Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Sunday 22 November 2009

What did they do wrong?

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.


  1. The angle I took was that Cameron slipped in for a photoshoot prior to the main 'walk around' and Brown, hearing of it during the service, insisted the Abbey lay on an independent TV cameraman and photographer immediately after the service. He would normally have joined all others in the walk through but insisted the garden was closed just for him.

    Really they're as bad as each other. All this false grief is despicable and does nothing to raise the credibility of politicians. There's enough grief in the world.

  2. Non-stories drive the real news to the back pages.

  3. James

    Possibly you are correct. Do you have the power of divination to guess at what that 'real news' might be?

  4. Maybe they both should have stayed away from that part of the abbey and left it to veterans and family?
    Seeing politicians at such events makes me feel uneasy although I know they have a right and a duty perhaps to be there.

  5. If they didn't show respect they'd be criticised, having done so they're criticised. Frankly I think this whole story has been concocted by the media to fill in their so-called 'news' slots and the public is so gullible they fall for it almost every time - not that I'm suggesting you're 'suggestible' or 'gullible', Graisg, of course ;)


Welcome to my comment area. Whilst all comment is welcome you are requested to respect the views of others. To read full terms for use of this facility, please visit my 'Terms of Use' section, linked to under the 'About this Blog' heading at top right of the blog. Note added 12JUL2010 - All comments will now be pre-moderated before they appear in this blog; this is a measure to prevent 'spam' commenting, which has become frequent of late. Thank you.