Alex Massie

Gordon Brown’s American Helpers

Text settings

This is ridiculous. Apparently Gordon Brown has been paying a DC firm of speechwriters for help "tailoring" his speeches to an American audience. West Wing Writers have been paid more than $40,000 by Downing Street. This included $7,000 for "tweaking" Brown's dull, blindingly-obvious and banal speech to Congress earlier this year.

According to the Guardian:

The documents do not reveal which sections the writers tweaked, but in several instances the remarks betray subtle sensitivity to United States political sentiment.

For instance, they include references both to presidents John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, and to "the bravery and valour of the Americans who gave that last full measure of devotion" – to many Americans an instantly recognisable reference to Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Gettysburg Address.

Blimey! $7,000 for a reference to the most famous presidential speech in history! Now that's an impressive trick. Fairness demands that one note that the speech also contained references to such wildly unfamiliar concepts as the "Shining city on the hill", the "New Frontier", "all we have to fear is fear itself" and the notion of America as the "indispensable" nation. Wow!

It's kind of embarrassing that no-one in Downing Street could figure this stuff out for themselves. Kind of embarrassing? Make that hideously embarrassing.

It's also, as Charles Crawford points out, a waste of public money - albeit a trivial, if also telling, waste. There are, literally, thousands of professional hacks who could do this stuff at better rates.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articlePolitics