It’s not hard to see why the Prime Minister opted for a soft interview with Piers Morgan as his latest attempt to relaunch himself with the British public. Forget that he said he wasn’t the kind of politician who used his family as political props (always a daft thing for someone in public life to say). The Life Stories show is perfect format for the purposes of the celebrity-politician, designed to reveal only that which the guest carefully intends to share with the public. It is anti-journalism. All the pre-briefing and carefully-managed reaction was designed to leave all control in the hands of the invitee. This is particularly true of the moment of supposed loss of control – "the weep". The whole package is demeaning to everyone concerned.
The question during the faux-expectation in the run-up to the broadcast was "will it work?" – i.e will the performance turn the polls around or persuade people on the doorstep that Gordon is not a cream-faced loon. Considering the fact that Piers Morgan counts himself as a personal friend of the Browns and ITV did everything in its power to make the PM look his best, it would be staggering if this piece of gratuitous puffery didn’t have some effect.
In reality, it is the 21st century equivalent of those old-style deferential interviews where government ministers were invited to share their wisdom with the nation. In this case, Morgan effectively said: "Prime Minister, is there something you would care to emote about at this point?"
On the face of it, Brown couldn’t lose here. In fact, he has lost considerable self-respect. If the interview succeeds in boosting his personal rating, what does he do next time there is a dip? And if it makes no difference, he has sold his soul for nothing.
Susan Hill’s moving and eloquent take on this issue can be found here.Tags: Deference, Election 2010, Gordon Brown, Labour in Crisis, Piers Morgan, Politics (UK)