Home > News and politics > Steve Richards: Unless Brown breaks free from the shackles of his past, he will never engage with voters – Independent Online Edition > New Articles

Steve Richards: Unless Brown breaks free from the shackles of his past, he will never engage with voters – Independent Online Edition > New Articles


Sooner or later political leaders are trapped by their own pasts. Gordon Brown is caught in a stylistic trap, a manacled constraint that served him well long ago but threatens to be a fatal incarceration now.On the BBC’s Today programme yesterday Brown was asked whether he enjoyed being Prime Minister. He could not answer this simplest of questions. Instead he spoke awkwardly of the daily challenges in the job and the dutiful inspiration of his father, obtuse responses and ones that are so familiar they are already tediously formulaic.The Prime Minister was equally over-rehearsed when reflecting on the tough decisions he would take in relation to what he repeated too many times were the long-term challenges. A listener could almost hear the agonised calculations: “I must not say I am enjoying the job as that would sound frivolous … I must get across the idea that I am meeting the long-term challenges and imply that Cameron is incapable of doing so.”Why can’t Brown answer questions in an engaging way? It is one of the easiest of the political arts and yet he treats some interviews as if they were the equivalent of swimming the Channel after a 26-mile run, nightmarishly arduous and demanding a range of contortions.

Steve Richards: Unless Brown breaks free from the shackles of his past, he will never engage with voters – Independent Online Edition > New Articles

I had just the same thoughts when I heard a snippet of Brown’s interview on Sunday morning TV. His answers are so labored and rehearsed it’s unbelievable. It’s as though he’s been told to include several sound-bites or phrases as many times as possible (to reinforce them in the the public consciousness the PR gurus no doubt tell him) and then just regurgitates them as they pop into his head, regardless of whether they answer the question or even produce I coherent sentence. Considering the year’s of practice it’s a disappointing performance and doesn’t show any signs of improving.

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