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Opening up

Nick Robinson | 13:51 UK time, Thursday, 8 May 2008

Listen very hard, and believe me you did have to listen very hard, and you could just catch the sound of a new improved Gordon Brown today. The prime minister took to the sofa of ITV's This Morning programme to be patronised by Fern. She opened the interview by telling her guest, "It's an opportunity for you to be human". Resisting what must have been the overwhelming temptation to tell her where to get off, the prime minister proceeded to try to do just that.

Gordon and Sarah Brown with their sonsMuch of the content was familiar but the tone was very different and there was one glaring change. Albeit looking awkward, Gordon Brown did what he does all the time in private but loathes to do in public. He talked about his children and in particular his son Fraser who has cystic fibroses. He talked about the struggle of bringing up two healthy children.

In recent days, after suffering the indignity of being asked about being strange and being invited to be human, the prime minister is trying to do something that the self-confessed private man has resisted all his life. Opening up.

UPDATE, 04:00PM: Interesting news. Far from wanting to discuss his family, in particular his son Fraser's cystic fibrosis, Gordon Brown thought that there was an agreement that he would not be asked such questions. Indeed, reports reach me of furious members of Team Brown complaining that the pre-interview agreement had been broken. So, no new strategy involving talking about the kids apparently.


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  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    I have not seen this interview as too busy robbing paul to pay peter, but.......

    No, a leaderless leader can only play for so long as Rome burns. I want hard policies that will regenerate this messed up country and not 'look at me, I'm human too and have feelings' sofa politics.

    I want that works and,

    (NuImproved) LABOUR ISN'T WORKING!

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.


    Was Cameron not hit with negative comments from the media (including the BBC) for allowing his family to be filmed or discussed? If so, why is it ok to allow the family picture of GB without adding in some of the same negative output?

    To be frank, I would not accept anything GB says or does in respect of his family since the evidence of his public life does not point toward an honest or plain speaking man.

    All the best

  • Comment number 5.

    Some of us posters have been very, very careful to discriminate between Gordon Brown, the POLITICIAN and the 'human' Gordon Brown.

    Certainly, any negative criticism that I have levelled at GB concerns his political policies.

    We can all surely sympathise with a family who has the grave misfortune to have a child with health problems.

    As his opposite number David Cameron also has.

    If 'modern' politics requires a politician to parade his or her family, for whatever political purpose, then count me out.

    That would be grotesque.

    No worse, that would be being Jordan and Peter Andre.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.


    Maybe I was reading too hard -- did you say that he spoke of his 'struggle' to bring up a family.

    I am sure he could retire tomorrow and his whole family could live very comfortably - he freely chooses to do what he does.

    Real People in the Real World - they struggle - they work flat out because they have no choice - if they didn't work hard they would be homeless and their kids would go short. And much of the money they earn goes straight to the government to waste on their latest half-baked brainwaves.

    Did you not think it a bit rich for Gordon to mention a 'struggle' - or are BBC editors in the same out of touch super-league - flying out to their italian villas, worried about the price of nothing.

  • Comment number 8.

    That's funny other bloggers accuse Nick of being an arch tory! You can't please everybody, I suppose!
    Just one thing, and it has been brought up again and again, we do NOT elect Prime Ministers! He is NOT Prime Minister Gordon Brown, he is Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister. The UK elects political parties who then form governments. They (The parties) elect their own leaders and we elect the party we think would make the best government (Don't laugh!)
    Do we really want presidential politics in Britain? Can you imagine how unbearable our pompous, self important leaders would be if that happened?

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.


    Well technically the political parties elect their leaders and the Queen appoints the Prime Minister, who by convention is the leader of the largest party.

    But you're right, the UK population doesn't elect the PM. If we did, he wouldn't be a PM, he would be a President.

    Nobody outside of Sedgefield voted for Tony Blair, just like nobody outside of Kirkcaldy voted for Gordon Brown.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    Frankly, I have little interest in the private lives of MPs or Ministers. If they have achieved something of interest before entering public life, that may influence the way I react to them. If they have done things that were illegal or truly "bad" that would also make a difference.
    I had some sympathy for Gordon who lost vision in one eye as the result of a rugby accident. I certainly sympathise with anyone whose children have physical problems.
    I have no sympathy with someone who cannot find it in his heart to tell the truth.
    When New Labour came to power, the inflation rate was low. (Have you ever heard GB admit that?)
    When New Labour came to power, the balance of trade was positive - but now at record levels and has never been positive during his period as Chancellor. (Have you ever heard GB accept that?)
    There was a real problem with employment.
    Who believes that creating complex tax and regulations, is a productive way forward?
    When New Labour came to power, the private sector pension schemes were the "envy of Europe". GB has helped make it a wasteland.

  • Comment number 13.


    This blog falls WAY below the standard we expect from you.

    What is it about Gordon Brown that has you so enthralled?

    Suggest you read the comments above!

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm glad that brown isn't going to jump on the celebrity roundabout and is going to be a serious politician.I expect that american idol was just to warm up for when he joins the american speech circuit and the this morning programme means that he will not be stretched in the interview.What next a photo shoot for Hello.

  • Comment number 17.

    Wow. Nick you really hit a nerve. I've never seen so many comments referred to the moderators!

    Anyway, the thing that strikes me is that Gordon is on a serious charm offensive at the moment. He must have his advisors running around like headless chickens trying to find a vote-able persona. We've had the tough leader, the repenting leader and now the "man next door" family leader.

    Please! Excuse me if I see this as just a stunt to garner public opinion!

  • Comment number 18.

    agree with #5

    Parading your family as a sob story when you've just shot to record lows in elections and polls is a cheap trick.

