Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Not All Apologies Are Equal

When someone is wrong, the way they react says a lot about their character. Let's compare Tory PM David Cameron with Labour's Gordon Brown.

Cameron, as leader of the opposition at the time, employed a man, Andy Coulson, who had lost his job at News International following revelations of phone hacking. Cameron asked him whether he had any knowledge of phone "hacking", and Coulson assured him he didn't. Cameron took the view he should give the guy a second chance. He went on the be a very well respected communication director for the leader of the opposition, and then in government when Cameron won the election. There's no suggestion of wrong doing while working for Cameron at all.

Now it transpires Coulson was lying about knowing about phone "hacking" the PM has issued a full and comprehensive apology for his judgement in making that decision...

Compare this with Gordon Brown's apology when, a man working for him (Damian McBride), was caught making up lies to smear Brown's political opponents (including against David Cameron's wife, Samantha). Remember McBride was working for Brown at the time. His wrong-doing was related to the duties of the position (spin doctor) he held under his boss, Gordon Brown. Brown denied knowing anything about it. But the culture of poisonous spin aimed at undermining opponents (in and out of the Labour party) was well established by then. So, believe him if you will.

He sets out attempting to apologise but in the end, he utters the now infamous phrase "I take full responsibility for what happens. That's why the person responsible went immediately".

You can judge for yourselves whether Cameron needed to apologise for employing Coulson. At worst it was bad judgement. Brown's non-apology is more stark. This was someone he employed to attack and undermine opponents. When he was caught going too far, Brown's apology amounts to very little other than, he did something wrong, so I acted and got rid of him - aren't I great!