Nothing new under The Sun … or The Daily Mail

May 21, 2010

Many people, including myself, resented the treatment of Gordon Brown in the immediate aftermath of the 2010 general election.

Academics and senior civil servants had made it plain before, during and after the vote that Brown would, by convention, stay in No. 10 until he could recommend to the Queen that someone (possibly himself) could command the confidence of the Commons and be invited to form a government.

Now I’m neither fan nor defender of the UKs arcane convention-based unwritten constitution, particularly its’ involvement with the head of one of the most troubled families ever to have escaped the attention of social workers. But the media treatment of Brown as a squatter in Downing St. was up there with that meted out to Kinnock in 1992.

For example, from The Sun:-
“A MAN aged 59 was squatting in a luxury home near the Houses of Parliament last night.
The squatter, named as a Mr Gordon Brown from Scotland, was refusing to budge from the Georgian townhouse in Downing Street, central London – denying entry to its rightful tenant. “

And from The Daily Mail:-
“From green-eyed Chancellor to the ‘squatter of No10’, Gordon Brown finally admits he can’t hang on to job he coveted for so long”

Though tempting, we can’t even blame Nick Clegg for this, although, following the first televised leaders’ debate, he did raise an issue of housing tenure:-

“It would be preposterous for Gordon Brown to end up like some squatter in No 10 because of some constitutional nicety.”

Or even David Icke:- “Gordon Brown is really a squatter”

No, we have to lay blame squarely at the door of the so-called Tory intelligentsia. After all, it was The Spectator, under it’s then owner/editor Harold Creighton which, back in March 1974, ran an editorial saying this about Ted Heath following the inconclusive general election of February that year:-

“The squatter at No.10 Downing St. has at last departed,”
“He clung with grubby fingers to the crumbling precipice of his power…”*

Seriously, some folk were so disorientated by the 2010 result that they were on the verge of crediting Sun or Mail journalists with originality.

*Andy Beckett – When the Lights Went Out, Faber and Faber, London, 2009


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