    He's so badly advised. People are bored of GMTV and This Morning politics because it has left them and their government heavily in debt with flaky public services.

    Is he prepared to sit on the sofa with someone whose 10p he just nabbed? They are the ones who will be listening to this tripe.

    The man is a sick joke whose children will replay the tape in years to come and say 'How could you?'

  • Comment number 19.

    It really has come to something when a Prime Minister has to go on live television and convince us he is "human".

    Surely being human is a prerequisite for standing for Parliament? Someone better check the rules.....

  • Comment number 20.

    Someone said that it couldn't be a struggle for Gordon Brown bringing up his family because he is financially secure.

    I think that's missing the point. Bringing up children, particularly if they have life-threatening health problems, can be a struggle even if you're a millionaire. I imagine working very long days wouldn't help as well.

    Being well off doesn't necessarily remove all of life's problems.

  • Comment number 21.

    @ number 8 "Do we really want presidential politics in Britain? Can you imagine how unbearable our pompous, self important leaders would be if that happened?"

    Yes I can imagine that, just look at Gordon Brown! Behaving not unlike a dictator, rather than a president.

    Yes I know we elect parties to enact a manifesto of policies. Then explain to me why Gordon feels that he can ignore the manifesto with impunity and start on what he called a drive for change? Neither he, nor his party, have ANY mandate for such change. They barely had a mandate under Blair with a risible 36% share of the vote. They certainly have NO mandate whatsoever to change their 2005 manifesto promises now!

    Where in the last labour manifesto did it say that labour would double the income tax of the poorest workers?

    The PM has to implement the elected manifesto.... Brown claims to be listening..... so...

    Where is our Referendum on the EU treaty?

  • Comment number 22.


    Oh dear ! Talk about bad timing. Where is this guy's judgment ?

    To choose this time to publicly share his feelings about his children is bound to smack of using his family as a shield or diversion.

    Bad move. Even if it works in terms of shaping a better public image, how will the much fabled 'real Gordon' feel in his heart of hearts? Pleased or squeamish ?

  • Comment number 23.

    Now we know why yesterday he said it was "...right that families struggle"

    So he now considers himself to be 'in the right'

    Funny, almost everyone else* considers him wholly in the wrong!

    *Charles Hertwidge excepted, of course

  • Comment number 24.

    It's about ten years too late to try and be human now, Gordon. We've seen the real you and we don't want to see any more.

    I'll bet his PR men are running about like headless chickens trying to decide what to foist on us next.

  • Comment number 25.


    Re the update. Yeah, right.

    It would have been for anybody very easy to brush of that question with the 'fami;y + private" type line, never mind a guy who makes a career out of not answering questions

    Reality ? Penny drops - damage limitation follow up.

  • Comment number 26.


    Even the not-yet-existent Madame Tussauds waxwork has more sincerity.

  • Comment number 27.

    What's the point in having a political blog to encourage spirited debate when you are not allowed the criticise the incumbent government?

    Nick posts a very pro-Labour comment.

    Myself, and many others criticise this bias.

    Our comments are deleted by the thought police. Why?

  • Comment number 28.

    This must be the Cringe Strategy that new Labour are rolling out.

  • Comment number 29.

    I have a great deal of difficulty believing anything coming from Gordon Brown at the moment.

    It strikes me that going on This Morning to speak to Fern Brittan is the last thing anyone should have any fear about and certainly not a life long politician like our current PM.

    Me thinks the PM doth protest too much!

    I imagine his spin doctors expected a nice gentle "ahhh" from all the day time tv watchers and they thought that his "I am just a normal human being just trying to do my best by my family and country" chat would do him some good.

    The problem is simple we have all seen through it straight away hence the so called reaction detailed in the update.

    Excuse me if I don't feel sorry for him.

  • Comment number 30.

    Does this remind anyone of the 'Quiet Man' speech? That was Ian Duncan Smith, and he didn't last long. Sorry, but I don't go for the shy/private man idea - he's the PM for goodness sake. Either he's a charismatic leader in public and private, or he's not leadership materail and should resign.

  • Comment number 31.

    Re your UPDATE, 04:00PM Nick,

    Are you now saying that even GMTV is not listening to Team Brown! (Is this the kind of hard hitting interview other political interviewees aspire to? If so, Andrew Marr get a sofa!)

    Who does listen to GB now?

    Please, to all those in charge of NUImproved Labour, do yourself a favour and elect (?) someone new, PDQ!

  • Comment number 32.

    I tried posting a comment earlier but apparently it broke the house rules! Having read the house rules again, I cannot see what the problem is - unless the moderators do not accept even a little bit of criticism of Nick's blog. I repeat the comment below.

    I think it is natural for Brown to talk a little about his family. It just shows what a strange situation Brown finds he is in that he only now feels it is necessary to do this sort of thing. And even stranger for you Nick to consider it a worthwhile topic for a blog.

    I have to agree with some of the other commentators here - it is hard to imagine you doing such a sympathetic piece on Cameron.

  • Comment number 33.

    I can't help thinking that now cornered Gordon Brown will try every trick in the book. Unfortunately for him to no avail.

    I saw him on Sunday where it was painfully obvious that he was stalling for time and had no big ideas.

    I saw him on Prime Minister Questions (I really do hate PMQ) where all he could do was pull out the same old statistics and be completely lost by Wendy Alexander's statement re independence for Scotland.

    And happily I didn't see him on ITV this morning.

    In truth, even his own side now see him as weak, or Alexander wouldn't have done what she did. On The Daily Politics Kavagnah said that the Labour MPs are plotting.

    So if he really does find life with his unfortunately ill son a struggle, and has the money to do so, the most sensible thing to do would be to "resign to spend more time with his family." That's one that everyone who has outstayed their usefulness uses, and of course, like everything else that BG seems to be doing, no-one will believe that either.

