Saturday, February 20, 2010

Brown and Cameron move closer together

Last week, I wrote that Tory leader David Cameron had possibly made a wrong move in seeking to 'get personal' with Gordon Brown after having once claimed he wanted to end "Punch and Judy politics."

But it seems that Mr Cameron is not alone among the party leaders in disowning his previously-stated views in pursuit of election victory.

On Sunday night, ITV viewers were treated to Piers Morgan's interview with Mr Brown in which, among other things, he spoke of his grief at the death of his ten-day-old daughter Jennifer in 2002.

Yes, that's the same Gordon Brown who in 2007 said he "didn't come into politics to be a celebrity" and vowed never to use his family as "props."

At the same time, Mr Cameron let it be known he would not be giving a similar interview – at any rate, not to a known Labour sympathiser like Mr Morgan.

But of course, that was not quite the full story – because viewers of Scottish TV last weekend would have seen the Tory leader similarly welling up as he spoke of the loss of his son, Ivan.

It is tempting to see all of this as some kind of political doppelganger effect, by which two politicians in competition with eachother eventually start to become the other.

As The Guardian’s Michael White put it: “Voters who complain that politicians all sound the same nowadays sometimes have a point.”

In truth, though, there is always a bit of this in politics - rival politicians are just as prone to mimicking eachother's personalities as they are to nicking their policies.

For Mr Brown to seek to out-do Mr Cameron in the personality stakes may well be seen by some as cynical, desperate and even fake, but in view of Labour's current polling plight, it is hardly surprising.

While laudable, the Prime Minister's earlier determination to eschew ‘celebrity culture’ was possibly rather naive in this day and age.

Three years into his premiership, he has maybe come to a reluctant acceptance of the fact that the public now expects its leaders to be able to "emote" with the best of them.

As far as the content of the interview is concerned, we learned little that isn't already in the public domain.

Yes, there was a deal between Mr Brown and Tony Blair over the Labour leadership after John Smith’s death, but all it amounted to was that Brown would stand aside for Blair in 1994 and that Blair would support Brown when his time came.

If that was all there was to it, it is clear that both men fulfilled their sides of the infamous bargain - which hardly explains why there is still so much bad blood between the two camps.

The suspicion persists that the 'real deal' went further, and included a pledge by Mr Blair to stand down by a certain date considerably earlier than June 2007.

Inevitably, though, most of the media attention focused on Gordon and wife Sarah's tears over Jennifer's death and the Prime Minister's description of the moment he realised she was not going to live.

If it results in Mr Brown being seen as a humbler, more human figure, then that is all to the good - my own personal dealings with him, though slight, have always left me with the same impression.

It is the most baleful of coincidences that the forthcoming election will be fought out by two men who have suffered perhaps the greatest tragedy that can befall any man or woman - the loss of a child.

As is the nature of such tragedies, it seems to have brought them closer together - not as individuals, but certainly in the way they approach politics.

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1 comment:

Robert said...

Do you ever get the feeling Politics are now in the gutter and I'm not going to get into that gutter with them.

I have refused to fill in my poll registration and have had the warning of a fine, so last week I did it over the INTERNET and got myself a postal vote application which I shoved in the bin.

I've decided for the first time in my life not to vote, at the moment I would possible give a vote to UKIP or even the BNP as some sort of moan at government, but I cannot do that.

So I will sit this one put and leave the new labour brigade go for it