The media often shouts about how Members of Parliament just don’t get it. They didn’t get it on 10p tax, they don’t get it on expenses, they don’t get it on voting reform. In short, they don’t live in the real world. They’re isolated in their little bubble around Whitehall. They don’t understand how we live in the real world and television shows like the completely cringe-worthy Tower Block of Commons do absolutely bugger all to dispel these ideas. Not that I’m going to waste a blogpost on a bad television program, though I don’t doubt the media will produce a fair few column inches on Tim Loughton’s dancing. The point is that the professional commentariat often complain about how out of touch are our politicians. How they lack an understanding of real life and fail to show a human side.
I cried only last night. Admittedly, it was tears of laughter at Michael Gove’s performance on Newsnight, but they were real tears nonetheless. Previously to that, I’ve shed tears at a few different times in recent years. In times of stress or high emotion. Funerals, Newcastle United being relegated from the Premiership, when I burned some fish I’d been really looking forward to. I’m a child of the 80s and 90s. The modern metrosexual awake to my emotions and not afraid to show them, or so Cosmo-reading friends tell me. But, then again, I’m not in professional politics.
The hypocrisy of the press in complaining first that politicians are insensitive automatons and then that they use emotion to spin a point, is very impressive. When Alastair Campbell had a moment of frustration on Andrew Marr’s show, I didn’t blame him. The questioning was trite and disinterested. It was still pretty compulsive viewing, waiting with baited breath for a venting of anger in some sort of fury the like of which Whitehall myths and legends were built on in the late 1990s, and that lead to the creation of the caricature Malcolm Tucker. Alastair did well to bring it all under control and carry on in a dignified way.
As soon as it was trailed that Gordon Brown shed a tear when asked about the death of his daughter by Piers Morgan, the blogosphere lit up with pronouncements that he’d faked it for sympathy. Mark Twain said “any emotion, if it is sincere, is involuntary”. The idea that a man can pretend to cry and convince a former newspaper editor, a studio audience, and the zoom lenses of the TV cameras – not to mention the several million who will watch – of sincerity is pretty far-fetched. Especially when everyone knows the Prime Minister’s presentation skills. He’s no actor. He has an intellect the size of a small moon, an ability to focus on minutiae, and the skills to make an argument. But he can’t act. Nor should we want him to! Politician’s are people too, and should be allowed to show it.