  • Comment number 34.

    This Morning and GMTV are light bite sized shows for the equally light in the brain viewer.

    It appears Cameron's smarmy, smug and orange complexion is one the knee jerk tabloid reader can relate too in the way the same bellowing cow people can relate to nasty, perma-tanned Simon Cowell.

    This act of "telling it how it is" and belitteling people is seen as an admirable quality to the fields of Cowell fans, so no doubt clips of Cameron's soundbites of scorn appeal to this kind of viewer. The same viewer that watches This Morning/GMTV.

    Plunk Brown on to the sofa, in comparison he seems pale which raises suspicion to the viewer who is used to seeing all people on TV a dirty orange colour.
    A few uncomfortable personal questions later Brown can now be accused of using his family for political gain, Nick Robinson can dig out a family pic but as glaringly unmissable as David Cameron's moon face, Brown did NOT wheel out his children for the cameras and if anyone can be accused of pimping kids out for politics it's DC.
    This interview does not compare to letting cameras into your home to make a documentary over breakfast. This was just a fluffy exercise to try to relate those who accuse him of being alien and distant.

    It's an unfortunate necessity nowadays that leaders are TV friendly so the odd stint on This Morning is something even telly shy Brown has to endure, however the line drawn around Brown's breakfast table has not been crossed and if Brown has any sense it should stay intact, along with his family's dignity.

  • Comment number 35.

    The comments about Brown on this blog surprise me. I wasn't aware that the man had become the anti-christ. The guy is a decent, spectacularly hard working politician with a track record as Chancellor that no previous incumbent in that role has come close to matching for 50 years.
    The spite, bile, venom - take your pick - that some bloggers spew on here is way over the top.
    It is true that his attempts at spin look amateurish but I for one do not want a PR man running the country. Being Prime Minister is about intellect and subtance. It is about values. Which of these do any non-rabid Tories believe Cameron posesses more than Gordon Brown?

  • Comment number 36.

    More re-branding by the NL. spin crew. I find it quite sickening that a sinking politician makes use of his family in an attempt to improve his popularity and standing with the nation.

    I am one of his 10p victims and wish I had been sitting on the sofa with him.

  • Comment number 37.

    Poprishchin (number 8)

    I think you are splitting hairs. You are correct that the voters do not directly elect the Prime Minister. However, when people vote for a party, they usually know who the party leader is – and hence who will be Prime Minister if that party wins.

    When John Major took over from Margaret Thatcher, he had been elected by the party members to take over the leadership of the party. His authority as sitting Prime Minister was confirmed when he later went to the country and the Conservatives won. The people had spoken!

    In the case of Gordon Brown, there was no election within the Labour party. Some might take the view that this was because no one had the courage to stand against him, given that everyone thought it was a foregone conclusion.

    If he had been elected leader in a contested vote within the Labour party, the need to go to the country would have been less urgent, in my view. However given that he inherited the crown without a contest, and has not called an election to let the people decide, I think it is perfectly fair to say he is an “unelected” Prime Minister.

    I won’t comment further as you will see my earlier post has been removed. I am awaiting clarification as to why this has happened.

  • Comment number 38.

    Completely in agreement with post #17 - so far seven comments censored and two more referred to the mods!

    I wonder what the responses would have been if Gordon had actually told her 'where to get off'?

  • Comment number 39.

    Be yourself Gordon! Its not going to make any difference if you try to spin your way out of trouble that era has passed for a while because the wolves are loose! So be yourself and do and say what you think is right, at least then you can look at the man in the mirror with respct!

  • Comment number 40.

    I'm still chuckling at the thought that Gordon's minders felt it necessary to negotiate an agreement to protect him from the horrors of an inquisition by Fern.

    Even they seem to have a very low opinion of him as well.

  • Comment number 41.

    A lot of naughty folk getting modded today. Mmm. Wonder if this gets through?

    Can I say I feel sorry for Gordon and I did not know his son had this terrible illness, but now it is out in the public why feed the line that it broke some sort of agreement? I can understand him wanting to protect his son, but unfortunately he has chosen to be PM and everything is public property.

  • Comment number 42.

    Censorship - alive, well and paid for by the license fee payer.

    Nice work if you can get it.

    Sterling stuff Nick incisive political commentary - lol.

  • Comment number 43.

    Where has Chuck Hogwash disappeared to in this whole debate?

    What thoughts does Zen Buddhism offer the Blessed Leader about using your children as political tools?

    What defence does Chuck offer to #36 who has been impaled by the 10p tax hike?

    You don't seem to be hailing Gordon on his back-firing-already initiative, Chuck.

    Do spare a thought for all of us pole-axed by the 10p tax hike on Gordon Brown's latest soporific appearance.

    Do spare a thought in your answer for the prime minister who has decided to use his children as a human shield.

    You couldn't make this up.

  • Comment number 44.

    I did not care about Cameron's family and his way of communication with the public and I do not much care about Brown's family either!
    I care about what happens in UK and at this point in time, and what is happening around the world in particular the present econimic problems which are crushing western economies!

  • Comment number 45.

    I'm afraid I didn't listen very hard - in fact I didn't listen at all. Just the thought of it made me feel slightly sick.
    Are there no lengths that politicians will go to in order to win votes?

    PS. We know he's not human anyway so why try and pretend?

  • Comment number 46.

    Why is it that you media people always insist on winkling out the "human stories" about politicians? What does such openness achieve ? Everyone has issues with their family at one time or another from the trivial to the serious.. The Camerons have a child who has serious health concerns. The Browns have lost a child in infancy - a heart-rending tragedy, believe me - but, will us knowing this help them to do the job they are paid for any better ? Brown - and Cameron - have a job to do. Brown doesn't seem to be very good at his. Will knowing more about his private life change people's judgement about that ?
    History tells us that the coldest and most secretive of Prime Ministers was Clement Atlee ... and he was up there with the greatest of 20th Century PMs.

