Support 100 years of independent journalism.

25 February 2010

Freesheet carries interesting Brown interview

(There are two surprises in that headline.)

By James Macintyre

Up until this morning, ShortList magazine was, for me, one of those bits of stuff people try to force upon you on your way into the Tube: that is to say, always to be rejected. Today, however, was different: on its front cover is an advert for an interview with Gordon Brown.

I grabbed one and, to my surprise, as I descended on to my particularly crowded platform on the Northern “Misery” Line, I saw that quite a few other passengers had, too. Perhaps people are actually interested in their rather mysterious Prime Minister. Perhaps it was partly the Piers Morgan effect. Perhaps it was just because, as I now note, it comes out weekly, on Thursdays.

Whatever the reason for its popularity, I can’t see people flocking to read about Brown’s predecessor when he was prime minister, despite his more “likeable” personality.

Talking of which, I discovered inside that this is the magazine which brought us headlines last week ushering in the rather implausible image of David Cameron playing darts. So it is logical that today it carries an interview with Brown. Perhaps Nick Clegg will be next week; one rather hopes so.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

The interview itself is actually pretty interesting, once you get past the writer’s overexcitement at visiting “the world’s most famous address”. I’ll let you read it for yourself, but one answer in particular jumped out at me (apart from the revelation, in the online extended version, that Brown likes to use text-message-type abbreviations such as “r u . . .?”):

Q. To borrow a Simon Cowell phrase, has “likeability” become more important than policy?

A. Not in the end for people, I don’t think. I think in the end, when people make a decision, they make a decision on character and about policy. You can have a guy who walks into the room, goes around the room, listens to what people have to say, and says: “I agree with you.” That guy can be a real personality because he’ll say what people want to hear. Or you can have someone with character who’ll walk into the room and say: “This is what I believe. This is what I think is important.” And I think people are more impressed in the end by someone with character than someone superficial.

Who could he be comparing himself to?