"If you are away for a week, you notice how your children change and you have got to re-win their interest. It's important you understand you have got to spend time with your children."
This is the Prime Minister's speech defect. It's the product of the way he thinks. He doesn't say: "You've got to spend time with your children." He doesn't even say the less conclusive: "It's important to spend time with your children."
No, Gordon Brown says something in three stages with a complex get-out in the middle. The assertion is that "it's important you understand" the spending-time-with-children thing. But that doesn't mean you're going to spend time with children. While it's important to understand you have got to spend time with a child, there are always important reasons for spending important time doing more important things than learning the alphabet.
And indeed, for those of us who worry the country will disintegrate while the PM is spending time with his children, he also reassures us: "My attention is focused on what I can do for the country. I will not be diverted."
Jings! To be fair, I'm sure Gordon is looking forward to spending time with his children, especially at the age they are. But having said that, there must be a sit-com in here, don't you think?
A devoted politician operates on his family as though they were a constituency. His remark about having "to re-win their interest" is a jewel. The PM has become so single minded in his efforts to "re-win the interest" of British voters that he can't think private, paternal thoughts without framing them in political language.
I'm not good with comedy – as you know – but the joke would be to apply the managerial manner we witness in public life to his domestic circumstances.
He came up with a cracker the other day: "There must be a significant deviation from business-as-usual in the medium term." Something to do with climate change. The children would react to that in a characteristic way, I feel. Much the same as we do.
But also, how he uses language to feed on the energy of our discontents and seems to go along with what we want until the moment when he does what he was going to do all along. Thus, a decision about where to go on holiday will be taken in full consultation with all family members regardless of gender or age considerations, but they won't end up going to Barbados as everybody wants. They'll be off to the Lake District to help the Britishness agenda.
I think the mother would have to be another political leader, and we'd need three children to represent the electorate. There'd be dividing lines, and ways of setting two of the children on the third in order that the parents get some secret objective of their own.
It's not really my area, but it has potential. We can at least be certain of this: "I think people are very clear that we've got a task ahead."Reuse content