  • Comment number 47.

    I'm sorry, but the children and family of any of our politicians is of no public interest, unless you have a situation like that of Mr Conway.

    Stick to politics please, do not start going down the path of the family problems. Many other families have similar or even worse situations.

  • Comment number 48.

    Chatting with Fern? He'll be appearing on American Idol next....... Oh, he already has.

  • Comment number 49.

    Pete (number 35),

    You are living proof that the NuLabour spin works. You have swallowed every lie put out by the Labour Party.

    Read the rest of the comments on this blog and waken up!

    Brown was a dreadful chancellor (he single-handedly destroyed the best private pensions in Europe, recruited far too many public sector workers on salary related index-linked pensions while those working to expand the economy lost their pensions).

    I take it you are one of his advisors who got his job from the appointment pages of the Guardian and love the man to bits?

  • Comment number 50.

    Mr Brown just doesn't get it, does he?

    Authenticity is a great thing in a politician - and the public can see through anything less.

    What Labour might not be picking up, unless those endless focus groups are still in full swing of course, is that Mr Brown has moved - in the language of people I talk to at least and, I sense, in vox pops of all descriptions - from being viewed as hapless to being regarded as, well, a figure of fun.

    That is an horrendous position for Mr Brown to be in - to be on a par with John Prescott in the public perception can't exactly enhance your prospects!

  • Comment number 51.

    Jesus - a picture of Gordon Brown trying to look like a carbon-based life form! Who does he think he's trying to kid? On yer bike, Gordie - roll on 2010 and the chance to vote you out...

  • Comment number 52.

    Gordonmustgo - you are right on the money about what a rubbish chancellor Gordon was. I just want to hear lots of tapes of him saying over and over again (as he did, ad infinitum) that we weren't going to have 'a return to boom-bust economics'. Well Gordon - we had the boom and now we're getting the bust, and it is because you SOLD ALL OUR GOLD RESERVES FOR A THIRD OF THEIR CURRENT VALUE and then you taxed us until the pips squeaked in the rich years when everyone could afford it, but you wasted all the money on public service bureaucracy and a pointless and morally corrupt war, and so when the lean years came (as they inevitably do), the cupboard was bare. You really do deserve to rot in electoral hell - and the most delicious bit is that you are shortly going to do so. Good riddance...

  • Comment number 53.

    Pete(No. 35) - there's nothing 'decent' about Gordon Brown. He is the most Machiavellian and ruthless of politicians (as Peter Mandelson and many of the other members of the Labour party whose charred political corpses line Brown's path to the top will affirm). He was prepared to go along with a morally bankrupt war that he patently didn't agree with, just to serve the purposes of his own career. At least Blair, albeit deludedly, seems to have believed in what he was doing; Brown just appears to have gone along with it for his own self-serving ends. How much more lacking in integrity can you get? Vince Cable's 'Stalin' was the most accurate assessment I have heard of this scheming, devious, stealth tax enthusiast who is now engaged on a plan of redistributing income tax money UPWARDS, for Chrissake.

  • Comment number 54.

    When you're in a hole........ send for the JCB seems to be the Labour approach this week.

    On Newsnight Scotland for the past two nights Labout has fielded two MSPs to defend the referendum debacle and both scored a whopping 10 on the cringeometer, while Wendy Alexander at FMQs at Holyrood yesterday took it off the scale!

    Irrespective of your party leanings it was painful to watch, and if you turn the volume off it's even worse.

    This comes with a health warning: only watch from behind the sofa!

  • Comment number 55.

    One can have a fly on the wall documentary made of him and his family and he is peddled as a saint.

    The other one answers a couple of questions on his family and it’s a cheap publicity stunt.

    It shows the hypocrisy of some folk.

  • Comment number 56.

    Labour isn’t working.

    I remember that one from 1979 election campaign. Another Tory spin. Then there was 1 million on the dole and guess what 3 years later there was 3.5 million unemployed.

    Yes things are bad but they will get a damn sight worse if the Tory lot get in ( AND THEY WILL)

  • Comment number 57.

    If Gordo is a rubbish chancellor then explain why over the last 10 years I have been able to set up 2 businesses, have 2 new cars on my double driver, go on 2 overseas holidays and own my own home.

    In the previous 17 years of Tory miss rule I was made unemployed twice never got on the housing ladder because I didn’t know if I would have a job the week later had a 10 year old car on my rented drive and never took an overseas holiday.

    Look at the facts and not what The Mail peddles to the Tory MOB.

  • Comment number 58.

    Gordon-Ayr, thanks a lot for the link to first minister's questions. Let's hope the idiot in number 10 watches it - it should be enough to make him throw in the towel.

  • Comment number 59.

    There are only two things you need to know about Gordon Brown to understand him.

    1) He only made one good decision as chancellor - independence for the bank of England (and he even managed to mess that up).

    2) It wasn't in the Labour party manifesto for the election.

    He has never believed in being open, honest, straightforward etc. He has always believed that government is more entitled to people's money than they are.

  • Comment number 60.

    Wow, princebullett1, you are easily pleased, aren't you? 2 overseas holidays in 10 years. What a success story!

  • Comment number 61.

    Just watched the exchanges in the Scottish parliament that Gordon-Ayr (#54) suggested we watch.

    Is it always as hilarious there? If so, can we replace BBC sit coms with more of the Scottish parliament please? Much funnier.

  • Comment number 62.

