Simon Carr: Why sorry is the hardest word for Gordon

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The Independent Online

Poor old Gordon, it's because he hasn't got any manners. He could have shut this down at the beginning of the week with a little human expertise. But he thinks – and who can blame him? – that there are more important things going on, and he should be seen to be up there saving the world, not down here scragging in the media playground.

At any rate he said he was sorry. But as ever, he didn't sound it. It was dragged out of him through his teeth (nearly taking a molar with it). His dessicated ministerial clichés were sent into action. He very nearly said he would do "whatever it takes" to clean up the role of special advisers. And (after Tony Blair) that he took full responsibility (so resign!).

He should have said (how easy it is for us on the sidelines to say these things): "I shall be making a statement in the Commons on Monday morning." And carry on with his world-saving while the suspense increased.

What a triumph he might have made. He could have addressed the packed, expectant House in his lovely rolling rumble. These things are beyond politics, he might have said. Private lives are sacrosanct. Such smears caused distress beyond what politicians were expected to bear in the normal course of things. That it played into the hands of the anti-politics class. He'd dwell on it, and unpack the indignation, not try and move briskly on.

Damian McBride, of course, would have been surprised by this because he has spent his professional life "working towards the Fuhrer".

But Gordon doing heartfelt generosity could have made the Tories look shrill, pious, and perhaps a little calculating. Manners are, after all, the art of making other people feel uncomfortable.