28 October 2008

Seriously, though

From the Sunday Mail, on the 19th of October:

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray... said: "These are serious times for serious people like Gordon Brown."

From the BBC, today:

PM Gordon Brown has criticised Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross for their "inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour" on Brand's radio show.

Wonderful, isn't it? We're looking at worldwide financial losses of £1.8trillion, 500,000 householders in the UK in negative equity with a further 700,000 at risk, the value of workers' pensions falling by a third, a UK economy that is now shrinking, and a likely 45,000 repossessions across the UK (so much for those vaunted safeguards Labour are bragging about!) and in the middle of all of that, the Prime Minister, that serious man for serious times, is pratting about passing judgement on two overpaid wankers who, for some inexplicable reason, were let loose in the vicinity of a microphone.

Be serious. Or don't be serious. But choose one, and stick to it. And if you're going to get your allies talking about how serious you are, don't waste time prattling on about Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross.

PS For the record, although Brand isn't my favourite, ahem, "entertainer", I do enjoy the weekly column in the Guardian sports section, penned by his ghost-writer.


Scott @ loveandgarbage said...

A similar thought had crossed my mind ;-)

As for Brand in the Guardian - he's no Martin Kelner, and for me Kelner remains the standard (eg yesterday's column on You're On Sky Sports was a joy)

Anonymous said...

In fairness this one's a bit of a lose:lose situation for Brown.

I could be wrong but doubt he put out a press release on this. Instead I presume he was asked about it at a press conference?

If so he can hardly say anything other than what he did. Otherwise it either looks he doesn't know what's going on or doesn't care.

I'm fairly sure that any leader - north or south of the border - that was asked this question at an open press conference would have said the same.

Anonymous said...

Oh and I meant to say it's surely then the fault of the media for asking the PM such a question during these serious times.

But of course some media people never tire of talking about other media people.

Will said...

You're right about the press having a part to play in this, and in the general trivialisation of politics. Though as yet I don't know the precise set of circumstances leading to Brown's entry into the matter. Andy Burnham's intervention is quite correct on account of this being his balliwick, but I know that my estimation of Brown would have shot up massively if, when asked, he said something the lines of, "I've spent the day trying to respond to the global economic crisis - do you think I have time to give a shit about the antics of two overpaid fops on a radio station?"

Well, maybe without the swearing, but there you go. I'd just love for one politician somewhere, anywhere, to remind political journalists that they are not writing for Heat magazine. And in these serious times, who better to make that point than a serious man?

Anonymous said...


I understand your point but, as I'm sure you're aware this is simply never going to happen.

Politicians are a daily target for the media - so why would they attract even more criticism over something which isn't their fault?

And this applies to all politicians north and south of the border - they would all have given the same answer if quizzed.

And what was it that was said about politics only being showbusiness for ugly people anyway?

Anonymous said...

I totally agree this is the last thing Gordon Brown should be commenting on.

But I do have to say Brand's guardian columns are certainly not ghost-written.

Calum Cashley said...

yip, Brown's been branded ....

I'll get my coat

Anonymous said...

I think the complaints are largely party political - IoC is spot on.

Clearly Broon should be concentrating on the economy, but surely this doesn't mean he should be excluding all other issues, particularly when it looks like his intervention amounted to little more than a brief answer to a question posed by a journalist.

Indeed, there are at least a couple of important issues at stake here such as the pay that these 'stars' earn, what their conduct tells us about standards in the media, not to mention things like BBC accountability and media regulation generally.

More important, surely, than where Mary Queen of Scots is buried, for example?

Will, your suggested response to the question would have taken Broon as long as his actual response, so why not just make the more substantive point then get on with saving the world economy, feeding the starving etc ;-0

Will said...

IoC, I can but dream. And Prescott would have said it.

Stuart, a more economical way of saying it could always be found. ;) Besides, this is Andy Burnham's area and he was handling it well - there was no need for Brown to wade in.

And Christine Grahame is not a Minister, so has a little time on her hands to call for the repatriation of dead queens and a rejig of the border. Ministers, however, don't really have the time to actually act on her suggestions. As to whether that's good or bad, well, you be the judge...

Anonymous said...

Will, I thought you would reply in those terms about Christine Grahame, but how is the importance of these issues to be assessed in relation to how long the PM should spend on them, assuming that such an assessment isn't being used to make a party political point ;-0

However, much has been made of Alex Salmond's visits to Glenrothes, but you'd think the First Minister of Scotland would have better things to do at this time of crisis than to go electioneering for a Westminster seat that will make little difference to anything whichever way it goes.

No doubt I could fish out a few recent quotes by Mr Salmond on matters trivial which would underline my point, but I canna be bathered.

And given how the Brand/Ross issue has kicked off big style since the PM made his remarks - rightly or wrongly - what I said earlier about the issue hardly being of no consequence is underlined.

Will said...

Stuart, if you actually read the post properly, you'd see that my beef with Brown is his conceit at being a "serious person", then allowing himself to get drawn into such a trivial, pointless matter.

He can't be the stern "serious person for serious times" and then break off from discussing economic policy to condemn Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross for being tits.

Besides, Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary was making all the right noises on this one and the only reason it blew up as it did was because the Daily Mail needed something to be offended about last week. Brown didn't need to get involved and his intervention is at odds with the image he wishes to project as the supposed serious man, so if anything, it was counter-productive.

Alex Salmond's not trying to dress up in the hairshirt that Gordon Brown is brandishing, and Christine Grahame is starting to go a little Abe Simpson on these matters anyway.