Issues not eyesight

Look, OK, I get it. Gordon Brown is public enemy number one these days. Down in the polls, unpopular with his party, derided by columnists; he might be Sarah’s hero but he isn’t anybody else’s. Fair enough, we have reason to be angry at him. The economy is down the pan, I have as much chance of getting on the property ladder as Robert Mugabe does of winning the Nobel peace prize. Strikes, scandal, sleaze – all under Gordon’s lead.

Still. Can we stop hitting the man while he’s down. First it was Andrew Marr giving credibility to a hardly objective rumour mill simply to augment his celebrity status. Today, headlines everywhere are screaming about Brown’s eye damage.

Apart from the fact that Gordon having eye damage is hardly remarkable, (it is no secret that as a teenager a rugby accident caused him to lose sight in his left eye), I can’t really see (NOT intended as a pun) why this is relevant. I can understand why having a leader on antidepressants might present a problem, though that wasn’t why Marr was asking, but having eye problems?

He’s PM, for crying out loud, not a driving instructor. You don’t need great eyesight to understand political dilemmas, to solve economic woes, or make good speeches.

Good foresight maybe, but not good eyesight.

Besides, the man almost always voted most beloved PM in history, Churchill, was renowned as a drunk, so I think its safe to assume his liver was not in tip-top shape. Across the pond, the messianic president himself, JFK, had Addison’s disease. Neither of them were better or worse as leaders because of their health. A good leader doesn’t succeed because he is healthy, but in addition to that. If (don’t want to use the inevitable when) Brown loses the next election, it should not be because he is not in good shape.

It is downright wrong to judge him on this, as it is wrong to like or dislike Cameron’s politics just because SamCam’s dress was from Marks and Sparks. In any other profession, discrimination on such grounds would be a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Hold him accountable for his bad decisions, his weaknesses and his political flaws. But please, let’s stop judging our politicians for things that are entirely peripheral to their careers.

Let’s step out of the mud and, instead or name calling and slurs, let’s have a real debate.




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