    #57 - because for the past 14 (that's right, 14) years there has been a large growth in the GLOBAL economy, which our economy benefited from. By the way, the good times started 3 years before NuLab, and the first 2 years of NuLab stuck to Tory plans, so its safe to say the first 5 years at least of this economic growth were heavily influenced by the Tories.

    Gordon however refuses to accept this may be the case, taking sole credit for all the good times. Now things are going bad, surely he must therefore take sole blame?!

  • Comment number 63.

    princebullett1 - I'm glad that you have made a success of your life in spite of Brown's incompetent handling of the economy.

    Brown's reputation as a great chancellor is a myth. He only ever did two sensible things:

    1. To pledge to follow Tory spending plans for his first two budgets (which had already laid the foundations for a stable and prosperous economy).

    2. To grant independence to the Bank of England.

    Everything he did since then has, is and will turn to ashes.

  • Comment number 64.

    princebullett1 wrote:
    "If Gordo is a rubbish chancellor then explain why over the last 10 years I have been able to set up 2 businesses, have 2 new cars on my double driver, go on 2 overseas holidays and own my own home.

    In the previous 17 years of Tory miss rule I was made unemployed twice never got on the housing ladder because I didn?t know if I would have a job the week later had a 10 year old car on my rented drive and never took an overseas holiday."

    Under Labour I have been unemployed a number of times and find that the only position being advertised are temp jobs with no prospects. I currently have a 14yr old car on a rented driveway. Under Tory rule, this didn't happen.

    Therefore; Tories rule, Labour suck!

    This is why anecdotal evidence is rubbish. Have you considered that the reason you're doing more successfuly now is due to the experience gained in the prior years.

  • Comment number 65.

    "Opening up."

    The man's the son of a Church of Scotland minister. 'Opening up' doesn't go well with that.

  • Comment number 66.

    Re: 57 princebullet

    Your success could also be down to the fact that you grew up, got fed up with being poor and a loser, got your self some aspirations, took responsibility for your life and did something about it. Congratulations to you, I say, it's nothing to do with politics. David Cameron would be proud of you, though!

  • Comment number 67.

    Poor Gordon, he can try and try and try but really he's doomed:

    1. His fall from grace is even more dramatic because of his unexpected and somewhat artificial rise in popularity at the start of his 'term' of office.

    2. Gordon isn't actually to blame for SOME of his predicament - some of it is bad luck. After 10 years in power, people will grow tired of you - Tony and Iraq/scandals saw to that one. Other problems will crop up which out of your control - the global meltdown thanks to dodgy dealings in America. Added to that, you can no longer blame the people before you for things going wrong - no matter how hard Gordon tries to do so at PMQs - and there is no escaping the blame for mistakes you made earlier in power.

    3. Gordon has made mistakes/miscalculations of his own which are now coming to light and....

    4. ...his character magnifies his problems because people can't warm to him/he can't brush them off with some Blairian act of smoothness. Plus, ANY failing from his government is reflected as his own personal failings - such as lost discs leading to labels of incompetence from him.

    5. There is now, thus, a 'narrative' against Gordon - he could find the cure for cancer but people still wouldn't be persuaded as to his merits. The 'three Ds' - dithering, dull and defeat - have now attached themselves to him.

    At the same time, the media mood is swinging towards Dave. Even he is talking about what he WILL (not would) do as PM WHEN (not if) the Tories are in power. Even if the media thinks he is a salesman, there is something tangible to attach themselves to compared with the soporific Gordon. If you look at the recent Radio 5 Live interview with Nicky Campbell, and now with Fern Britton - there is a real lack of respect for Gordon, even in capicity of PM - where journalists feel empowered enough to make personal attacks on him to his face. I mean, telling someone they're not human...pretty harsh (if true)!

    6. To make things even worse, Gordon has lost authority in his own party and ministers and backbench MPs are making their own calculations in the face of despair - Bendy Wendy is a case in point.

    7. Short of a major catastophe, however, he won't go soon because there isn't enough momentum or alternatives in his party to get him out. This is a long, slow painful death which we all must endure. Instead of renewal, we have the ultimate stagnation in government. Gordon, instead of being true to himself as many are urging, will try and be something and someone (Tony, anyone?) he's not for the rest of his days.

    8. There is only one glimmer of hope for Gordon: the Conservatives, with increased attention on them - especially with Boris as Mayor, might yet mess up. The ball is in their court to establish themselves as the government-in-waiting and not the default alternative to Labour.

    Dave, however, is playing his role well - becoming more authorative, striking the mood of the electorate, painting a black picture of Gordon. He will, despite his better instincts, have to flesh out policy more to defuse some of his critics. At least he offers vision though!

    9. Chances are that Gordon will go down in history as a failure and - worse of all - by doing so, he'll make Tony look even shinier.

    You've got to feel sorry for Gordon really. Well you would, if only he were human.

  • Comment number 68.


    When you get to the next regular PM Press Briefing, can you ask Gordon Brown to tell us when he is going to get around to spelling out these 'big ideas' he keeps saying he has?

    Not that they'll save him or Labour. I'm just interested in why a man who has fought for this job for his whole adult life now finds he has nothing to contribute to it.

  • Comment number 69.

    Come off it guys the last 10 years must people have prospered beyond their wildest expectations. Must people cannot see it for looking for something else in life or they have a political agenda.

    I have worked hard to gain what I have got but I worked has hard under Tory rule but the opportunities, stability were not there only BOOM BUST.

    Its typical of the responses I am getting to my views. Just because I don’t see it the way you do I am set upon. Typical one-eyed nasty Tories and under line the facts that beneath the smiling Cameron and the Tories is the same nasty party.

    Good luck to you all in the Tory years you will need it.

  • Comment number 70.

