OPINION: Touchy-feely stuff seems slightly barking

Most would agree that Gordon Brown is probably a very nice man. Like lots of people in the public eye who have a rather grey disposition, those who have worked with them often insist that when the cameras are off, it is a different story.

These party-poopers are veritable Peter Ustinovs with caustic wit and, at the drop of a hat, can belt out Gilbert and Sullivan, perform the dance of the seven veils and be pleasant to your children. Friends of Brown confirm he is great company.

As chancellor, Brown admirably got involved with Africa; when he visited Mozambique and Tanzania in 2005-06, the country saw a different side to the dour Scot. Highlighting Aids, education and debt relief, the footage and the message were genuinely moving.

Most telling was his description of how he was inspired by missionaries who came to his father's church. No doubt he relished being away from Tony Blair, with his own worthy project and his own entourage, but his concern was sincere.

But when he became leader, a lengthy honeymoon revealed a strange hybrid. A man torn between being his usual self and the need to look very happy.

Much has been made of 'the smile'. He has the continual look on his face of the Oscar nominee who didn't bag the statue. An 'everything is fine' and 'I'm enjoying myself' grimace. We've all had to do it, opening a rubbish gift or during a disappointing date. Our Prime Minister has had to do it for nearly a year. It must induce migraines.

Brown's recent antics have been odd. Not only that, those Slick Harrys surrounding him consider his behaviour to be good spin.

Brown is personally going down his own 'it's the small gestures that count' route. A little letter to Chelsea's John Terry over his 'Champions League agony', phoning up random members of the public to share their pain.

A bit like when Tom Cruise used a hysterical fan's mobile to make a call to somebody's gran outside the Leicester Square Odeon. With all the letter writing and chit-chats, it's a wonder Brown has had the time to screw up quite so badly.

What next? Secret midnight deliveries of cupcakes to orphans, spooning out mash at the Vauxhall drop-in centre, a home-made lasagne for Amy Winehouse? Is Brown the new Amelie? Is he going slightly barking?

Who is to blame for this touchy- feely garbage? Blair? Princess Di? Amanda Holden? That bloke from Coldplay? We should be told.

Tara Hamilton-Miller is a political adviser and was formerly on the press team at Conservative Party HQ

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