Brown’s Biscuitgate: at last, a crumb of truth

Oct 28, 2009
Adam Macqueen

Mumsnet founder admits: Gordon Brown was never asked the notorious biscuit question

Ha! That Gordon Brown! Can't even decide what biscuit he likes best. "The question was put to Mr Brown on the parents' networking site Mumsnet no fewer than 12 times, which, as it happens, is the exact number of times Jeremy Paxman put his question to Michael Howard in the notorious 1997 Newsnight interview," the Times pointed out.

"Anybody else would have laughed and picked a biscuit off the top of their heads. Not Gordon," jeered an editorial in the Sunday Times. He was "apparently unable to decide what the politically correct answer ought to be," sneered the Mail.

Each of these comments was made following the first report of biscuitgate on October 16. And it didn't stop there.

"Being more decisive would spare the Prime Minister needless embarrassment" declared the leader column of the Times, and even David Cameron weighed in at Prime Minister's Questions: "Are we really going to spend another six months with a Prime Minister who cannot give a straight answer, who cannot pass his own legislation, and who sits in his bunker not even able to decide what sort of biscuits he wants to eat?"
Except, er, no one asked him. As Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts has now clarified in a posting on the website, the biscuit question proposed by various messageboard users was never put to Gordon Brown in the hour that he devoted to the interview.

"The truth is that Gordon Brown didn't follow the live chat on the screen directly - he answered the questions grouped and fed to him by Mumsnet HQ and his advisers. He didn't avoid the biscuit question because it didn't cross his path...

"We were conscious of not merely focusing on frivolities. Fun as biscuits are, access to the Prime Minister is precious and we would have hated to waste time on Rich Tea Fingers at the expense of miscarriage or school starting age. Plus, of course, we'd rather not be seen as a soft touch."
He never said he listened to the Arctic Monkeys, either, if anyone cares...

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