Sketch: The PM as ‘mensch’
Gordon Brown's long-dormant oratory skills certainly galvanised his UJIA audience at London's Hilton Hotel on Monday night.
He made them laugh: "I'm the man who had to tell Nelson Mandela who Amy Winehouse was," capping this with the possibly apocryphal story that Ms Winehouse sang "Free Blakey, he's my fella" to the tune of "Free Nelson Mandela" at the great man's 90th birthday concert this summer.
He made them cry when he spoke of his and his wife Sarah's emotional response at Yad Vashem during his July visit; and he somewhat astonished the 800 guests with such a pro-Israel address that it could have been made by an Israeli PM rather than a British one.
The man introduced by UJIA's Gerald Ronson as "a mensch" produced a eulogy likely to have few parallels. Not many British prime ministers, after all, can have said: "This year may God write you, the people of Israel, and all of us in the book of life, and let me wish you Shana Tova" - a greeting which produced a standing ovation.
Cynics may have wondered whether Mr Brown had come to dinner to seek financial advice from a community renowned for fiscal providence. Certainly his speech helped the dinner generate a remarkable £3.77 million. That was eight per cent up on last year - the sort of economic growth rate that mere Prime Ministers these days can only dream about.