Blog: Oliver Letwin’s Weasels

As a PR technique, wholehearted apology can do wonders for you. It takes the wind out of your critics’ sails, displays your integrity and courage and puts you on the side of the angels. So you’d think more people would apologise more often.

The trouble is, they just can’t bear to do it. And when, under pressure, they finally do, their apologies are so filled with weasel words and sneaky justification that they end up doing more harm than good. We’re all too familiar with the classic “I’m very sorry if anyone was offended by my remarks….” meaning, of course, that the problem lay not in the remarks themselves, but in the unreasonable / unintelligent / downright stupidity of anyone who was misguided enough to be offended. I’m not going to apologise. I’m just sorry they are so stupid.

So, Oliver Letwin needed a stonking good apology. Here’s what he offered us :

“I want to make clear that some parts of a private memo I wrote nearly 30 years ago were both badly worded and wrong. I apologise unreservedly for any offence these comments have caused and wish to make clear that none was intended.”

Hmmm. Let’s deconstruct this wholehearted apology for a minute. More…

See more of the Chelgate Blog, written by Chelgate’s chairman and chief executive, Terence Fane-Saunders here.