Gary Barlow- when an apology isn’t an apology

I’ve expressed my mild dislike for Gary Rabid Tory-boy Barlow on the blog before, in fact it’s one of my top 20 posts of all time with over 83,000 views. Now Gary has apologised. Well, sort of, in the insincere way that someone caught doing something they shouldn’t do does when they get caught. It’s only taken him over three months- perhaps he attempted to set the words to a plinky piano motif.

In case you’ve forgotten, Barlow was involved in the same aggressive tax avoidance schemes as Jimmy Carr, who did a proper apology by saying “I now realise I’ve made a terrible error of judgement.” Barlow on the other hand has probably been taking lessons from his constituency MP (who happens to be the PM) because his “apology” smacks totally of a politicians non apology to me in every way that’s meaningful:

I want to apologise to anyone who was offended by the tax stories earlier this year.
— Gary Barlow (@GaryBarlow) September 2, 2014

Use of the word “stories” is interesting. It makes me think several things; firstly he is apologising for what people have read in the media, not his aggressive tax avoidance and secondly by using the word stories instead of reports, it robs what he is apologising for of a basis in fact. Stories are things we tell each other that aren’t necessarily true. Barlow’s participation in these tax avoidance schemes is a fact and has been widely reported. Linguistically I would also take issue with the inclusion of “want to” between I and apologise. I apologise is a lot more unequivocal than I want to apologise to my mind.

But then this is typical of Barlow to my mind. Barlow selflessly gives his time and effort to charity works to raise money for charities that pick up the people who fall through the holes left by swingeing benefit and support cuts caused by people like Barlow avoiding paying their fair share of tax in the first place. It’s sort of an un-virtuous circle. That his apology should be an apology for offence caused by stories about his tax affairs rather than an apology for the shabby state of his actual tax affairs is no surprise to me and shouldn’t be to anyone else either.


@TechnicallyRon said it better though (the Barlow tweet is a parody, it’s not actually by Gary himself).

What Gary Barlow really said
— TechnicallyRon (@TechnicallyRon) September 3, 2014