The bile and scorn which Tories are so keen to rain down upon Labour's most recent Prime Minister has always baffled me. Logically, you'd expect the real hatred to be focused on Tony Blair. After all he was the one who kept on winning elections, and played - publicly at least - the most significant role in keeping them in opposition for over a decade. And yet it is Brown - the man they were able to beat - at whom the venom is hurled. From a Labour point of view it's confusing - it's like us having a soft spot for Thatcher but loathing Major. Considering we're often told that the Tories are all about winning (after all they're the "natural party of government") they don't seem to have their priorities right.
The contempt that many Tory MPs feel for Brown was clearly on display this week as the former PM gave a rare speech to the house on phone hacking. His speech, it must be noted, was not amongst the most conciliatory of those given that day. Yet nor did it deserve the reaction from the Tory benches. He had only been standing for a moment when the first cry of "sit down" came from the government benches. His very presence there made them seethe and splutter with indignation. How dare a former leader of this country speak in the chamber? Who did he think he was? Dislike the man - loathe him if you must - but this was a former PM addressing the commons on a matter of national import. Was that really such a disgrace? For a few of the newest batch of Tory MPs, it evidently was.
A member of the lobby who I spoke to afterwards noted that the majority of those abusing Brown (and that's what it was), had only been elected in 2010. Perhaps that explains their discourteous reactions. To them, Brown was just a face on a leaflet, or a punchline to a joke. They think he is bonkers - someone to be parodied at best, bullied at worst. In their minds he is almost dehumanised, and their treatment of his seems to stem from that.
It's always annoying when people pose a question in a headline and then don't even try to answer it, but I'm afraid that's exactly what I'm going to do here. There are many negative feelings one might reasonably have towards Gordon Brown - pity, disappointment or even anger - but hatred? Pure, visceral, unadulterated hatred? I'm not sure where that comes from - but wherever it is, it's a dark and unpleasant place indeed...
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