Getting to eat lunch at home for a change I see the
headlines are full of Gordon Brown’s nightmare moment here .
Clearly there is no defence for his remarks, though one imagines
that many party leaders let off steam behind closed doors and there was a moment
the other day when Nick Clegg was fairly grumpy about a voter; Brown’s error was
not just being grumpy but making offensive remarks. Then when doing a radio interview
he appeared to dig himself further in.
Behind this lie some bigger questions:
- What price integrity? Our obsession with personality
can obscure the more important principle of integrity. What matters is not the public
face but the integration of public and private persona, which is very hard for
most voters to assess.
- Ethical judgment. Character is not simply about being
the same in public and private, it is also about making judgment calls that are
a consistent outworking of ethical values.
Openness. Trust requires people to believe you
are person of integrity, good character and openness. This election campaign is
currently an exercise in avoiding the financial element in the room; so far
none of the party leaders has a good score here. Nevertheless we may just have seen Gordon Brown toasted.