Eric Joyce shows how to apologise

Eric Joyce shows how to apologise

Getting violently drunk in a House of Commons bar, assaulting innocent bystanders, and uttering the immortal line, “there are too many f…..g Tories in here” (which, if literally true, brings a horrible image to mind), ranks as one of the most humiliating own goals ever scored by an MP.

But at least Eric Joyce knows how to apologise. Thereby starting the lengthy process of rebuilding his reputation. Full credit to him: a lesser man might have bowed his head in shame and refused to speak to anyone, let alone a pack of gleeful journalists on the steps of court.

What lessons about apologising does he teach us? First, he leaves nothing unsaid, fully admitting that he has a drink problem and a tendency to be violent. Secondly, he apologises, not just in general, but specifically to those he attacked. Thirdly, he refuses to duck any question. Fourthly, he comes across as genuine – he apologises so wholeheartedly, not, it would appear, for political effect, but because it’s the right thing to do. Fifthly, he’s stone-cold sober.

You might think it more difficult for an individual to apologise than for an organisation, because of the personal shame involved. So why do so many companies fail in the task? If Rupert Murdoch and his colleagues had shown a bit more of Joyce’s dignity at the start of the phone hacking scandal, News International might be in a rather better state.

Joyce made a horrible mistake. But the mark of a man is how he responds.

Article date

March 12th, 2012

Robert Taylor

Media Trainer


My main passion is media training, and I’m proud to be one of the UK’s most experienced and successful trainers in this field.

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