Why should Brown and Cameron apologise for being seen to pay tribute to the war dead?
Posted on 22 November 2009 | 11:11am
Having taken a potshot at David Cameron for hiring a personal photographer, I suppose I ought to be pleased that this has landed him in a spot of bother.
But I’m afraid I cannot get wound up over the complaint by Westminster Abbey that Cameron and Gordon Brown had their pictures taken without permission in the Field of Remembrance on Armistice Day.
That this is a prominent story on the news this morning, complete with apologies from Downing Street and Mr Cameron himself, merely underlines the extent to which an anti-politics and anti-politician mood has taken hold.
Anyone who cares to take a whack at the politicians – in this case someone at the Abbey – will get a ready and supportive audience in large parts of the media. If they can weigh in with the charge that they are indulging in ‘a photo opportunity’, even better.
Gordon Brown is the Prime Minister at a time UK forces are engaged in war. David Cameron is the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. Far from being asked to apologise, I think they are entitled to say it is entirely appropriate that they should make such visits and pay such tributes at this time of year. It is also appropriate that the public get to know about it.
And given the various parliamentary and other events to commemorate the World Wars, notably the Cenotaph ceremony, and the extent to which the issue of Afghanistan has dominated public debate of late, neither man is really in need of the additional coverage their visits to pay tribute may have yielded.
In fact there has been more coverage of them this morning already, as part of the ‘apology story’, than there was at the time. How long before it becomes ‘Poppygate’?
On the polls, and particularly the one showing the Tory lead cut to six points, they merely underline what I have been saying here for months – the Tories are not home and dry. If Labour get their act together properly – on defending the record, taking the attack to the Tories and winning arguments about the policy agenda for the future – the game is still on.
Because whilst lots of people may cite lots of reasons for not wanting another Labour term, there is no great enthusiasm for the Tories.
There is also a growing fear that beneath the surface of Cameron’s presentational skills, (without doubt better than Michael Howard’s and Iain Duncan Smith’s) his Party is fundamentally unchanged. Right-wing, out of touch with the way most people live, run by an elite, and ready to run the country for an elite.