The Times has a transcript of the interview with Gordon Brown due to be broadcast on Sunday. And it is quite revealing. Not about Brown himself, but about his motivation (or Alastair Campbell's motivation) for doing it in the first place.
Brown is seen by many people as socially clumsy and inept, and the media stories we read lend weight to the idea that he is also a bully who won't tolerate dissent. Iain Dale makes a good point: whereas Margaret Thatcher was renowned for her 'robust' disagreements with members of her Cabinet, she was kindness itself to her staff. Brown, on the other hand, can't confront powerful ministers, but is well known for shouting at subordinates, kicking furniture and throwing mobile phones at people. Almost the breed standard for a weak bully.
"Psychologically flawed" is the polite way of putting it. Now he is in the media being 'human', crying a bit on camera and letting us all know that he is just a regular family guy. With a general election now only a few weeks away, it's not hard to see why he is doing this.
Just a couple of points from the interview.
PM: “Come on, you’ve been grumpy.”
GB: “Yeah but I’m not, I don’t sort of behave like that. I want things done, I’m strong willed, I want to get things done so I get up in the morning and say, ‘Look, let’s get this done'. And if that sounds grumpy, well, I don’t think so.”
Can you imagine any real human being getting up in the morning and saying "Look, let's get this done"? The "Look ... " part is straight from Tony Blair. And the "getting things done" part is from the official Party Apparatchik script - he didn't quite say "I'm getting on with the job", but it was close. Sarah, poor thing, must be driven to distraction.
PM: “What’s been the best present you weren’t allowed to keep?”
GB: “I think the different governments in the Middle East send huge presents. One after a dinner was a full pig that they sent, that had been roasted.”
GB: “And I couldn’t accept it.”
Are you sure? A Middle-Eastern government sending a pig? Like the Israelis once treated him to a bacon butty? I hope someone does some fact-checking on this, because I suspect he made it up.
GB: “I had a flat near the university and it was one of these big flats with, I think, eight different rooms and eight people stayed. And I came back from a conference and my flat had been burgled. And I arrived back and there was a policeman there and we went into my study and looked round my study where all my books were and all my papers were and the police officer said, ‘Totally ransacked sir, totally ransacked'. I had to explain to him that the burglar had clearly not been in that room. It was exactly as I’d left it.”
An old joke, and obviously planted. In the original, the student replied to the policeman: "Actually, I think the burglar has done a bit of tidying up in here," which is funnier. And wasn't this joke made into a TV advert a while ago? Whatever, it isn't original. You can just imagine the planning meeting: "I say, let's put in a couple of amusing anecdotes to get the punters chuckling. I know a good one ..." And then there is this:
PM: “Let me take you back to the day before John Smith died, where for all intents and purposes he was absolutely fine. In your head Gordon, if you’re honest, you must have been not just hoping but believing you would be, after John Smith, the next Labour leader.”
GB: “I thought that would be possible and the first person I phoned when I heard John had died was Tony. And I said, ‘Look, Tony, you may not know this but John has died.’ So I said, ‘Look, we’ve got to sort this out', and so we started a conversation.”
This kind of settles it for me. The man is a self-centred, shallow creep, interested only in power and status.
The Labour Party, whatever its faults, tends to be quite comradely. You will hear ordinary members quite naturally referring to their party leader as 'Tony', 'John', 'Neil' or whatever, in a way that you hardly ever hear ordinary Tories talk about 'David' or 'William'. Now, imagine that you have just taken a call to tell you that your party leader, and someone who must have been something of a friend, has suddenly and unexpectedly died. What is the first thing you do? If it happened to one of my friends, I would be calling his wife straight away, giving my condolences and asking what I could do to help.
What does Gordon do? "The first person I phoned when I heard John had died was Tony."
He phoned Tony fucking Blair.
Because "We've got to sort this out", this being who gets first dibs on the job of leader, probably before dear old John Smith's body was even cold.
Shameful. It tells you all you need to know about the man's ambition and selfishness.
Then he goes on to talk about his daughter's death. Now I can't begin to understand how truly terrible this must have been for him. My eldest was in intensive care for a few days after she was born, due to low birth weight, and that was bad enough. So I am not belittling the experience in any way. But for a man who - quite rightly, in my view - set his face against using his children as publicity material to come out on prime-time television and blub publicly just as the general election campaigns get into gear seems to be the most transparent bit of fakery I have seen in a long time.
It will, no doubt, bring him a little bounce in the polls. An electorate that reads Heat and watches reality television is easily swayed. But it was the wrong thing to do, because it was wrong.
Shameful, condescending, and wrong.