Simon Carr:

The Sketch: He's forgotten the first rule of leadership: indifference

Share
Related Topics

They have strong stomachs in the lobby. I'm not sure I can go through another one of those press conferences.

"I am a shy person," the Prime Minister said, and more than one of us had to look away. Shy. He's shy. It was still all about the letter. He came in wearing a black tie. He was in mourning. He sounded as though he had a cold but it was just his mourning voice. He mourned all through his opening remarks even though half of them were about "moving away from targets" in the NHS.

The only time he became properly animated was when the subject of David Cameron or the Glasgow by-election came up – then he was recognisably himself.

The letter. He's hand written 200+ of these letters of condolence. Allies say this particular one was redeemed by its sincerity. No, no, no. In The Sun, Ms Janes nailed the particular kind of apology politicians do. "He said sorry 16 times but never apologised once." There were also the words "cumfort" and "cuntry" and her son's first name spelt "Janie".

But the lack of genuine feeling in the letter was evident – whatever feelings he may have had writing it. He wrote of Guardsman Janes and "... the huge contribution he made to the security of our country". The boy made a huge sacrifice. He was part of a huge effort to protect our security. To say he made a huge contribution to national security has no comfort in it because it isn't true.

Gordon kept on saying these things that weren't true. Why? To show he is a man of feeling. "The whole country feels a sense of loss when any soldier is killed or wounded." No, it doesn't. The whole country barely registers it. More people can name the horse wounded in Hyde Park nearly 30 years ago than can name a soldier killed three months ago in Afghanistan. That's an experiment you can try at home. But he wouldn't leave it alone even when he could. One of the hacks asked him about the 72,000 people on the Downing Street site who'd petitioned him to resign. He replied that he was a parent as well. He knew how long it takes to handle grief. "I do feel the pain of people who are grieving."

And, "I have to do my best to comfort the bereaved." But he doesn't. It's a mistake. Worse than a mistake – it's a daft conflation of public and private. It leads, for instance, to a sudden promise to rush 20 new helicopters into service. Is that what drives policy now? Prime ministerial embarrassment?

Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, I think, was asked what the most important quality was for a national premier. He said: "Indifference".

simoncarr@sketch.sc

React Now

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

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

£17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The power of anonymity lies in the freedom it grants

Boyd Tonkin
Tory whips were anxiously ringing round the “usual suspects” following Douglas Carswell's defection to Ukip  

Douglas Carswell’s defection reminds us that it's the Tories who have the most to fear from Ukip

Andrew Grice
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone