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17 June 2010

Brown emerges and quashes ill-health rumours

How claims that Brown was receiving “psychological treatment” fell apart.

By George Eaton

It was good to see Gordon Brown respond to claims that he’s been spending stints at an Edinburgh hospital for “psychological reasons” with the wit for which he was once renowned.

On a visit to a school in his Kirkcaldy constituency, he told reporters:

The only times I’ve ever been in hospital were for the birth of my children, for my eyesight, for Fraser . . . and when I was once up a mountain with John Smith and accidentally stabbed myself in the leg with a penknife.

Guido Fawkes had claimed that Brown was receiving treatment at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and, although he noted Brown’s public appearance yesterday, he is yet to make a retraction. Over at Liberal Conspiracy, a contributor has pointed out that Brown is unlikely to have gone anywhere near Edinburgh Hospital for two reasons. First, he is in the wrong catchment area and second, it’s inconceivable that the former prime minister wouldn’t have been spotted in a hospital that has no private wards.

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Speculation about Brown’s health is legitimate enough (though I thought Andrew Marr’s infamous question about prescription pills was entirely inappropriate), but the tone some commentators employ when doing so is crass, crude and thoughtless.

Guido, for instance, featured an image of the former Labour leader bearing the legend, “Is Brown bonkers?” One had hoped that society had evolved to the point where such comments had become as unacceptable as references to “cripples” or “spastics”.

Elsewhere, there is evidence that Brown is enjoying his new-found freedom. The Telegraph’s Tim Walker reports that the former PM is no longer forced to “tone down” his Scottish accent for English voters.

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