Thursday, April 16, 2009

Matthew Parris has a tale for Gordon Brown about saying sorry

In today's Times Matthew Parris tells a great historical tale.
Twenty years ago a political aide working at the heart of the office of the leader of the Conservative Party was exposed as having dispatched a wholly inappropriate communication. It was to a woman who had written complaining to Margaret Thatcher about her council house.

The aide had replied that she should be grateful to have a taxpayer-subsidised house at all. Splashed across the press and coming as it had from the Boss's office, the letter was rude and stupid.

Thatcher knew what to do. “I'm so very sorry” was a headline on the front page of the Daily Mirror on March 30, 1979. She had sent by courier a handwritten apology to the woman. Explaining that she had known nothing of the letter (this was true), she described her own anguish at its contents. “I can only apologise,” she said, and then, again, “I'm so very sorry.” The aide (who was leaving the office anyway) was told that if the media asked, they'd be informed he had been sacked.

Hopefully, Labour printed three million copies of that Mirror page as an election leaflet. But the offended lady's response had helped to kill the story: “I feel the apology is justified and I'm pleased Mrs Thatcher was brave enough to own up,” she said.

That aide was me. I had wanted to defend myself by publishing the woman's first letter, but Margaret Thatcher's reaction was unhesitating.

Say sorry, fast, unconditionally, before anyone asks us to. Then shut up.
Brown did say he admired Thatcher for her conviction, shame she had more than him.


Mark M said...

Mrs Thatcher had more balls than anyone currently sitting in the House of Commons.

The irony of Brown writing a book on courage is, I'm sure, not lost on anyone.

kinglear said...

Courage comes with leadership and belief. Unfortunately, Brown fails on all counts. His only belief is that he hates the Tories.

RobW said...

Nice little story.

Anonymous said...

Although I'm no fan of Thatcher I wrote to her when I heard she was going to charge for prescriptions, the letter I had back was hand written from the lady her self, she stated she understood the difficulty this charge would be for people who had long term disability or sickness, she stated she had decided to drop this, saying it would only harm those who already had a difficult time.

When Blair brought it in I wrote to Blair sending in the letter from Thatcher, the letter I had back came from some nameless moron who said why should tax payers pay for your disability. I wrote back what even if they fought for the country because troops would need to pay this, I had a phone call from the Labour office saying, as a labour party member we suggest you back the Labour party and go get a job.

I think that sums up the two parties, and as I said I did not like Thatcher, she was women enough to answer her critics and when she was wrong she said so. unlike Blair or Brown.

dizzy said...

OPh please tell me you can scan those letters and send them to me?

Kafka said...

Proof once again, if any were needed at all, of Lady T's stature. Brown is a pygmy by comparison.