So, fresh back after an extended Bank Holiday weekend… There are just a couple of days remaining before we go to the polls and I think that following the leaders debates and all the other calamity to have occurred during Gordon Browns reign as Prime Minister, he stuck the final nail in his own coffin last week with what some people deem dishonesty, I deem lacking the courage of your convictions…
So Gordon Brown was campaigning in Glasgow up in Scotland, and he was introduced to Gillian Duffy, 66, who asked him a few questions and made some comments. Among those things, she also asked about why more was not being done keep Eastern European immigrants out of Britain. In the way he seems so adept at doing, he avoided answering the actual question, offered up some pre-prepared spiel and carried on… Though he forgot to switch off his microphone and everyone heard him, staright afterwards call Gillian Duffy “a bigot”.
When she was told this news, her surprised and startled expression was a picture and made the national news headlines.
Let’s be honest here, shall we? Brown meant what he said, I don’t think anyone doubts that, do they? However, when this error was pointed out to him, rather than sticking to his guns and explaining how he had summised that, or congruently talking us through his comment, he lamely called the entire thing a ‘misundestanding’ and snuck behind closed doors at Mrs Duffy’s home to talk to her about it for three quarters of an hour or so.
Why not publicly say what you feel? I am guessing many people may have wanted to tell Mrs Duffy what he said. Why not wear your heart on your sleeve from time to time? Why this incessant need for bland political correctness and subversive behaviour in an attempt to please everyone all at once… This is the biggest error Gordon Brown could have made and made him look dishonest and lack congruence altogether.
What is wrong with holding your ground?
There was of course much to learn from such an experience, but being congruent is something that surely can influence voters and public perception far more.
I teach my students about the value of congruence in training… Saying, being, and behaving the same as you are thinking… It is all communicated one way or another and it all makes it’s way through to what we see.
Why do politicians think we want to see bland, biege-wearing points of view?
It is the same with lots of famous sports stars… Have you ever seen a Michael Owen interview? “Yeah well, my own performance is not as important as the teams, I am happy we got the three points…” Blah, blah… Yawn-a-rama… What about Ryan Giggs? “Yeah, I am pleased I got this award, but without the team it would not have been possible….”
These are admirable things to say, but what about one of these people saying, “I bloody love whopping United!” or “I am well chuffed I scored a hat-trick because it shows I am doing my job well” ?? Many people thought he was nuts when this happened, but I totally respected Kevin Keegan when this happened:
So what if Gordon Brown says someone is a bigot, what got on my nerves is that he did not stand by his comment and support and discuss that in a congruent fashion… Pah!
Totally agree Adam, as soon as I heard about bigotgate I thought that if Brown plays this right, he’ll win: come out strong, say she was a bigot (because she was) and confront the casual, uninformed racism that poisons us. But no, he bottled it. C’est la vie.
Spot on Nath.
Great hearing from you by the way… It’s been too long buddy 🙂
Yes, but. Gordon was between a rock and a hard place on this one. He’d been doing the whole “let’s go out and listen to what the voters have to say” thing. Now, if he’d just dismissed this woman as a bigot and not gone and listened to what she had to say, he would have not been congruent with his own philosophy of campaigning. And also, the right wing press would have hammered a nail into his coffin. Because a lot of people might think this woman was a bigot. But you can bet your bottom dollar that she’s not the only one who thinks like that.
Yes, people are entitled to their opinions and if you have an opinion about something then standing by that opinion is a good thing. But it can also be a weakness. It can leave you blind to other viewpoints, unable to compromise and unable to move situations forward. I mean, if you just said to a bunch of representatives from Israel and the Arab world: “okay, you don’t like each other. Great. Stand by your opinions and go and aim your weapons at each other again” then the entire Middle East peace protest is dead in the water.
NLP talks of congruence but it also talks about being more flexible in your thinking and Gordon did show a flexibility in his thinking by doing what he did. Also, it was nice to see a politician stop and act along the lines of “you know what, I might have got this one wrong” in terms of handling the situation. Tony Blair is congruent about the nonsense war in Iraq and he had been all the way through the build up to the war and after it. If he was daft enough, as is claimed, to have believed that their actually were weapons of mass destruction there and daft enough to maintain that belief, then we may have been led by a congruent but incredibly daft Prime Minister. And I really don’t see too much respect shown now for Tony outside of the neo con heartlands in the US.
To put it bluntly: “there’s a fine line between being congruent and being respected for that and being an arsehole”. The BNP are pretty congruent in their views and attitudes. Are they respected?
I believe in America they talk about not just the freedom of speech but the responsibility of having freedom of speech.
Hello Marty, I hear you… And agree with all that you say.
I am not suggesting that people lack behavioural flexibility… Not by any means. But I am suggesting that we should all have the courage of our convictions… If we firmly believe something, the we can elegantly and congruently discuss it without just performing an ill-thought out U-turn to attempt to appease the masses.
I am not quoting NLP theories at all by the way, just notions of what appeals to me as a voter… I am no fan of those digging their heels in unnecessarily and I am not advocating that at all. The way you illustrate that is correct – flexibility is necessary to gain more agreement.
But this was not a conflict in the middle East between warring factions and this was not a heavily advocated invasion of a foriegn country based upon a false premise… This was a man refusing to acknowledge what he really thought… He says that he is not a man of ‘style’ as his way of excusing himself in the leaders live debates, yet he went purely for style in rejecting what he said privately.
We all make mistakes, I think he dealt with it bravely and I understand his u-turn… I’d just have liked it if he said, “you know what lady, you got on my tits today… I called you a bigot because that is how I perceive someone with some of those extreme views you have” – he could still make good of the situation, he could still acknowledge that what he said was a mistake…
I would not suggest he does not listen to Mrs Duffy, he can still do that, he could even lessen his stance as a result of listening to her further, but to U-turn just because it was bad PR to have said it at all… I found that lame.
He was congruent in constantly changing his mind, wasting our money and not saying what he thought to a voter, but saying what he really thought in private.
How is that not congruent 😉
Is that not what all politicians do?
Ok Gareth, you win smart arse of the day 😉
I am so proud of my smugness, not….
No one likes a smarty pants….
I still think I was right though….