Insights from the UK and beyond
Playing the blame game
President Barack Obama had barely settled into in the White House before he was happy to admit he had “screwed up” over one of his choices for a cabinet job after Tom Daschle withdraw his nomination as health secretary over an income tax controversy.
Even Britain’s leading bankers were moved to apologise to parliament last month over the sector’s indiscretions in the boom years.
But sorry is clearly not a word in Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s political lexicon, even though he was Chancellor for 10 years and arguably his “light touch” approach to the economy created the environment for the current economic mess we are in.
Brown is happy to talk of the need for humility, but that’s as far as he will go. He reminds you of a cyclist caught doping, endlessly pleading their innocence, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Whether Brown believes an act of contrition is simply unnecessary as he has done nothing wrong or that to say the word “sorry” would provide the opposition Conservatives with a stick to beat him mercilessly ahead of a general election is unclear.
Commentator Jonathan Freedland in Wednesday’s Guardian makes the case that until Brown admits some degree of culpability for Britain’s economic woes the Labour Party will not get a hearing at the next election.
Why are politicians so loath to say sorry? And could Brown revive his electoral hopes if he does accept fault for Britain’s economic crisis?