Richard Ingrams' Week: Who are these New Men trying to kid?

Share

Questioned on the Today programme about how he would hope to measure up to the much more youthful David Cameron, Gordon Brown boasted that he was the proud father of a two-year-old son and that only the night before he had been sitting up with him at 4am.

We are supposed to be impressed by this. The message is not only that Brown is youthful and energetic but that he is a New Man who plays his part in looking after the baby.

Those who are impressed will not include me. I do not want the Chancellor of the Exchequer being woken up at 4am to change nappies. I want him to be sure of getting his eight hours sleep so that in the morning he will be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and all the better to grapple with the nation's economic destiny.

This baby-boasting is a sign of the sentimentality which nowadays governs our view of politicians.

In the same sort of way, much has been made of the fact that David Cameron is the father of a disabled child, as though this in some way makes him better qualified to lead the modern, compassionate Conservative Party.

But having a disabled child might have the opposite effect. It imposes great strain on a married couple, even those like the Camerons who can afford to employ others to care for the child's needs.

Parents of disabled children are notoriously prone to marriage break-ups and divorce as the difficulties tend to grow greater as the child grows older.

Of course, the Camerons may be among the lucky ones who manage to come through. But anyone who thinks that they derive some kind of benefit from their situation is not living in the real world.

Morgan avoids his share of the blame

It is hard not to feel a little bit sorry for the Daily Mirror's two City Slickers James Hipwell and Anil Bhoyrul, both of whom face the possibility of a prison sentence for conspiring to manipulate the stock market for their own gain. Because it does look as though they have been used as scapegoats for offences that were condoned by the Mirror editor Piers Morgan.

What they were doing over a long period was to tip shares that they themselves had previously bought, thus making a substantial killing.

In his evidence, Hipwell claimed that his editor Morgan knew exactly what he and Bhoyrul were up to and that he even encouraged them to trade on the stock market.

Morgan, however, who was not called to give evidence, denies this, which is just as well as, if it were true, it might make him liable for prosecution. He might also have been asked once again how it was that he purchased several thousand shares in a company called Viglen the day before the Slickers' tip was published, thus causing a dramatic increase in the share price.

Morgan's bosses appear to accept that nothing improper had occurred and we were left with the conclusion that his purchase of the shares on that particular day was nothing more than a happy coincidence. At any rate, he continued in his post and was dismissed only after publishing some faked pictures of British troops supposedly engaged in torture in Iraq.

Since then Morgan has prospered as a best-selling author, a TV personality and now a magazine proprietor. Languishing in their prison cells, the Slickers could be excused for thinking that there's no justice in the world.

* The reason for not allowing evidence gained by torture has nothing to do with ethics and morality as some people seem to think.

The reason is that any evidence so obtained is likely to be false and unreliable. This seems perfectly obvious but you don't hear anyone saying as much.

Nor do many of our pious pontificators like to point out that there is a strong element of humbug about their pronouncements. To listen to the likes of Jack Straw you would think that torturing people was a barbaric practice engaged in only by the world's most backward regimes and possibly - and very regretfully - by the US under the new name of "rendition".

But you don't have to go back very far to find us civilised British engaging in torture in order to elicit information about terrorists. To take only one example: the six men arrested for the Birmingham pub bombing in November 1974 were all subjected to beatings by police and prison officers. As a result two of them subsequently confessed to being responsible for the bombing. When they came to court their evidence of police brutality was dismissed by the judge.

Yet events proved once again that when subjected to this kind of treatment men are capable of confessing to anything if only to bring their ordeal to an end.

It is also worth bearing in mind that this went on not in Afghanistan or Iraq but in our supposedly civilised city of Birmingham - a fact that should make everyone think twice before being holier than thou about the Americans.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ice skating in George Square, Glasgow  

How many Christmas cards have you sent this year?

Simon Kelner
 

Al-Sweady Inquiry: An exercise in greed that blights the lives of brave soldiers

Richard Kemp
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser