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The crying game

February 13, 2010

Gordon Brown doesn’t have an easy time from the British press. Last November The Sun newspaper led a campaign against him because he’d made some spelling errors in a personally handwritten letter of condolence to a mother whose son had been killed in Afghanistan. The fact that our prime Minister is partially-sighted didn’t figure in The Sun’s decision to attack him like this. Mr Brown seemed genuinely upset by this assault, and it seemed that many commentators felt it was unfair. Then, at the other end of the personal attack spectrum, GQ magazine voted him Worst Dressed Man of the Year. Now I’m sure Mr Brown was not particularly bothered by this accolade. But again, I felt it was unfair. I wouldn’t say he dresses well, but he doesn’t dress badly.

Piers Morgan interviewed Mr Brown for GQ magazine at the end of 2009. Brown told Morgan back then “I could present our message a lot better, I’m actually shy by nature rather than extrovert, someone who feels that your actions should speak for themselves, but that’s not the way politics works these days.” And when Morgan asked “how are you going to make yourself sexy?”, Brown replied: “We’ve got to be exciting, definitely. But I can’t change in the way you’re asking me to.”

So I was surprised to I hear this week that Mr Brown is to appear on TV, to be interviewed again by Piers Morgan. My initial thoughts? Oh no Gordon! What are you doing? You’re playing straight into their hands! They’ll accuse you of electioneering, blah, blah, blah…

One of Brown’s “mistakes” has been to assume that he would be judged by his actions. Our country’s obsession with celebrity proves that we have this need to know all the details of the lives of the rich and famous. And Gordon has to play that game too. He will have his detractors, the best ones I’ve heard so far are that this interview is a spoiler to Andrew Rawnsley’s new book, which apparently doesn’t put him in a good light. Read the Daily Mail’s version of the truth. But the very best one? This comes from Will Heaven at the Telegraph. In his piece he claims the show is aired on February 14 because “floating female voters (most of them surely single) will be feeling especially vulnerable”. Really, Will?!

I’m sure Mr Brown had to be persuaded to do this interview and I’m glad he did. This man has endured more personal tragedy than many, but has also achieved so much with his life. I’m proud to be able to say Gordon Brown is my Prime Minister, and that he is a true statesman. I will be glued to the box on Sunday night and I’m looking forward to hearing about the man, in his own words, and tears.

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