Sunday, 14 February 2010

Gordon's Tears at Bedtime

The General Election campaign is now well and truly under-way and Gordon Brown's interview with Piers Morgan has raised the game.

I attended the first filming of Piers Morgan's series when he interviewed Ulrika Johnson and was struck by the way in which Morgan's interviewing style combined with the layout of the studio places immense pressure on the interviewee. The environment is brilliantly designed. The person being interviewed is surrounded on 3 sides by the audience and is face-to-face with the interviewer - so there is no escape and Morgan doesn't hesitate to ask any intrusive question he thinks of. The environment forces an answer.

But. Morgan clearly pulled his punches for Brown. He came up with a few nominally tough and intrusive questions in the early parts of the interview but then just set Brown up with opportunities to look good.

There were a few interesting pieces/revelations:

1) Blair and Brown discussed the leadership before the death of John Smith was announced. Brown related how he phoned Blair, told him about John Smith's death and then immediately discussed the leadership - blimey. They obviously managed to contain their grief..

2) Brown admitted doing a deal on the leadership with Blair before the Granita dinner. Almost as an after-thought he said that 'the British people play a part in this' - nice of him to think of us.

Overall the interview did humanise Brown a little. But I think it played too heavily on the grief of his daughter's death.  Fortunately this is something that few people can empathise with, but any parent can pity. So he didn't create a point of empathy.

The Conservative reaction will be interesting to watch. I guess Labour will be hoping that David Cameron will churlishly refuse to engage in a personality competition as Brown has grasped this initiative. I hope he doesn't. Cameron has the advantage here and shouldn't be put off by this early lead. He needs to sell himself to the British public over the next few weeks and months.


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