I was doing my show on 18DoughtyStreet last night when I saw on my laptop that news had emerged that Gordon & Sarah Brown's new baby had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. I wasn't sure whether to ask my guests about it and have a short discussion on it, but I decided against on the basis that if I didn't know what to say (and I didn't) then I suspected all we would come out with was the usual expressions of sympathy.
The Browns must be shattered, particularly after the death of their daughter. Things like this bring politics into perspective and make some of the silly political games we all indulge in look absolutely pathetic. I am sure every single reader of this blog would want to put political differences aside and express their good wishes to the Brown family.
Agreed Iain. When it comes to kids, esepcially your own, then political differences are meaningless.
Very best wishes to the Browns. I hope they will get support and sympathy from all sides of the political spectrum. I'm sure they can also take some comfort in the ever-improving technology and treatment available for CF.
Happily join you in expressing sympathy for them.
I'd hoped after the death of their daughter all their parenting experiences would be good ones.
Well said, Iain. Some things are more important than politics and finance. With best wishes to Gordon and Sarah and other parents facing the same trial.
Well handled Iain.
Yes, it is very sad. I was going to blog it but thought the better of it. I actually know Gordon Brown's brother relatively well. Its a sad day for the Brown family and no light should be made of this event.
Lets hope the frothing hordes trying to keep him out of the top job lay low for a few days.
Of course it's sad and like everyone else in the same position the Browns deserve sympathy
But they've known about this for months, and the explicit announcement of it at this time, complete with staged family photos, is nevertheless also a carefully considered contribution to Project Gordon.
Iain, I'm sure all your readers would want to express their sympathies both with the Browns and with the many other parents of seriously ill children.
Just a small point. The diagnosis took place some time ago. But the reason for the announcement yesterday was that The Sun was about to publish. So I don't think this was entirely in the hands of Brown.
I agree too Iain, even a sworn political enemy of New Labour like myself is forced to put down my guns in sympathy - for now...
Can only follow the others on congratulating you on making a good and timely point, Iain.
Absolutely. We should put aside the sideshow and show some human understanding.
Best wishes to GB and his family.
Absolutely, the "day job" pales into insignificance where family is concerned. Best wishes to all the Brown family.
My sympathies to the Browns and other families who are similarly unfortunate. Somewhat disconcerted to learn that tests are carried out as a norm in Scotland.If this is correct Why not elsewhere in UK. And why does the Treasury make an announcement on more funding?
You were right Iain, this is a situation that Brown hater though I am, the news upset me when I heard it. As a new Dad, I hate to think what Gordon and his wife are going through.
It's very sad news for the Browns. Inevitably it will make their life very difficult and is likely to mean that as good loving parents they will want to focus the majority of their time on their child in these early precarious years.
Inevitably this is going to affect the Labour party also. Clearly there is little chance that Gordon Brown could consider abandoning his wife and child and running for the leadership now. I'm sure that for the good of his family and ultimately his country he will decide it's time to step away from the limelight all together.
This is not a time to criticise Mr Brown. So whilst many may say that some of the decisions at the Treasury have been very erratic of late, the rampant overspending, the tax credits system, the pensions collapse, the NI debacle just unfolding now to name just a few things, perhaps we should all just take a little time to consider that he has been through a very difficult time already and will inevitably go thro a very difficult time over the next few years. Perhaps it's not surprising that the running of the treasury has suffered and perhaps we should all just understand that this was perhaps inevitable - now that we understand a little more of what has been happening in his life.
Mr Cameron's message of support was entirely appropriate. As someone who, a number of years ago now, had to deal with difficult years of sleepless nights, he doubtless knows, more than most, how a tragedy such as this completely consumes one's life.
I guess now Mr Brown's old political ambitions probably seem to him to be almost completely irrelevant compared to the opportunity to spend every possible second with his family.
Some may say this is doubly cruel blow for Mr Brown, coming at a time, when unlike Mr Cameron who was an unknown opposition back-bencher when his life was consumed by his personal tragedy, was at the very threshold of the power he has sought for so many years.
But I know millions of us around this country will support him in placing his family first, not shirking his responsibilities, not asking his country to compromise or asking them to put up with a potential prime minister who's mind simply could never be on his job.
When Mr Brown steps down from the Treasury and proudly makes his way to the back benches as he now almost certainly will, regardless of political preference we should cheer him and thank him for having already tried to do a difficult and demanding job in very difficult circumstances and crucially for recognising both his and our priorities. His loyalty to his family, his country and finally his party will be unquestionable.
Yup, even I agree with this.
Crossfire - I agree with you but I think he will probably try and stay on as Chancellor anyway.
Crossfire, apologies if you are simply very naive rather than spiteful but your blatant attempt to make a political point from a family tragedy is contemptible.
Whatever one's politics, as a father I know how awful this reality must be, and one can only feel enormous sympathy for the Brown family.
There is nothing special about the Brown's situation sad as it is. They will get best attention for Fraser now and for ever. Think of all parents who have children with conditions and most of them will battle on their without support and at the mercy of a deadbeat NHS. Brown has a misplaced opinion of NHS thanks to his preferential and deferential treatment. All ill children have need of special care.
