Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rumours about Gordon Brown's health

fuelled by unproven claim on blog.

When I first heard about this story I didn't think much about it. Britain is now in full election mode and these type of stories are bound to crop up on both sides. But something struck me about this Guardian report.

"Marr said he had spoken to the programme editor about the issue beforehand, but nobody higher up the BBC chain of command. A spokesman for the corporation, however, appeared to back the presenter. "Andrew was asking a legitimate question about the health of the leader of the country." The questioning was, the BBC said, within its guidelines.

However, the interview sparked consternation from leading figures at the Labour party conference, led by Lord Mandelson, who told GMTV the rumours were "absolutely ridiculous".

"We have seen out there on the internet, the blogosphere, all these extreme rightwing people trying to put these smears and rumours about, all completely groundless," he said.

Lord Kinnock, the former party leader, joined the chorus from the Labour ranks. Voicing his anger at "poking and prying" questions, Kinnock told Five News: "I abominate them. The BBC is one of the greatest institutions in the world. They demeaned themselves, they cheapened themselves and the judgment of the journalist who asked the question has to be questioned."

Kinnock later said: "People in the BBC know that I am amongst their greatest supporters, an advocate of sustained funding because I think they are incomparably the best broadcasting institution on the planet. The sense of disgust I felt means that I feel desperately let down by a BBC that is becoming red top."

Charles Clarke, the former home secretary, who has been one of Brown's fiercest critics, added: "I think this stuff is quite wrong and I think Andrew Marr was wrong to raise the question in the way he did. I support Gordon in saying his health is not a political issue and he is healthy enough to be prime minister."

Wow! I was gobsmacked when I read that. Not one of these Labour bigwigs denied the underlying claim here that Brown is on anti-depressants. The BBC, a big Labour supporter, backs up their man for asking the question and therefore must think there is some fire in this smoke.

Mandelson blames "these extreme right wing people", forgetting the BBC is far left, but doesn't refute the claim.

Likewise Kinnock doesn't refute it but is simply angry the question was asked and I guess by "red top" he means the BBC is far right, or something.

Clarke's response is possibly the most puzzling when he says he was angry that Marr "raise the question in the way he did". What does that mean? The question is legitimate but the venue was wrong? And what does Clarke mean by this: "...he is healthy enough to be prime minister...". He's "healthy enough" but not fully healthy?

Clarke is wrong when he says Brown's health is not a political issue. If the leader of Britain is on anti-depressants, as these reports indicate, then it becomes the most important political issue.

The next few weeks will tell if this story has legs.

Update. The Telegraph has more. They have a fuller quote by Mandelson.

"But to jump from that to say that he has got some sort of dependency or addiction is absolutely ridiculous. Frankly, the only surprising thing about all this is that the BBC of all people should choose to give it credibility."

So, saying it is ridiculous, but that's not the same as saying it is absolutely not true. Also the inference seems to be that Brown is taking anti-depressants and not that Brown is suffering "dependency or addiction". That's not the same thing.

The question is, is Brown being prescribed anti-depressants or pain killers? That is a legitimate question.

Update. Cameron’s Drug Question Double Standards

It never ceases to amaze me how hypocritcal the left are.

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