Gordon Brown: I was not ‘touchy feely’ enough for modern politics

Written by Liz Bates on 30 October 2017 in News

In his forthcoming autobiography, the former Prime Minister writes that he was not an "ideal fit" for the top job 

Gordon Brown: Picture credit - PA

Gordon Brown has admitted that he did not show enough emotion to win the 2010 election. 

In his forthcoming autobiography, the former Prime Minister writes that he was not an "ideal fit" for the top job as he was unable to express his feelings publicly.

He also defends his handling of the 2008 financial crash, but concedes that he failed to communicate what he was doing successfully to the public.

“I failed to rally the nation. We won the battle – to escape recession – but we lost the war – to build something better,” Brown writes.

“The modern version of ‘connecting’ seems to increasingly include a public display of emotion, with the latter – authentic or not – seen as evidence of a sincerity required for political success.

“In a far more touchy-feely era, our leaders speak of public issues in intensely personal ways and assume they can win votes simply by telling their electors that they ‘feel their pain’. For me, being conspicuously demonstrative is uncomfortable.”

“I am not, I hope, remote, offhand or uncommunicative. But if I wasn’t an ideal fit for an age when the personal side of politics had come to the fore.

“I hope people will come to understand this was not an aloofness or detachment or, I hope, insensitivity or a lack of emotional intelligence on my part.”

The former Prime Minister, goes on to note his distrust over the use of social media, describing it as a “shouting match without an umpire.”

“Too often, all we are hearing is the sound of voices like our own. The turnaround is so instantaneous that, for the luxury of sounding off, we often forgo the duty to sit and think.

“And because differentiation is the name of the political game – showing what divides you from your opponent, not what you have in common – achieving a consensus in a wilderness of silos is difficult, if not impossible,” he writes.

Brown also describes a long-standing battle to keep his eye-sight, revealing that he was warned by doctors in 2009 that he may lose his vision entirely. 

Referring to the day he “knew something was wrong,” he says he woke up in Downing Street and his “vision was very foggy”.

Having retained his eye-sight on one side, he continues, makes him feel “lucky beyond words”.

Brown’s share of the proceeds from the book, entitled My Life, Our Times, will go to the Jennifer Brown research laboratory at Edinburgh University, set up in memory of the child he and his wife Sarah lost in 2002.



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