I must confess to being startled when I first heard that Gordon Brown and David Cameron had felt it necessary to apologise for visiting the Field of Remembrance on Armistice Day. What exactly has either man done that is wrong?
It all seems to boil down to the fact that a) they didn't ask prior permission of the Westminster Abbey authorities (although David Cameron said this morning on the Andrew Marr show that he had, but only on the day at the last minute) and that b) they both used it as a 'photo opportunity'.
I don't wish to be rude (be honest, you do - Ed.), but I really do think the Westminster Abbey authorities need to get over themselves! The Church of England is the 'established' Church and by virtue of that status receives a lot of benefits, both material and in terms of the influence it wields (and that's the right word in this context!), far beyond what its current levels of membership nationally justify. Like all churches (as charities), it receives significant tax breaks. As for the photographers, well I think there may be a slight case to answer, but only a minor one. Does anyone really think it is credible that either Brown or Cameron coould have carried out a low-profile visit to such a nationally-symbolic spot, specially if they had already arranged it as a major feature with the Westminster Abbey authorities?
It is really sad to me that this non-story has been talked-up by the Westminster Abbey authorities, naturally enough gleefully taken up by the ever-hungry 24-hour media machine. Brown and Cameron have obviously been left with no choice but to apologise, because it would be political madness for either man to do anything else, given the media-driven and changing (i.e. fickle and easily-manipulated) public opinion that we all have to live with. However in my view neither man had anything to apoligise for - I'd have been far more upset if they had simply toddled off and not bothered to visit the Field of Remembrance.
PS/ It perhaps needs to be said that if this so-called 'gaffe' had been made by Gordon Brown alone and not by David Cameron as well, I would still have formed the view of the kerfuffle that I have; I don't care for Brown at all (that's no secret), but fair is fair.