The question struck me as the phony war ended, and start of the official election campaign was announced. Television clips showed a relaxed David Cameron, and a not quite so relaxed Gordon Brown. For some reason my thoughts wandered and paused on a comparison between the Prime Minister and his fellow Scot, Colin Montgmerie.
Colin, like Gordon, is not at his best when a microphone is nearby. This has become apparent since his appointment as Captain of the European Ryder Cup team. When asked even an innocuous question, his face distorts as evidence of some inner turmoil. Then there is rush of comment with only glimpses of the intelligence of the speaker. Over-rehearsed, rather than under-rehearsed.
Gordon’s performances can also appear over-rehearsed. He has been trained to smile at the cameras. Unfortunately, the smile is never totally convincing. I realize that there may be medical explanation due to his well-reported facial injuries sustained as a student. Unfortunately, the game of public presentation does not permit concessions on that count. Gordon on camera, like Colin, appears to suffer from performance anxiety.
And as any life-coach will have been telling both Gordon and Colin, they should approach interviews remembering their achievements. Each is a proven winner in his field. Ah yes, whispers Colin’s inner voice, you might be a multiple European Tour champion but you never won an Open championship. Ah yes, whisper’s Gordon’s inner voice, you might be Prime Minister, but you were never elected to the position.
At present the inner voices seem to be the more powerful. Can nothing be done to diminish these effects? There is plenty of advice available, and will be offered by various experts on political, sporting, or just everyday psychology. Much of it boils down to the Dale Carnegie School of building inner confidence, with a few flourishes about visualization.
Colin (more than Gordon, perhaps) knows that performance can be grooved, and supported by an expert coach (on the golf course, at least). At present the inner voices seem to be the more powerful. Only he will know whether the inner voice got in the way of him executing a vital putt and depriving him of an Open victory. Only Gordon will know if inside he is feeling confident enough, and it is no longer a battle with inner demons.
And Gordon faces severe trials in the weeks ahead against David Cameron, who appears to have no such inner demons.