I’ve never been Gordon Brown’s greatest fan – I doubt he has one – and there are many in the country and Labour party who would agree with me, but I’ve always held an admiration for a politician who clearly got into politics for what I’d describe as the right reasons.
That’s something that’s not always clear of all politicians, and it doesn’t seem a given these days, following Tony Blair – a man who seemed to be running an office rather than a country and who seemed more driven by the need to do a thorough job, rather than ideology.
I’m as aware of Brown’s failings and foibles as anyone, but for the most part I don’t care. This man was running a country; he wasn’t a vicar.
Brown was awkward, said many. He never smiled, and when he did he looked funny. He was sometimes rude to people, he was dictatorial and insecure. So what?
Brown found himself on the receiving end of far more vicious treatment that even Neil Kinnock. Every day people were told to ridicule, fear and despise Gordon Brown.
And so people came to ridicule, fear and despise him. Not because of the housing bubble than he arguably helped create, silly ideas like ID cards or flawed experiments like PFI.
No, people came to despise Brown because he didn’t look right. He was weak, they said, as if that means anything, He was ‘clinging to power’ – another baffling accusation at a sitting Prime Minister.
I suspect, if you were to ask people, they would be unable to tell you why they hated Brown so much. I doubt they know.
People seem to have been astonished to see a human being – clearly emotional – delivering a final, humble speech as PM with his wife and children.
Where was the stupid, lumbering bad-tempered brute? The power-hungry bully, intent on squatting in Number 10? The ‘one-eyed Scottish idiot’?
There, instead, was a man with quiet dignity, who spoke of his pride at serving his country and his dislike of the ceremony and prestige that went with it.
Gordon Brown’s main problem was to have been a Prime Minister in an age where society – spurred on by a hyperbolic media – cannot forgive human flaws in its PM.
I think, and I hope, history will be kinder to him.