Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Children and Props

This is a charming photo issued by Number Ten in April 2007. It really is. It made even a wizened old sceptic like me feel warm towards the PM and his family. Had he not mentioned the phrase yesterday, I would never have thought he was using his children as 'props'...

Just like any other group of people, politicians are proud of their kids. And why the hell not? I can't understand the mindset which says that they must be kept hidden away. Protected yes, hidden no. A politician's family is part of what makes them tick. It's not possible to totally separate private and public, and to pretend you can is clearly ridiculous. Brown is right that kids don't choose to be part of a public media-driven circus, but by sending out photos like this, he is acknowledging that even he has to bow to the inevitable. It's just a shame that 18 months later he seems to forget doing it.


Colin said...

I'm sure he didn't forget it, he probably just thought we had.

I'm sure brown, at home and out of the spotlight is a decent guy, I really am willing to believe that.

That said, his public, political persona suggests that he's a ruthless, calculating political cynic. I've just watched the clip of Adam Boulton's interview with him this morning. Why didn't Marr take him to task on his Osborne misquote?

Anonymous said...

I'm showing my age here, and bound to act huge amounts of opprobrium, but I think Sarah Brown is pretty shaggable.. What is she doing with Gordon, when she could be with a real man like me ? Okay, she is built for comfort, rather than speed - but I would prefer that to the emaciated rakes that they try to project as the ideal of womanhood these days..

Newmania said...

Iain if you recall Brown tried to do the touchy feely thing and it was so horrible he gave up. I think all politicians, especially Conservatives, have said "Here I am, I am like you , I have a family I care about ". I have some ancient Conservative Party promotional material with the family and so on. Its always been something Conservatives do more because Conservatism is about particular loyalties like family Labour is about economic atoms and “Brotherhood”.
In David Cameron’s case it is patently true as well .In Brown’s case it is something he did to be electible equally obviously .
You are too kind to the Scottish PM. He has done his utmost to destroy the family with his vicious tax disincentives. No problem, for him. He has been against Selection despite attending about the most selective school in the Western Hemisphere .He plays this seriousness thing for all its worth but his policy Tax Credits has been so blitheringly incompetent its a variety clown show .

You are far far far too kind to him. (You old softy)

Anonymous said...

This posed picture of the then Chancellor and his family would have been taken after the birth of their new child - and like the then PM when Leo was born, was expected to pose his family for a similar formal portrait.
The difference is that when you are in Govt. the public expect this type of picture.

What's different, is that when the leader of the opposition; a politician of less importance, invites the press to spend two weeks with him and his family while he's on holiday papping away at any/every opportunity without restraint, and when informal family pictures are taken, walking out with the pushchair etc. and published, or intimate pictures of him with his child used as an advert for his wife's business, there is a critical difference.
It feels bad, a bit sleazy, and exploitative.

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous, if that were true, you might have a point. Cameron was papped most of the time. He did not invite the press to spend two weeks on holiday with him. I mean, how warped would that be? Some holdiday, eh?

Anonymous said...

Marx & Engels (1847) had it that the family was to be banned. So why in Brown's socialist utopia is he making a big deal about his family?

Brown now wants to extract 2 year olds from the bosom of the family for not-so-subtle 'social indoctrination'.

Anonymous said...

This was not the newspaper spreads to which he was referring.

I took him to be talking as much about Blair, Clinton, Bush, etc as Cameron.

Still, you've managed to put yesterday's laughably infant-school standard tretment of the speech behind you.

If he'd wanted to draw a big contrast between himself and Cameron, he might have mentioned his lack of personal contact with illegal drugs.

Anonymous said...

***If he'd wanted to draw a big contrast between himself and Cameron, he might have mentioned his lack of personal contact with illegal drugs.***

Or point out Cameron's total lack of experience when it comes to fucking up the nation's pensions.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 2.37 - Cameron did NOT invite the press to his two week holiday, he only allowed them to snap him en famille in Cornwall.

They were expressly forbidden to "pap" him on the yacht.

Anonymous said...

There were plenty of contrasts drawn - was it Osborne's £1bn tax cut for the wealthiest 3000 that made Iain switch over to Steve Wright's factoids?

Anonymous said...

It is one thing to share a family photo on an occasional basis, for example to close a chapter on a tragic loss of a previous child, and quite another to use them, and also huskies, and bicycles as props.

