I suspect this column won’t win me many votes but I feel the need today to defend what many people regard as the indefensible.
For today I will put my proverbial tin hat on and try to defend politicians. Again.
I do so despite the fact that I accept we are operating in the most hostile, cynical and negative climate about politicians we have ever had to face. And I am fairly certain that even as a pretty proud cynic myself, this isn’t really very healthy.
I have been dragged to the politician-defending barracks again following the reaction to Gordon Brown’s interview with Piers Morgan on Sunday night.
In many ways it was a rather toe-curling exercise watching the preening Mr Morgan pushing the PM on such frivolities of his beach-based proposal to wife Sarah. However, the gentle nature of the interview process really brought the ‘dour Scot’ out of himself. Without a heavyweight political agenda to defend, Brown opened himself up and revealed hitherto unknown aspects of his private life and his private tragedies.
It was actually a very skilful interview by Piers Morgan who knew exactly what he was doing by taking the PM away from Number 10 and as such we learned a lot more about the man behind the famous door than we may have expected.
I doubt, to be honest, if the show won or lost Labour votes but I did feel I was seeing someone being sincere. And yet if you read or listened to some of the reactions that followed the show you would never have believed it. Some critics claimed it was all fake, questioned Brown’s tears or said it was a cynical election exercise. All of which left me feeling nothing short of despair.
You would have to be a total monster to fake tears talking about your first born dying after 10 days – and Gordon Brown may be many things but a monster he ain’t.
In my opinion we have got to this destructive state of politician-bating because of the current state of our dire economic position and last year’s admittedly depressing MPs’ expenses row. As such people are so angry about the people who govern that they will believe any rubbish spouted about them – however far-fetched and ridiculous.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not about to recommend sainthood for our political ‘masters’ and it is obvious there are a lot of them who prove the bad apple in every bunch theory. But then again I can’t think of a single profession that is whiter than white. And if you think yours is, let me know and I will dig into our archives and show you why you are wrong.
So, with an election coming I just hope we can raise the level of debate a bit. Let’s tone down the childish conspiracy theories and not treat our politicians and would-be politicians like we used to treat lepers in the Middle Ages.
Politicians are human beings complete with the same failings as the rest of us but the majority – and I believe it is the overwhelming majority – are just ordinary people who want to make a difference.
Give ’em a break, hey?
This article appears in the Bath Chronicle on Thursday, February 18.