17 April 2009

Clive James on McBride and AC Quick

In his weekly essay on Radio 4’s A Point of View, Clive James reflects on Mr McBride and Mr Quick.  His conclusion is very astute:

I saw one newspaper report in which it was confidently asserted that Mr Brown found Mr McBride valuable because of his political astuteness and his gift for economics.

We are now free to wonder if Mr Brown's trust in those qualities was ever very well founded, but whatever we wonder, we won't be wondering about Mr McBride's reputation.

Only a very small child, after the ice cube melts, wonders if the ice cube is still in existence somewhere else.

But for the government, the question of reputational damage is real. The government might find it easier to get some of its reputation back if it could avoid coining silly new language in the attempt to soften each new setback.

The phrase "reputational damage" is meant to have a scientific air, as if it referred to something that was bound to happen. But there is no such thing as reputational damage.

There is only reputation, which can indeed be damaged, and can be restored only if somebody talks straight.

That is why it is impossible for Brown to restore Labour’s fortunes.  He just doesn't talk straight.

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