Quite different. Though when I heard the line I must admit I remembered this very photo and presumed that Tory Bloggers would use it to excuse their man from his PR fuck ups.

Some involving his family.

Anonymous said...

Iain Dale said...
"Anonymous, if that were true, you might have a point. Cameron was papped most of the time. He did not invite the press to spend two weeks on holiday with him. I mean, how warped would that be? Some holdiday, eh?"

Ian. I understood that he allowed the press free access to his holiday at home, conditional on that his second holiday spent abroad was private.

And btw. That portrait of the Brown's taken in April 2007. How many pictures of family Brown have been published since then, and how many Cameron ones?
Do you want to get CCHQ to check the archives and prove me wrong?

Anonymous said...

Sorry. I meant 'Iain' of course. Typo.

Anonymous said...

Dear Iain

I see you have been on this comments strand since some old Tory (new Tory, same old Tory) sexist perve started perving here. Do you think you could perhaps remove it?

Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

***That portrait of the Brown's taken in April 2007. How many pictures of family Brown have been published since then, and how many Cameron ones?***

So it's OK to use your children as a political prop once but not twice? It's clearly a point of principle for you.

Anonymous said...

A "prop" is not a single photo published to celebrate a new arrival at No.10. If it were, then all photos would be banned.

In contrast, a family photo becomes a "prop" when it is used repeatedly to push an image. Rather likme the Bullingdon Club photo that Cameron disliked so much as it was used as a "prop" to beat him with.

You're struggling Z.

Anonymous said...

I have already made this on Mr. G. Fawkes blog but I feel it is worth making the point here also:-

I went to see a surgeon this morning and he said "Look I'm not very good as a surgeon but I've brought my wife along whose got big Knockers and is better at speaking than me but she'll tell you what a nice bloke I am"
I said "Ah! well that's all right then

Remind you of someone?

Anonymous said...

Find a picture of Brown in hospital with his son and then you can accuse him of using them as props. If you cannot, shut up and tell Cameron to stop going on about spending nights in the hospital with his son.

Anonymous said...


If that's such a high standard of observation that it crosses the spectrum all the way here, then I'm off.

Been fun, great site.

Anonymous said...

The point I'm trying to make is - how many informal family pics has Brown allowed to be taken and published since the original required family portrait.
I think none.
Obviously I'm not being clear enough.

Anonymous said...

rex, believe me, it wasn't worth repeating.

Anonymous said...

Your facts are wrong here.

This picture was taken in July,2006 and sent as a Card to people who had written to the Browns to congratulate them on the birth of their second son, Frasier - the baby in the picture.

There was a fuss at the time when it was printed in the papers and I understand Number 10 complained to any paper that reprints it as they did when the Mail published the story in 2007.

Which rather shows this picture is the exception which proves the rule - that the Browns made every effort to stop the picture of their kids being published, and don't deserve the cynical tone of your post

Anonymous said...

Looks to me like the family snap that most families would put on a Christmas Card to their relations/friends which is totally different to using your "children as a prop "like for instance one John Selwyn Gummer forcing his reluctant daughter to swallow a beefburger to show that it was totally safe from "Mad Cow Disease"


I am NOT a Labour Supporter nor do I much like Brown but this is one time that I'm prepared to give him a plus point if he holds to it(although NOT I'm afraid my vote !)

Anonymous said...

***There were plenty of contrasts drawn - was it Osborne's £1bn tax cut for the wealthiest ***

Yes, by financing cutting the standard tax rate by removing the 10p rate Brown really distanced himself from Osborne cutting inheritance tax.

Ed said...

Am I to assume that if Mr Brown entertains foreign dignatories, business leaders, journalists, bloggers and generally the great and the good at Chequers or Number 10, then he hides his children away from their eyes for fear of his children being seen as props?

The main reason that Mr Brown has raised this in this way is to take cheap potshots at David Cameron and Tony Blair.

Anonymous said...

The photograph was used in the Mail article (no author that I can see) which in turn was an interview at his home, which in turn brought in his family and was plugging his book on courage which in turn was plugging his leadership bid and which in turn was being publicised by the same article.

And Brown has the nerve to accuse others about using their children as props?

It was a crude nasty remark followed up by misquoting and misrepresenting Osborne (Guido has a video of Brown squirming in an interview today by Boulton). The Tories really should not mess about with Brown - his lies dererve to be exposed. they should do all they can to get whatewver credit they can for removing him.

