Alex Hilton: Brown-baiting is poor journalism

Labour's conference, downbeat as it was, had a theme.

One was supposed to imagine an American baseball team made up of runts and losers. That team is being beaten all over the park by a stronger team, but in the break, the captain gives the players a pep talk, they find deep reserves of pluckiness and go on to win the game in the last quarter.

Labour's strategy for the week was written by Disney. But when the BBC's Andrew Marr asked the Prime Minister that final question on whether he was popping pills, I thought Brown was going to thump him with his clunking fist; it wasn't in the Disney script.

I do happen to know that the PM has an addiction. On the occasions I have found myself in Downing Street, I have noticed various discreet receptacles full of Fox's Glacier Mints where the PM can easily reach them. I have thought about sending him a pack of the sugar-free variety. But just because I have told you so, that doesn't make it news; that's just a rumour.

Marr knows the difference between a rumour and news. The difference is two sources. Marr had a conversation with his production team before the Brown interview and my (single) BBC source told me he didn't ask where the rumour had come from, who the sources were, how credible they were or for any background information.

Instead, he broadcast Tory bloggers' propaganda that the PM is mentally incapable of governing.

I agree Brown isn't perfect, but despite all of his flaws, there is no other British politician I would have trusted more to push through, in the face of fear and opposition, the bold moves he delivered to limit this recession. More than that, I can't see which other politician would have had the gravitas to lead a global economic response.

So Marr can ask the PM if he has been fluffing sheep for all I care, as it's clear we have a PM who might not be cuddly, might not be Disney, but who is getting the job done in the most difficult of times.

- Alex Hilton is a Labour parliamentary candidate and founder of political blogs Labourhome and Recess Monkey.

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