Sunday, February 14, 2010

Brown Interview showcases a good man, not a good PM

This is basically my first, unfiltered reaction to Gordon Brown's interview with Piers Morgan. What did we learn?

That Piers and Gordon are great buddies. You can tell that - I've never seen the PM so comfortable during an interview. He was nervous, cos he really doesn't like doing that sort of thing, but he managed to laugh and giggle a bit while Piers did the sex and drugs innuendo.

That Gordon Brown is a human being who's gone through some really tough things, including the loss of a child and he's emotionally articulate enough to talk about it despite the obvious pain.

That he loves his wife, incredibly much, and their bond is very strong. Many couples split up after losing a child because they can't cope with the terrible grief. What struck me was his empathy for what Sarah had gone through. You can't learn that from a script - you get the impression he felt it with her. I expect many women particularly will have seen that and liked it.

That his children mean the absolute world to him.

Absolutely not one bit of this was a surprise to me - it's always been totally obvious. I remember when little Jennifer was born commenting to my husband how happy he looked. We were a couple of years into our parenthood at this stage and we totally got how he was totally bowled over by his wee girl.

If the objective of this interview was to get over to the public that Gordon Brown is a human being, a real person with feelings who's just like us, then it worked. Whether that sort of thing was necessary is another thing.

Piers set up a series of straw men, like Gordon's failure to kiss visiting ladies properly, the You Tube debacle and his seeming social discomfiture which he then blew aside himself with each fawning guffaw as the hagiography continued.

Of course, there was no intense probing on policy, on the disparity between Brown and Darling on future spending plans, on the fact that a Government of which he was a senior member was complicit in torture, of Iraq, which he bankrolled (obviously not personally but you know what I mean) and which, of couse, Piers Morgan was opposed to as editor of the Daily Mirror. Not a word about Brown's forthcoming appearance at the Iraq Inquiry.

There was nothing in tonight's interview that showed Gordon Brown as a man of vision, a man of who could lead, a man with people skills, a man with sound judgement. All of these things are vital in a Prime Minister but we didn't see them tonight and nor have we seen them in any sufficient quantity in his time in office. He's presided over a Government whose best hope of clinging to power is to pursue a brutal, cynical "I'm not them" campaign.

It would be remiss of me not to mention that Nick Clegg has all of these qualities in boatloads - we've seen it in the way he's set out his fairness agenda, how he's worked with people on the Gurkhas, how he seems to have tamed the passionate and ubercritical Lib Dem membership and activists as he's made changes in the party for the better.

David Cameron, of course, is just slick, opportunistic and smarmy - and people know it. A mum at my daughter's school said to me that (and this is good Scots vernacular which I trust needs no explanation) Cameron gives her "the boke".

So, we know from tonight that Gordon Brown is a good man, a genuine man. We might even like him. This does not, however, make him a good PM, or his Government anything other than the cynical, tired, overly authoritarian monolith it has become. Nothing excuses their failure to do something radical to help the poor and most vulnerable and Brown has to take the blame for that as its head.

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