Gordon Brown gets it right

This is nothing to do with political balance (an earlier blog recommended you take advice from David Cameron). It has everything to do with getting it right. Not even his worst enemies could fault Gordon Brown on the way he handled the personal crisis he faced at the very bitter end of his prime ministership.

Forced to hang on while the Lib Dems played off one party against another, he decided enough was enough and he was off. No one should hang on like grim death to anything but not having the courage to take decisive action is what makes so many crises turn into dramatic disasters. He was right to leave and pronto – as soon as it became clear there was no chance of a Lib-Lab coalition. The next question to deal with was how.

What puts most people off making decisions is fear of the consequences but these can be managed – if you anticipate what they might be. For Gordon Brown, the consequences were no longer about his political life and reputation; they were over. They were about salvaging respect (for himself and for his wife and family) so he could build a new life. Having already declared that he and Sarah did not want to seek roles in business (though I bet a few well-paid consultancies creep in) but that they wanted to make a contribution through voluntary work, he needed to look and sound like a charitable fellow.

By making a speech that put his role as husband and father centre stage in his life, he instantly softened the tough, out of touch image the public had built up of him. But then what? Leaving by the front door of No 10 and walking down Downing Street in full public glare takes a lot of courage when the nation has rejected you. To do so with his two small sons, looking like a normal family man, was a masterstroke. The risk was that he could be accused of exploiting his children for his own ends but seeing such a happy family of four, all joined by holding hands, the adults sharing a joke or offering an explanation to the boys – just as so many mums and dads do – put him firmly in the warm, everyday world that charities work so hard to achieve.

We saw for the first time (well, for the first time since his daughter Jennifer died) a human being with vulnerabilities, modesty, humour and respect for others – an all round good egg.  And that’s exactly what he needed to show.

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