Wednesday, 28 April 2010

A World Without Secrets (Part One)

So, Gordon Brown has been caught saying one thing publicly, and another in private. That's a bad day for him - both because of the displayed disparity between public and private, but also because the private comment was unjustified.

Integrity has sometimes been defined as the absence of any difference between public and private person - and I get that. I want to be the same person in public as I am in private. On that basis, Brown got it badly wrong.

On the other hand, I know that I don't live up to this, not by a long way. I therefore find it far easier to identify with Gordon Brown in his frustration, his fault and his apologising than I do with George Osborne who said:

"We have found out the prime minister's internal thoughts... and I think they speak for themselves ... What people will see is the contrast between what he was saying publicly and what he was saying privately"

It must be nice to be as confident about your own behaviour as that - or perhaps he's being a tad hypocritical? I'm with Nick Clegg who told Radio 4's PM programme:

"If we all had recordings of what we mutter under our breath we'd all be crimson with embarrassment... Gordon Brown has now gone out of his way to apologise. He was quite right to do so, and I think that's that."

Good on him. We really do live in a World Without Secrets.


Mark said...

Exactly. As I Tweeted yesterday: "People want politicians to be honest. PM caught out being honest. PM apologises for being honest. Hmmmm..."

Nick said...

Not so sure. This is about judgement.

Integrity as you define it is hard to achieve. I don't think that's the point of this. Had Brown not made such a mess of it this would have been on the news as broadly positive Brown engages with ordinary voter story. He didn't see that as the private conversation reveals.

Will it have an impact? Suspect Danny Finkelstein is right when he says it merely confirms peoples view of Brown and so is "priced in".

But it will be interesting to see if it has an effect psychologically during the debate tonight.

Nick Smith said...

Thanks Mark - I guess we need to be wary of getting what we wish for.

Thanks Nick - yes, fair point re Brown's potential mis-reading of the situation. But I don't think that's the point for which he's mostly been attacked. Certainly wasn't Osborne's point.