    First can I say that I am someone who cannot stomach Brown, the politician, or any of his cronies! The sooner they are replaced by decent politicians with a real vision about how to create genuine social democracy and wealth re-distribution from the monstrous level of taxes they take from us, the better. Sadly, Hunky Dave and his merry band of clowns are not the answer.

    But the reason for this post is to express disgust at those who are attacking Brown and his family on here. In any walk of life there is a line to be drawn between someone's professional/working life and their private/social/family life. Decent people do not cross that line! Shame on those of you who are happily sniping at Brown, the man, and his family.

    And don't come back with the garbage about him being a public figure and therefore fair game. The one thing you cannot fault him for is his refusal to keep his family protected from becoming the celebrity "whores" that the British seem to love so much these days. whore his family for like the Blair's did.

    Only the retards that edit the Sun, News of the World and Daily Mail would argue that his family life is fair game in all of this.

    Shame, shame, shame!

  • Comment number 71.

    It really beggars me beyond belief!

    Are these not the same guys who whinge and moan when the media dig into their private lives, yet Mr Bean is here parading his family.

    Whilst I do have sympathy with his predicament, come on he is not alone. I spent many years fighting on the front line as a Labour Councillor, for similar families whom faced injustice under this government. Things haven’t changed much in the years since.

    Again Mr Bean whilst I do sympathise with your predicament, you should be on the front line fighting for those people in similar conditions, and not using your own predicament to appeal for the sympathy vote.

    Can politics in the UK get any lower.

    Before anyone points out – I was one of the 50% of the labour party who left, shortly after Teflon Tony and his prodigal son Mr Bean took control of that once great party.

    Labour Party RIP Hail NuLabour. What a pathetic joke!

  • Comment number 72.

    Kurisu wrote: Nobody outside of Sedgefield voted for Tony Blair, just like nobody outside of Kirkcaldy voted for Gordon Brown.

    What would happen if GB did not get a majority in Kirkcaldy?

  • Comment number 73.

    Brown may have thought "Fern Britton...ITV daytime TV? Time to "reconnect" with voters we've lost...". Why, though?

    The man amazes me. It is almost as if he and his team over-intellectualise the process of connecting with voters. Gordon, it isn't a crossword puzzle...

    One of the things you can say for the more charistmatic leaders of the past (McMillan, Wilson, Thatcher, Blair) is that they knew BY INSTINCT how to connect. Expecting Brown to connect is like expecting Alec Douglas Home to have gone down well at a Miners Gala.

  • Comment number 74.

    This week, This Morning. Next Week - Hello Magazine?

  • Comment number 75.

    not sure what's going on with the moderation on this topic, but my initial post which seems to have been removed was actually a pro-gordon posting (unique for me) saying that his family is his business and that if he wants to keep his family life private then he should be allowed to do so (ie along similar lines to posting 5).

  • Comment number 76.

    This is so far past “too little too late” its embarrassing.

    Fern on the sofa, an open shirt and a chat about the kids = finished.

    Prepare for leadership battles.

  • Comment number 77.


    For those who are not able to rationalise this situation, let me point out that it is open to the Labour Party to replace Brown with another from among their tribe. To infer that a negative comment about Brown amounts to a positive comment in favour of Cameron shows limited intellect.

    Brown should go because he is a calamity in the public arena. It is fair for all who accept this point to then make observations on his strategy of hiding behind his family to garner sympathy or support. In saying this, I am not attacking his wife or children.

    Is anyone still unsure about the range and intentions of the contributors who are negative about Brown?

  • Comment number 78.

    #69 - princebullett1, in the interests of not being one-eyed then, would you accept that the period of economic growth we have just had started in the Tory years, and was certainly not harmed by the sustained period of global growth that happened at the same time?

    Seriously, does anyone think that taking so much money from people that they can't afford to live, and then making them fill in pages of forms to get some back, is a great idea? Get real, abandon tax credits completely, just tax less to start with, and who knows, maybe you'll save enough money by cutting the red tape that you could afford to backdate the police pay rise like they promised to.

  • Comment number 79.

    #72 - hell would have long since frozen over before that would happen!

  • Comment number 80.

    Apparently Mr Beans minders had a prenuptial agreement for him not to talk about his family – but he did anyway.

    I am really inspired my Mr Beans leadership qualities!

    #79 - You may be right its starting to get colder!

    But there again the West Lothian question may be settled by those north of our borders.

  • Comment number 81.

    Re: #49
    I work for a private sector multi-national company. We have gone through a recent bout of "downsizing" and it wasn't pleasant. I don't read The Guardian and I am definitely NOT one of Gordon's advisors. I suspect I would be a touch better off if I was!

    However I do believe in this:
    (1) Brown is a guy who works incredibly hard
    (2) He is both decent and a man of prinicple
    (3) He has a record of delivery as Chancellor that Tories cannot stand.
    (4) I should be a prime target for switching to the Conservatives at the next election - and I probably would if Ken Clarke (for example) was leader.

    I do agree that personal finances are being squeezed. I don't agree that Osborne and Cameron have the intellectual or moral capacity to make my situation or that of most hard working families better. The supporters of Messrs Cameron et al reek of the worst form of bitterness that turns my stomach. It is petty, small and nasty.

  • Comment number 82.

    There is one way out of this mess and one way we can be sure Gordon Brown will never take: cut taxes.

    Gordon Brown will never cut taxes because that would involve relinquish of control.

    What is now truly hilarious is the short tempered way in which all ministers (and bloggers for that matter) now answer objections to their controling, high taxing ways. So if it's Brown, Cooper, Balls, Darling, Byrne, Millibands, Flint, Harman, Kelly, Smith, you name it they lose their rag with you for not understanding just how lucky you are to be ruled by them.

