It was le Carré I think who wrote of a successful con-artist character in one of his novels that 'reality was whatever he believed it to be'. Whilst the capacity for convincing self-delusion may be an essential quality in a con-man, or a spy, it is perhaps less so for a Prime Minister. All politicians lie, of course, but few lie with the fatuity with which Gordon Brown does.
It was a source of universal amusement when he categorically denied calling off the election at the end of 2007 because he was scared of losing. And on Friday, when he categorically denied he had wanted Balls in the Treasury, the clumsy lie was again universally recognised. Blair of course would have diverted both questions with humour and the smug self-deprecation he was so good at before the camera. That Gordon Brown doesn't have the intellectual equipment to do the same, that his thought-processes are clumsy and slow-witted, may be one explanation as to why he retreats so quickly to risible lies. But an alternative possibility is that Brown is so self-deluded that he actually mistakes the lies he tells for truth, and this is profoundly concerning. I'd rather have a stupid PM in Number Ten than a mad one.