I could feel sorry for Gordon Brown.
It can’t be easy being pleasant to people day in and day out, especially when you think they’re talking rot.
There probably aren’t many people in public life who haven’t thought that someone who speaks to them is a bigot.
Sometimes they’d be right.
And who, in public life or not, hasn’t said something about someone in private, that they wouldn’t want repeated to a wider audience?
But regardless of what they think or feel about what’s said to them, good MPs respect their constituents.
Several years ago I spent most of two days in the National Party’s tent at the Upper Clutha A&P Show. I observed with silent admiration as Jacqui Dean, then the new MP for Otago, listened respectfully to people who gave her the benefits of their opinion on a wide range of matters, not necessarily with the benefit of facts or reason.
After one particularly obtuse bloke had finally stopped haranguing her while she listened attentively, I asked her if she wasn’t sometimes tempted to be a little less restrained.
She smiled and said something to the effect of: “Whether or not I agree with them, whether or not they vote for me, they’re my constituents and they deserve to be treated politely.”