22 February 2010

A Bitter Taste in the Mouth

It's been an ugly weekend for Gordon Brown. First, details of Andrew Rawnsley's book emerge, including passages alleging that Brown bullies his staff. And then everyone goes doolally.

First, Iain Dale publishes art by Louis Sidoli comparing Brown with Hitler.

Then, attempts to counter the allegations of bullying on Labour's part backfire spectacularly when the head of the National Bullying Helpline declares that staff members at Number 10 have accessed her service.

Now, Labour figures are apoplectic and I have to be honest here: it's hard to disagree.

Firstly, let me make this absolutely 100% clear for the avoidance of doubt: it's not cool to compare your opponent to Hitler. Whatever you think about Gordon Brown, he has not tried to annex half of Europe and has not sent six million Jews to an early death. Let's get a sense of perspective here.

Second, like many others, I'm disturbed that Christine Pratt decided to blow the whistle as to where some of her service's users work. It's a confidential helpline. It has to be. And she's blown that confidentiality out of the water for what? To make a point? It's an ill wind: I know for sure that I wouldn't want personal details like that, particularly over something so distressing as a feeling of harassment strewn out across the media, used to pick over by the commentariat: I wouldn't want my anguish to become a piece of a political puzzle. Yet that is what Pratt has turned the stress of those workers into. Sickening.

And indeed, the reaction of the media resembles the same bullying that we're accusing Brown of and condemning him for. Not a good way to make a point.

Nevertheless, I find it hard to be sympathetic.

After all, it was a Labour MP (Anne Moffat) who said this:

"Proportional representation gave Germany Adolf Hitler and in Scotland to a lesser degree we've had the member for Banff and Buchan".

So it's a little rich for Labour to cry foul at comparisons with Hitler when they've been only too happy to dish them out in the past.

Further, while the current campaign against Brown leaves a bitter taste, consider this.

Which party superimposed the faces of Michael Howard and Oliver Letwin on a pair of pigs with wings? Labour.

Which party's Holyrood campaign included a cartoon of another party's leader as a petulant (and somewhat slow) child? Labour.

Which party arranged for an activist to follow a rival By-Election candidate around in a top hat and tails? Labour.

Which party bizarrely sent out leaflets accusing an SNP candidate of - heaven forfend! - supporting independence?! Labour.

Which party criticised a By-Election candidate for being a member of the same religious sect as a former Minister from their own party? Labour.

Which party lost a spin doctor as he planned to make up stories about the opposition for an attack blog? Labour.

Which party has, in government, seen ministers and aides brief against each other in a ridiculous display of political chicanery and pisspoor attempt at machismo? Labour.

Which party saw one of its Councillors describe his then-Ministerial namesake (and party colleague!) as the 'runt of the litter'? Labour.

Which party saw another of its Councillors deride women as 'thick' on his blog? Labour.

I don't like this new political culture, where spite and bile replace debate, where personal insult is used as a substitute for policy discussions. It's the style of tabloids like the Sun, and politicians should steer well clear of it. So I take no joy in the current pelting Gordon Brown is getting as it's needlessly vitriolic and turns attention away from some of the real catastrophic points of the present Government: Trident, the erosion of civil liberties, the 10p tax debacle, tuition fees, foundation hospitals, PFI, the continuation of Thatcherite housing policies and worst of all, Iraq. Those are the real attack points, not the fact that Gordon Brown behaves in a manner similar to, for example, Sir Alex Ferguson.

But it's a culture brought to us by the same people who are now complaining about it, and I had to laugh at this post by Terry Kelly who has a reputation for being hostile to anyone who has the temerity to be in another party than Labour, and who only ever described the First Minister as "Salmond (the Spiv)". But slag off Gordon Brown, and my, doesn't he get precious?

As I said, I don't like what politics is becoming, and on that, I agree with those in Labour who have thrown their arms up in dismay at the events of the past few days. But it's their colleagues who have set us all on this awful, awful course.

Labour have spent years happily dishing it out, but now it's being thrown back, they can't take it. And that appalling display of hypocrisy and cowardice is what leaves the bitterest taste in my mouth.


Anonymous said...

Utterly brilliant post.

I have to add to your list, the party that criticised the Deputy First Minister for her support of a constituent who had criminal charges against him, when their own FM and PM did the same sort of thing.

They are playing at gutter politics... and they can't even get that right, god help us.

I'll put a link to this on my own blog... It's brilliant.

Anonymous said...

I see you have a double up, thanks to tris, so might as well make it the treble - Brilliant!

An excellent piece, well worth reading and taking on board. I'm glad someone had the good sense to send me over here.

Allan said...

Spot on there. Your list at the bottom of your page is not so much real catastropic points of this Government,but really a list of reasons not to vote New Labour (and yes Gerry Hassan probably thinks gthat New Labour is dead,but is is very far from dead, who comes after Brown will determine whether New Labour is finnished or not). It can all be best described in my description of them as Thatcherism Lite.

By the way, if you think Cllr Terry Kelly is hilarious, you should read some of the columns from our local MSP's, Henry and Alexander. Priceless. My favourite was the one by Alexander bemoaning the axing of the GARL and questioning the wisdom of setting up a rail link to the Borders. Priceless!

Clairwil said...

Excellent post. For those unfamiliar with Cllr Kelly here he is indulging in the highest standards of debate (and yes it is him this time)