Monday, November 24, 2014

You sometimes have to say "Sorry" - do it well, but do it !

I have written before about the art of apology. When people in the public eye (especially) make a mistake there are ways to say "sorry" - and ways not to. The construct "If anyone was offended by what I said I apologise" is one particularly to avoid ! You wouldn't be apologising if you hadn't offended somebody would you ? And yet we still hear such weasel words almost daily. Which brings me to Emily Thornberry and Sajid Javid.

Ms Thornberry goofed by putting on Twitter a photo of the house of the now famous "White Van Dan" . It was in febrile times a slightly silly thing to do. I tried to sum up how I felt in a poem, and I've nothing much to add. Ms Thornberry apologised swiftly - although she fell into the "If anyone was offended" trap. She said that she had "made a mistake" and apologised "if she had upset or insulted anybody". There was no " if" about it. She had!

So what about Sajid Javid our theatre-avoiding Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport? After Lewis Hamilton won the Formula one world drivers' championship Mr Javid tweeted as follows:

Now I was not alone in correcting Mr Javid immediately. Lewis is actually the fourth British driver to win more than one championship - Jim Clark, Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart preceded him. Not a big deal you might think. Mr Javid may know as little about Sport as he seems to about the Arts, certainly about Motorsport. But wouldn't you have thought that he would have checked his facts before he tweeted? Or that some official would have checked for him? No matter, it didn't happen. He goofed. So what happened next?

After Javid's erroneous Tweet - once it was pointed out to him - did he apologise? Not least to Jackie Stewart the only one of Hamilton's three multiple winner predecessors still alive? Did he hell! What he did was delete the mistaken tweet and substitute this one:

No apology. No "Mea Culpa". Zilch. As I said it's not a big deal. The Minister made a foolish mistake. He managed to get up the noses of F1 fans like me. All he needed to do was say "Oops, sorry" ! But perhaps the multi-millionaire Sajid Javid didn't get where he is today by apologising for his mistakes? 


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