It’s one of the first things we tell people in media training whenever we’re asked to do it – it doesn’t matter how well you know the hack, it doesn’t matter how quiet you think you can do it, it doesn’t matter how flippant your remark might be, the open mic of the news media is guaranteed to pick it up.
So to see such a huge cock up today, from a seasoned political operator, clinging to power desperate to stop his party not just losing power, but losing the right to form the official opposition was stunning. To call a voter you’ve just patted on the back a bigot for asking questions (which incidentally weren’t in my opinion bigoted at all – just concerned) is naive beyond belief.
Of course, behind a closed fader or a slammed phone or door, we’ve all said what’s on our minds – “tosser” is my favourite insult to hurl – but in the middle of an election, to someone that you’d probably just won around to your side again, an easy win – jesus. Brown was right, it was a disaster!
In between the chuckles and gawping at the slow-motion car crash that unfolded all afternoon, Brown made his appearance in a radio studio and looked like a broken man, head practically on the table, perhaps the funniest part of that interview wasn’t shown much after the initial live encounter: when challenged on losing the election, he chucked his head and arms back and rolled his eyes so hard he looked like he might damage himself. It was a tragic display from a broken man, and a broken party – there was no defence from Mandelson, Prescott or any of the others in the cabal: then the squatting in the poor old dear’s house until an awkward apology was no doubt extracted… it was just a car crash.
As a communications specialist I think this will be an important nail in the coffin of the Labour campaign: I don’t think it’s the stake through the heart that certain commentators are predicting it’s going to be – but I do think that Brown’s now a wounded animal, and that’ll be a dangerous game for both Cameron and Clegg to play with. CCHQ have been remarkably restrained all day, LDHQ slightly less so – but it shouldn’t be forgotten that wounded animal’s lash out – sometimes fatally – so it’ll be interesting to see how they both handle him.