Monday 3 November 2008

What's the point of Sarah Brown?

Or, less specifically, what is the point of sending your spouse out to campaign for you? I've been thinking about this since it was first announced that Sarah Brown was going out on the doorsteps, and I'm still not sure. Her actions have spawned a good many articles, but has she convinced any voters?

Sarah Brown seems to be a very competent professional, and she will have a unique insight into the Labour Government. I don't believe, however, that she should be encouraged to go out to the voters as the PM's wife to defend things her husband's government has done. They are not her decisions, unless she has been secretly pulling the strings all along, and therefore she can't be held accountable.

I do think, however, if she were doing it without the media circus as an ordinary party member, rather than the PM's wife, that's different. In the SNP (I'm sure other parties aren't any different) we go out and take people as we find them on the doorsteps. Ordinary activists don't turn up with tv crews and a crowd of journalists because we're there to engage with people on a personal level. Labour completely mishandled the situation, from Mrs Brown being their secret weapon, to gags and threats to shoot journalists.

I wonder what Sarah Brown says to voters on the doorstep? "I think my husband's doing a great job, you should vote Labour". That's hardly a reason! Perhaps she excuses herself thus: "Sorry Gordon couldn't be here, he's sent me instead". Or is she best placed to take news of the failings of Labour back to the boss: "I'll let the Prime Minister know personally that you feel hugely disappointed that the Labour Party has sold out it's values". Given that it seems that the Labour spin machine is targeting specific voters, I wonder whether she'd even get the chance to really win anyone over or speak to anyone that hasn't been hand picked.

From a personal perspective, I can't imagine sending my husband out to campaign for me. Obviously, the situation is very different, but I wouldn't put him under pressure to do something he's not comfortable with. Also he's not a member of any political party and, at present, doesn't see the need to be. I had him out leafleting a few times before the 2007 elections and he comes to the occasional SNP event, but politics is my thing as much as all things computery are his. As I've argued before, we're allowed to have differing opinions too!

I very much hope Sarah Brown volunteered to help rather than being forced, but I still don't think that voters would find much comfort in finding a substitute on the doorstep.


Anonymous said...

What's the point in you ?

BellgroveBelle said...

thanks, that's insightful.

Will said...

For some reason, Sarah Brown's emergence on the campaign scene reminds me of Tommy Murie, the best man at my parents' wedding. According to the tales, Tommy was a bit of a dinosaur when it came to gender issues, and gave my Dad one piece of advice:

"Women are only good for two things: making bacon sandwiches and going on embarrassing messages!"

Maybe Gordon's taken a leaf out of Tommy's book. I wonder what they have for breakfast in Downing Street...