Crossfire - I hope you were being ironic.
Sad News - some people are saying that Brown is making 'a political point from a family tragedy'. This does seem cynical. I am not being.
As a father myself I simply find it inconceivable that anyone would put a 15 year, old, unfulfilled, and relatively irrelevant political ambition in front of the care of their only child.
Does anyone seriously think that his leadership ambitions are not now completely at an end ? What kind of a man do you think he is ?
His son's hospital is in Scotland !
Do you seriously think he would or should put a job, that he should have fought for in 1994 if he really wanted it, ahead of precious and possibly very limited time with his only child ?
If Brown was making a political point by distributing this story to every newspaper rather than just the Sun I suspect it was simply because he was preparing the ground for the announcement he will probably make in the next few days about his future.
So whilst he may have done this to so that everyone understands his position and understands why he cannot consider taking on more responsibilities, I don't personally feel like condeming him for manipulating this as a big media story when as many people point out it is simply a tragedy that affects many who like him just make the neccesary changes demanded and move on.
Excuse me for not wanting to participate in this Diana-esque orgy of grief, but I've never met Gordon Brown and therefore have little genuine sympathy for him or his family. That's not to say that what he has found out (months ago) about his son is not sad. But I feel as much sympathy for him as I would for any other random, grumpy Scottish bloke I don't know.
And I think you're wrong, Iain, to say that this news puts politics into perspective. Politics is about the destruction/improvement of thousands/millions of peoples' lives. So surely, politics should put Gordon Brown's sad news into perspective, not the other way round.
What's happened to his family is a random genetic mutation. But many of his acts and the acts of the government have resulted in the wilful destruction of thousands of lives.
Verity - Yes I suppose I am. It does indeed seem ironic that after so many years of Mr Brown wanting to move into No.10 and never making his move that now, just when everyone thought he was finally going to start his campaign for the leadership.. fate deals him a cruel blow and again dashes his hopes.
Finally Tony Blair agrees to step aside, Mr Brown envisages a clear road ahead, but no.. there is an insurmountable roadblock.
Was it Tony Blair who said, to Michael Parkinson I think, that 'Politics can be very hard.'
But at least Mr Brown can now concentrate on the important things rather than chasing his impossible dreams.
Some things are much more important than politics, and the health of your family and loved ones is one of them. Gordon and Sarah are in my thoughts and prayers.
A friend of mine in the US had three bad siezures last Friday and has left her with total amnesia. She is far more important than politics to me and it really puts life in to perspective
Crossfire - perhaps you are right. This kind of thing does put politics into perspective. Why would anyone put their political ambitions in front of their family's needs ?
a) Gordon Brown has two children, not an only child.
b) "I simply find it inconceivable that anyone would put a 15 year, old, unfulfilled, and relatively irrelevant political ambition in front of the care of their only child." Get real - when such situations arise people do not stop the rest of their life, they get on with things. CF suffers have a life expectancy currently of 30+ and with gene theraphy there is every hope of a normal life. I find your suggestion that anyone in such a situation who does not give up work and spend every hour at home ill informed, impractical, and offensive.
Crossfire - Dream on. The pension-fund raider and causer of much misery in the lives and hopes of others will go ahead and run for Leader.
Sad News - Im not for a moment suggesting that he can't work or trying to insult anyone.
I'm just saying that inevitably he will feel that he can't stay in such a demanding job that can brook no distractions, when at any moment he may need to spend very, very precious time with his family.
I gather that Mr Brown is quite understandably in turmoil. The BBC had to switch off their cameras at a recent event when he just burst into tears and cried uncontrollably.
I think under the circumstances, to ask him to do more than fulfill his constituents demands, and perhaps even this will be too much, would be terribly unfair.
Verity - Of course there are many things that Mr Brown can be criticised for but surely disloyalty is not one of them.
He has valiantly supported Tony Blair through thick and thin, running his election campaigns and economically supporting all his schemes despite the conflict with his own ambition because of his deep sense of duty.
So I can't see why he would abandon his duty to his family, party and country now.
He has set aside his own ambition before, and I can't see why he would not do so now, when he knows that his thoughts will be constantly with his family rather than on his work.
My son only has a part time job.
Expressions of sympathy most welcome.
Crossfire: I assume that you also expect David Cameron to resign, for the same reasons.
Crossfire you are very kind to Mr Brown. Let your consideration not push the truth to one side.
1 He has not supported Blair. He has undermined him at every possible opportunity which is why we have an ossified so called 'modernisation program'
2 Brown has put constraints on the Defence budget as Blair increases army commitments. The results of their failure to communicate and to act together can be seen in military cemetries.
3 Brown's sense of duty to this country is something we can do without. His 15 year sulk has cost us dear.
I have no doubt he is a good parent. I hope all children with CF get good care and attention. I do not think his or Cameron's case are special.
Well said, Tom!
Crossfire writes: "Of course there are many things that Mr Brown can be criticised for but surely disloyalty is not one of them." Who mentioned disloyalty? Where did that come from?