    It's like being back at primary school with these guys - non stop self righteous lecturing about the right person for the job, the right person to run the country, the right policies to steer us out of their self inflicted misery.

    Get over yourselves. We are.

  • Comment number 83.

    Nothing so far today other than a disastrous poll. I think there will be a collective sigh of relief in Downing Street, though I bet next week will be equally fraught as there are things coming up that are going to be rejected by parliament - 42 days etc.
    I hope Gordon starts to see sense and that it is not necessarily him but the government in general and there needs to be some heads rolling, including his own. 2 years until an election is a long time to cause as much pain and suffering to society, and particularly those who are the most vulnerable.
    I know it's off topic but I had to laugh last night on Question Time when Purnell said that tax credits were the way forward rather than 10p. Is it me? Surely this is just adding another layer of bureaucracy, hurting those who do not qualify for credits, and also offering the opportunity to make huge claims about poverty whereas people have no incentive to get off the benefits.
    I met a guy the other week who claimed he knows someone who gets family credits on top of his salary and this amounts to a wage of £30k. The redistribution of wealth in this country is just about to fall apart when families are claiming these sorts of benefits. Surely some responsibility needs to lie with the individual rather than relying on the state. Socialism is, in my book, on its way where it belongs now, and the pain of reorganising is about to begin.

  • Comment number 84.

    I think that Gordon Browns real talent was to constantly devise increasingly sneaky ways of taxing people more and more.

    Under the Labour Govt the key industries of growth have been :

    Human Rights Industry
    Political Correctness Industry
    Asylum Industry
    Immigration Industry
    Target Setting and Metrics Industry

    Most of which take money out of the system not contribute to it.

  • Comment number 85.

    Has anyone else noticed that everything Mr Brown does comes back to hit him like an explosive turd.

    He didn't by any chance talk to Fern about his 3 legged dog called Lucky did he?

  • Comment number 86.

    As it has been pointed out, there are quite a few comments that have been removed by the moderators for (allegedly) breaking the House Rules.

    The House Rules rightly prohibit offensive remarks and comments that are racist, sexist, homophobic, abusive etc etc. Therefore, to be accused of breaking the House Rules is quite a serious matter as it implies that the blogger is guilty of unacceptable behaviour.

    My original post was to make the point (later echoed by others) that Nick seems to portray Gordon Brown in a particularly favourable light. Whilst Nick might not agree, I wish to state clearly for the record that there was nothing remotely offensive in what I wrote. I have emailed and asked the moderators to explain, but no answer has come.

    In view of the number of comments that have been removed for no apparent reason, there is now a question as to whether this blog is being moderated in an impartial way. I wonder if you will allow this comment through?

  • Comment number 87.

    DistantTraveller, I don't think Nick is biased. But the BBC as an institution definitely is - and it is likely that most moderators are too: it's in their culture.

    The 'Have Your Say' moderators are the most 'guardianista tendency' biased of all.

  • Comment number 88.

    princebullett1 wrote:
    "If Gordo is a rubbish chancellor then explain why over the last 10 years I have been able to set up 2 businesses, have 2 new cars on my double driver, go on 2 overseas holidays and own my own home.

    In the previous 17 years of Tory miss rule I was made unemployed twice never got on the housing ladder because I didn?t know if I would have a job the week later had a 10 year old car on my rented drive and never took an overseas holiday."

    Prince, I started with a Scottish recruitment agency in 1996 and worked there for 4 years. The company was set up in about 1987 (Tory Government) and has since expanded to be extremely successful.

    Successful businesses are down to those running the company (provided their product sells), not who is in power.

  • Comment number 89.

    # 57 nice to hear some one tell the truth you only have to look around you to see the truth but you know the old saying
    "there's none so blind as them that can see but wont" Good luck to you lad, I notice the only comment to you was two holidays overseas, exactly like there leader no substance.

  • Comment number 90.

    I think there were few replies to #57 because his story proves nothing.

    I worked in manufacturing without a break from 1981 to 1997 under the Tories but have been made redundant twice since and had a business fail.

    So by your reasoning that must mean you agree that the Tories are great and Labour useless.

    I think your quote of "there's none so blind as them that can see but wont" is very apt for people still supporting Labour. It was the curse of the Tories from the early / mid 90's through to about 2 or 3 years ago. Labour are now in exactly the same position.

    Labour are doomed to lose the next election and unless they recognise all their faults and commit to changing, they will be out of power for 10 to 15 years or more.

  • Comment number 91.

    I agree with DistantTraveller - the Moderator of 'Brownspeak made simple' removed my comment for alledgedly breaking the House Rules. Likewise I also e-mailed the Moderator asking for a reason or specific examples - as I could see nothing offensive in what I wrote. Indeed I feel I was in tune with the general tone of the previous 42 blogs before mine.

    I must admit I am concerned that there are so many comments removed from this blog - which spookily enough also concerns itself with the clearly very unpopular individual who calls himself our Prime Minister.

    Is there blatant biaise being demonstrated here? Is the Moderator perhaps Gordon himself? Certainly something appears to be going on - both by the number of negative comments concerning the Labour Party and their Leader and by the attempt to stifle this debate.

    Gorge Orwell would be impressed - sounds very much like 'Animal Farm' to me!

  • Comment number 92.

    Getting back to the original thread oif this blog - Gordon Brown's 'public persona' - well there is a 21st centuary truth that applies to both those in politics and business. And the more senior you are the more it applies.

    It does not matter how clever, talented, intelligent, family oriented or sincere you really are - if you cannot come accross that way, if you cannot communicate that in a believable and sincere manner, if you cannot look the part, if you cannot look someone straight in the eye, if you cannot smile as thought you mean it or look genuinley sad, hurt or upset, then the problem is your ability to EFFECTIVELY COMMUNICATE.

