Wednesday, January 23, 2008

This Not-So-Charming Man

A couple of weeks back, the right-wing columnist Richard Littlejohn made a vile attack on Gordon Brown in which he made reference to his "kiddie fiddler smile." That estimable blogger Paul Burgin was one of those who were suitably outraged, expressing the view that Littlejohn should not be allowed to get away with such a "joke."

I left the following comment on his blog:

It's not a joke, Paul, it's a deadly serious attempt by the right to fix the idea of Gordon as a "weirdo" in the public mind. It's not just the likes of Littlejohn who are doing it, you can see also see it happening on all the leading right-wing blogs.

When I wrote this, I had in mind a particularly disgusting post on Guido in which a sock-puppet called "Stanislav" claimed the Prime Minister was suffering from chronic mental illness as a result of having repressed his homosexuality, and that marrying Sarah and having children as the prospect of No 10 drew closer had essentially been a front.

Of course, David Cameron would never utter such contemptible rubbish. But nevertheless, it's clear from his interview with the new Times editor this morning, in which he describes Mr Brown as "that strange man in Downing Street," that portraying his opponent as somehow not one of us is a key part of the Tory leader's political strategy.

Mr Cameron clearly wants to portray himself as This Charming Man, and Brown as (to quote) This Strange Man, but if the public has any sense it will backfire. What on earth gives Cameron the right to describe another man as "strange" and by what measure of "normality" does he seek to judge the Prime Minister?

We are all individuals, and the fact that, like Esau, Gordon Brown is not a "smooth" man does not necessarily make him a bad man. Increasingly, for the political and media class, it seems that the worst crime is to be different.

  • Cross-posted on Liberal Conspiracy and also featured on "Best of the Web" on Comment is Free.

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  • 17 comments:

    Anonymous said...

    so your saying not all disabled people are frauds, but we can all sod off to work or live on the streets, because over the past twelve months Labour has done it's best to make the disabled look like we are cheats frauds and as Blair said work shy.

    David Gladwin said...

    Paul - thanks for pointing me in the direction of that "particularly disgusting post," which sums up much of what I would say about Brown.

    Barnacle Bill said...

    No doubt Mr. Piper will be along shortly to condemn us all as mentally unbalanced, but I'm with the Polish plumber on this one Paul.

    Toque said...

    It doesn't necessarily make him a bad man, but he is a bad man nevertheless.

    I know you had high hopes for him, but even you must admit his complete lack of charisma and personality sets him up for these attacks, he simply doesn't have the sense of humour to swat them aside.

    And all that self-righteous 'moral compass' vision thing was just more spin. He's just a scheming and manipulative politician up there with the worst of them.

    If you are going to spring to his defence then tell us why he's worth defending. He needs to be got rid of, and frankly any tactic that hastens his departure is warranted.

    lettersfromatory said...

    It's a silly tactic for Cameron to employ, especially as Gordon Brown has numerous weaknesses in his policies and administration and cabinet team that provide more than enough ammunition.

    Seamus said...

    He is a cowardly, evasive, duplicitous, vindictive fraud.
    This appalling man, who is driven by a bottomless Marxist grudge pit is leading what was once the United Kingdom into oblivion.
    He won't spend £30m on the (England and Wales)police, but gives India,
    the fourth largest world economy,
    £825m? The man is warped, makes Blair look good and needs to be removed now.

    stephen rouse said...

    The "Littlejohn audit" found 104 references to homosexuality in the course of a year's 90-plus articles. This guy Stanislav seems equally fixated. I really wouldn't let these people worry you, Paul. If this foul-mouthed hysteria is really the best the right can come up with, Brown may be in better shape than we think.

    Croydonian said...

    Paul, you and I are of a sufficient vintage to recall quite how the mainstream left press depicted Thatcher and Major, with satirists going a great deal further - think of Private Eye and Spitting Image.

    Had there been bloggers in the 80s and 90s, I can scarcely imagine quite how far they would have gone in demonising / dehumanising etc Conservative leaders. Which does not, naturally, legitimise the wilder fantasies about Brown's personal life.

    Note also that the nudge nudge wink wink thing about Brown was being done in Private Eye's 'Vicar of Albion' years back.

    figurewizard said...

    While the economy seemed to be booming on the back of a house price bubble financed by cheap and easy credit, Gordon Brown set about creating an image as a competent and safe pair of hands. However when Northern Rock put this to a really big test, he failed spectacularly. Now all he has to fall back on is charisma - Don't hold your breath Gordon.

    Anonymous said...

    Littlejohn is thug who was arrested for beating peopl up. Littelejohn is real dangerous creep, and cameron is showing a school bully boy tactic which may win votes but loses him respect from decent people.

    Anonymous said...

    Littlejohn is a bullying creep.

    http://books.guardian.co.uk/reviews/politicsphilosophyandsociety/0,,2099373,00.html

    Read about what bully boy he is. Who cares what such a creep Littlejohn thinks of anyone. I bet littlejohn does have littlejohn too.

    Anonymous said...

    Far from Cameron peddling a new line I suspect he's just catching up with the man on the street, who plainly does think Brown is well weird (or non-collegiate as a certain ex-colleague of Brown put it so helpfully). Seriously, does Brown strike you lot as a rounded balanced man???

    jaymason44 said...

    To Mr Average with a passing interest he seems like a serial liar who cannot answer a question (ref PMQ's), regurgitates nonsensical figures which bear no resemblance to the reality that we all experience, he has surrounded himself with a bunch of half wits to vainly try and make himself look better but has only succeeded in making himself look stupid

    The Creator said...

    But he is a wierdo. It's patently, blindingly obvious.

    Anonymous said...

    18:46 Bully boy creep. You seem like creepy bully boy to me.
    10:11 And so do you you creepy bhully boy.
    I hate people who call people wierdo. You are just the school bully get lost. Snooty nosed snobs facvt is 10 years without a recessions a is good work. You want some pub bore. .

    Anonymous said...

    Quite right that those on the right of the politcal spectrum might not be helping their own cause with ad hominem attacks on Brown.

    On the other hand if there is a creepier and more personally loathsome politician than brown anywhere I have yet to see one.

    Man in a Shed said...

    I believe the left have a large number of people who refer to Brown as a flawed personality.

    What would Alistair Campbell or Charles Clarke say about him ? And who made the famous "psychologically flawed" quote ?

    The problem with Brown is the left allowed him to rise to power without being properly tested - or for that matter elected. ( Don't start of the 10 years as chancellor business - he was there because he couldn't be trusted anywhere else. And we are now paying the billions of pounds that his mistakes in bank regulation, selling gold at the low of the market, failure to reform the public services before fire hosing other peoples cash stolen from their pensions has cost us).

    It is the inherent blind spot of the British Left to fail to consider they just may have got things wrong.