"He has valiantly supported Tony Blair through thick and thin,...". If we still had capital punishment, that would be a hanging offence.
Gordon Brown's a sleazy, opportunistic, self-serving politician. He will go on to pursue his ambition to be Leader.
I feel as though we've been caught in the middle of 'Deliverance'. Remember Duelling Banjos? Brown and Cameron duel it out for who has the biggest cross to bear. Not who is the strongest, but whose child is the weakest. This is ridiculous.
All this personalising of politicians and their families seems to started with John F Kennedy and it gives me the heebee-jeebies. I was hoping the Dianafication of Britain was on the wane. (Needless to say, if she'd been alive today, she'd have been round at the Brown's in flash.)
Three cheers Iain for this post. There is a difference between disagreeing with someone and hating them- I hope Brown and his wife can get through this and that as one other poster said is possible their kid can have a happy and fulfilled life.
Comments on subjects like this start off well, with the appropriate expressions of sympathy etc, and then the barbed remarks start. Get a life crossfire - and stop trying to sound more clever than you are. To use a popular description: whaaaat a tosser.
Odd this news is released NOW and not way back in July when first diagnosed... Smith Institute investigation have anything to do with it..?
Gordon Brown is a human being, flawed like the rest of us. He's been tainted by working as #2 to Blair. But someone had to do it. He has integrity.
Well that seems to have drawn the real issue out then.
Verity - maybe you are right I guess Brown has made a bit of a mess of things with Blair but I can't get away from the fact that he has stood aside once already and I just hope he does the right thing.
Sad News - I missed this point earlier . He doesn't have 2 children sadly one of them died - Have you any idea what this does to a parent ? I can well understand how shattered Mr Brown must be.
Put political differences aside? How about national differences?
Gordon's child was only diagnosed early because he insisted his pregnant wife travelled to Scotland so the child was born Scottish. The Scottish NHS test every newborn for this disease. Gordon Brown provides the Scottish NHS with the highest funding so that it can.
So will he now provide the funding for the English NHS to test all newborn English babies? Why aren't our children allowed to be diagnosed this early?
Why should we be silent over our own babies lives, just to prove how PC sympathetic we can be for this man who considers English babies to worth less than Scottish babies?
Aren't we all supposed to be equal in Britain? Who dares to ask when our children will treated equally to his children????? Our politicians might as well be hatstands for all the use they are!
Y'all are some cold-hearted muthas.
So, according to Guido, an investigation has begun into the Smith Institution and an illegal slush fund that Gordo's been using to finance some helper or other. The whole story's over on Guido's.
Brown's boy was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis last July - about six months ago. Funny that they just got around to mentioning it on the day the Smith Institute investigation began, hein?
So those of us - around two or three out of all you gullible naifs, including you, Iain - who were unmoved and smelled a rat were right. Gordon Brown is a sleazebag, as I wrote above, consumed by ambition, who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.
If his kid really does have cystic fibrosis - and I am not convinced - I think it must be a mild, non-threatening, very treatable version of it. They were looking around for something to bury the very bad news about the Smith Institute and someone said, "Hey, wasn't Brown's kid diagnosed with something a few months back? We could go with that."
To those of you who thought he would shelve his overweening ambition to be the most powerful man in Britain to somehow stay home with his child (and do what?) how could you, given what you know of Gordon Brown and thhis deeply corrupt administration, be so naive?
His wife, BTW, was a business partner of that awful Hobsbawm woman. She is a dyed in the wool commie.
Dianafication is a slippery slope.
Well, I am sure I was not alone amongst those who think Mr Brown has done a great deal of harm and who recognise that he has no sympathy for anything much that we believe in, and will make every effort further to undermine our values and interests if ever he unfortunately become PM, in being:(a) shocked when I heard the news, because that is the natural human emotion when one hears of misfortune and (b) however unworthily, glad that it was not someone whom I was more in sympathy with. Don't tell me that any socialist would not feel the same if something like this had happened to Mrs Thatcher when she was in office.
In this case, I even wondered whether anyone would say that perhaps the man is genetically flawed, as well as psychologically. But decided that that is only the sort of thing one could think to oneself (or post anonymously in a place where the man himself would never read it).
However, sadly, it is probably no reason in itself why he should not be PM. On that, we can but hope.
If a man has two genetic flaws,as in the sad death of their baby girl - and actually, even I felt sad when this little thing who had fought to be alive for 10 days died - and now this kid with another one, you've got to wonder where this genetic flaw came from. Two out of three is not a good record.
The little flaxen haired boy seems to be thriving, though, which is good news.
Anonymous 3:46 - Gordon Brown has had one child who lived for 10 days (God rest her soul!) - and this would have been with the best, priority, efforts of the NHS - who died.
There is a little flaxen headed boy, who looks hale and hearty, and then another child who has a birth defect.
It is important that these things be scrutinised. Two out of three Brown children are/were not normal. Sixty-six percent. Would you buy a car on the basis that it was sixty per cent subject to faults?
I realise that this post is harsh, and I apologise to readers who are offended, but this is what wants to be our prime minister.
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