    And this is the 21st centuary truth that is so necessar in our media obsessed world where politicians are judged on their ability to effectively communicate. Communicate passion, conviction, committment, belief, ideas, concepts, strategies and plans. AND YOU HAVE JUST 60-90 SECONDS TO DO IT IN - because that is what we all expect you to be able to do.

    We may find this truth offensive, difficult to deal with or accept, but truth it is - and Gordon Brown just does not have it.

    I will declare I am a supporter of the Conservative Party but I am a pragmatic and very experienced practitioner when it comes to effective communication - epecially helping leaders in business and public life communicate better.

    So I find I am in a quandry with regards to Gordon Brown - the Labour Party allowed him to become their leader and all that implies with regards to a 'public face' with out first checking his qualifications with regards to effective communications. They had countless clues during 10 years when he was Chancellor - he was always uncomfortable 'in public' and avoided public speaking, open debate and the media - but they ignored all the warnings.

    They are stuck with him for as long as they choose or until the Great British public vote him out (whichever comes first) - next time they should look under the bonnet before buying the car!

    As for Gordon Brown - he needs to go back to school for some intense public speaking training and find a new personality, a new persona, a new image and much much more. But that's a very tall order and in my experience an almost impossible task.

    I recall an old adage that goes:

    "He will be remembered not for his passing but in the manner of it"

    Nice try Gordon but go now with some dignity still intact

  • Comment number 93.

    I thought you were a "Political" commentator?.

  • Comment number 94.

    id rather see GB out and about answering unscripted questions from the public - on the streets, than see him parade his spin culture via sofa politics!

    pre interview terms and conditions?

    this is from a person who lectures us on the evils of spin and states he will stop the tv culture approach to running the country, then goes out and spends more on spin doctors and image consultants than blair did!

  • Comment number 95.

    it seems to me that the moderators are getting it from all sides so is Nick Robinson and the BBC. I do now, and have always believed that Nick and the BBC and definitely ITV are biased in favour of the Tories and yet all the Tories are saying it's the otherway, perhaps its because the Tories have always had that support that when these three occasionally support labour they become disgruntled, and throw their dummies out of the pram, I can understand that, we labour supporters are used to it, we also get it from the press in particular one newspaper with its constant drip of hate against the labour party. Most commentaters what ever party you support would have to admit that everything that labour does is not bad but this one newspaper has never printed a good word about Labour in eleven years. So we really do know what it feels like. To get back to the moderators, I recently have had a number of my comments removed and like the rest of you have no idea why, I fully expect this comment to be removed, it would be nice if when sending you an Email they were to underline the parts supposedly causing offence, I think if that simple procedure was carried out it would give us a clear understanding of the mindset of the moderaters it would be nice to know more about these people that decide if what we write is acceptable, like age and how long in the media business. As I say cant see this being published, I've probably offended a moderator.

  • Comment number 96.

    Some folks here are complaining about the moderation of this thread.

    If we can just put aside the fact that moderating is a very difficult job then posters must also accept that a 'soft-left' bias is part of the BBC's very DNA.

    The whole ethos of this 'public service' organisation is built around it.

    I accept that that is what it is, so am not surprised if some comments do not always get published, which possibly would the case if the Beeb was more 'centrist/neutral'.

    I suspect people get annoyed at this because of the way the Beeb is funded, effectively a tax, and of course, the lush pensions.

    However, we'll miss it when its gone ... or more accurately, renamed and refocussed when England gets its independence back.

    Or maybe that won't have to be the case for the 'BBC' as others organisations 'future-ologists' have already repositione dtheir brands to drop the emphasis on the word 'Britain' e.g. BT, BG, BAE, BAA etc.

    They have seen the {non-British} future.

  • Comment number 97.

    #90 you really must try to think of your own expressions ammusing or otherwise but then I guess your like your leader cant think for himself so he and many of your other commentators repeatedly try to use other peoples humour,Mr Bean and ditherer, very funny when used by Vince Cable, even Gordon had a laugh, but tired boring and incredibly overused by unimaginative MPs on the oposition benches, olso by equally unimaginative Tories on most Blogs.

  • Comment number 98.

    It's not just Brown, it's the lot of them. To quote Terry Thomas, "What a shower!"

    The news that Boots the Chemist is paying Patricia Hewitt a yearly 'CONsultancy' fee that most of us affected by the 10p tax change wouldn't earn in a lifetime is deeply depressing. As is the news that Tony Blair is getting $5m a year from JP Morgan for a few days' work.

    Most of our MPs seem to have their snouts in the trough. How can we believe they are looking after our interests when, clearly, they are simply lining their own pockets?

    We need a root and branch change to the way we are governed - and that's coming from a former member of the Labour Party - not from some extreme political group.

    I don't expect this from the Tories (vote blue, be green). Where, oh where, are the honest men and women we need to act on our behalf?

    Nick, sort them out!

  • Comment number 99.

    To grandantidote

    Given that 5 out of the next 9 comments after #57 were responses to it, and that princebullett1 replied to those in post #69, it is difficult to understand why you believe he only got one response.

    Maybe you're following the labour strategy of stating something that's blatantly not true in the hope that mud sticks?

  • Comment number 100.

    Grandantidote (#97),

    You cannot be serious when you say Gordon laughed at Cable's "Mr Bean" comment - he was seething. I take it you have always voted Labour, your parents and grandparents always voted Labour and you are unable to think for yourself if this is your assessment of that critical moment?

    I also think the moderators should share with us their reasons for blocking various posts as I suspect, along with those who have been blocked, that this is nothing more than removing anti-Labour comments. Without Nu-Labour most of the BBC would find themselves in the dole queue.


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