Care services minister Ivan Lewis said Gordon Brown revealed “hidden emotional depths” when he cried after reading testimonies of children with learning disabilities.
The Department of Health minister said two hand-written notes from the children moved the prime minister, often criticised for appearing unemotional.
In an after-dinner speech at the Adass spring seminar, Lewis said the incident in January showed a “real humanity” that was rarely seen.
An adviser with Brown told him about a conference in which youngsters with special needs were asked to go on stage to give individual performances. All of them did so, apart from two nervous youngsters, aged eight and 10.
“They were very reticent, so instead of going up on stage they wrote notes instead, imploring to be listened to,” Lewis said.
“One of them said: ‘Many friends find reading really hard and feel good when they read a little bit and somebody notices. Please notice all achievements.’ When he read them, Gordon started crying, and said passionately, ‘that’s why this matters’.”