Or is this now a lose-lose situation for the PM?
Writing in the News of the World, former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey has called for Brown to say “sorry” – is there now going to become a growing clamour for the Prime Minister to say the s-word?
He says: “…it would be a refreshing, and much overdue, acknowledgement of some responsibility for the state we are in…” and points to the example of Obama as a case where admitting failure may not be a kiss of political death. Carey goes on: “The sign of a confident, great man is the willingness to acknowledge failure… I believe he would bounce back the stronger for a willingness to admit to the inadvertent errors of the past.”
However, comparing Brown to Obama may not be helpful, as the latter is a new leader with his own mandate – and Brown could now be in a lose-lose situation on saying sorry, damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. If he does apologise he will be seen to have been forced into it by Cameron’s apology, and if he doesn’t, the issue could dog him all the way to the election with people asking him why he won’t apologise.
Cameron’s apology may thus come to be seen as an act of supreme political shrewdness – Matthew D’Ancona in the Telegraph describes his speech as a strategic move that “transformed our expectations” of him, comparing it to Keith Joseph’s attacks on the post-war economic consensus in 1974:
“In Birmingham on Friday, the man who will probably be prime minister in little more than a year disowned the [recent] consensus, apologised for his part in it, and urged the voters to brace themselves for tough decisions. By saying sorry, he wiped the slate clean. And in politics, there is nothing more thrilling, or more alarming, than a newly-cleaned slate.”
So, which way foward for Gordon now on this issue? My hunch is that an apology will not be forthcoming – and even if there was one, would it help him at all?
Elsewhere in the Sundays:
Andrew Rawnsley – Cameron needs more than a clique of four
Observer – Germany and France reject Brown’s recovery plan
Mail – Baby P boss in Â£1m sex bias claim as we reveal explosive report
Telegraph – Pope to visit Britain