Anonymous said...

And this one?

Or this one?

or perhaps this one?

Blackacre said...

Brown has many failings but exploiting his children is not one of them. Sarah is fair game as she is an adult and has to some extent put herself in the glare, especially after the intro yesterday. She also strikes me as being sensible and balanced which must be a good prop (in its propping up sense) for the PM. This picture was a one-off I think to celebrate the birth of his child issued to reflect public interest in the birth. I am not aware of it having been repeated or of him using his children at all since in comments or photo opps.

Anonymous said...

That picture was published just as Brown was running for party leadership - no coincidence?

He does not use them as props, unless he wants / needs to. How nice to see his wife introduce him yesterday. Was she the only one that had something nice to say to welcome him on stage?

Anonymous said...

Gordon knows no shame! I cannot believe people are taken in by the guff he spouts.

It is Lie after Lie with Brown!

Anonymous said...

Apologies if anyone took offence or didn't consider it worthy but I found the whole saga of Browns wife coming on stage looking like a ......, I had better not say it as it might offend the PC brigade, totally crass.
He was prepared to parade his wife on stage and then made comments about his children which was clearly to make Cameron look bad.
Well I don't care if he or Cameron issue pictures of their family as I don't want to look at them anyway. What I do care about is a PM who is so inept that he has to stoop this low to try and gain points.
I wanted to hear policies for the future to get us out of this mess and clearly he didn't have any.
All we get is the same old rhetoric but does he tell us about the sale of our gold at the lowest price, the millions he robbed from pension funds, the 10p tax saga..... NO! Oh and its also OK to tell lies regarding Osbourne is it?

I'm beginning to believe that my analogy was a bit soft on him.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that ConHome are running a thread on this. The feeling, to the more objective poster is that yes, Cameron does use his wife and children as part of his strategy (webcameron) and they are an integral part of the Cameron brand, and we all recognise that. A perfect sum up, and if there's a winning side on this debate, Brown's on it.

I also found this report there:

“US hedge fund gives Tories £40k to fight Welsh marginal held by Labour”

Hedge fund? Another case of Tory iffyness, and being on the wrong side - again.

Anonymous said...

Can't see how she was an asset. She looked like a badly dressed beached Whale.

The value was purely novelty.

Catosays said...

Well, if we're talking about props here, how many times do we have to hear the saga of Brown's eye?

Jess The Dog said...

He'll be a lot happier when he chucks it all in and picks up a cushy job with the World Bank or a economics professorship somewhere. So will we.

Anonymous said...

I made a point of watching the speech and I have to be fair and say it was very good. I'm not over keen on Brown but as I have said before I wouldn't wish him any harm. Time will tell wether he has done enough but credit where credit is due.
My prediction of the next election taking place amongst rising unemployment and house prices in freefall is looking pretty accurate I'm sad to say.
freedom to prosper

Anonymous said...

rex - oddly enough, your analogy reminds me of Tony Benn... He uses a similar metaphor, whereby a retiring dentist brings in his son, who has not trained as a dentist, to take over in giving you your 'drill and fill'..

He uses this as a way of emphasising the problems with the hereditary principle.. That said, I'm rather a fan of the House of Lords...

Anonymous said...

The media and the blogosphere have, quite rightly, largely left Sarah alone so far, as she hasn't pushed herself into the limelight or been a highly political spouse like the egregious Cherie.

But not any more - by spinning NuLab's "achievements" (sic) at Conference and becoming the warm-up act for the Comrade Chairman, she has consciously taken the decision to enter into the political fray. She is therefore now fair game, and can no longer plead privacy in response to scrutiny of anything she says or does.

I hope the media will start by dissecting her career in public relations, and make the obvious connection between the PR / spin trade (I can't bring myself to dignify it by calling it a profession) and the prosetelysing deceit that socialism is.

Unknown said...


Brown didn't become PM until June 2007, so was this issued by Number 10?

have to say I think a publicity shot with the family - surely every MP has one whether for Christmas cards or whatever - is of a different order to inviting hacks into your home to watch you have breakfast with your kids, and talk about your role as a father as Cameron has done. Just my two pence.

Twig said...

To be fair, Gordon wasn't the only one to forget.
The BBC with it's £3.5bn budget also forgot?

Unless I missed it on the Ten O'Clock News.