Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Brown: Less Superman More Clark Kent

Someone I know who used to work at Labour HQ has told me a tale which goes some way to explaining why Gordon Brown isn't hugely popular among party staffers.

Just after Brown became Prime Minister, the then General Secretary of the Labour Party thought it would be a good morale building exercise if Gordon Brown payed a visit to Party HQ to meet and rally the troops. The PM agreed and so one day last summer he turned up at Labour's Victoria Street offices to deliver a pep talk. All was going swimingly. He made a short speech, then toured the open plan offices, stopping at each person's desk for a quick word.

After he had left, the excited party officials, still high on the adrenaline of meeting their hero, compared notes on their respective conversations with the PM.

"He said 'how's your desk?'" said the first woman. "That's funny, that's exactly what he asked me," said someone else. "And me," said a third. And so it went on.

It turned out that the only thing Gordon Brown could think of to say was to ask everyone if they were happy with the position of their desks.

I was telling someone this story this afternoon and they made a very telling remark. "Of course, stories like this could be apocryphal, but the fact that I can quite believe it to be true says it all.". As Shane Greer constantly reminds me, perception is everything.

Does anyone have other examples of Gordon Brown's inability to conduct 'small talk'?

25 comments:

pr roger f clementine iii cbe said...

Can't be true, Iain.

You said after he left they were enthused and high on adreniline, up until the point they realised he had asked them all the same thing.

But surely if your hero only asked you about your desk position you'd be like 'OMG, this guy is a freak'?

Yours in nobility

The Prof

Jim said...

Did you see him chatting to Matt Pinsent at the olympics? It was so awkward! I could have died of embarrassment. I bet downing streets just like 'The Office' but with none of the irony.

Anonymous said...

Look, the PM is getting on with the job and he'll do whatever it takes to help out hard pressed families.

Yours in balance

The BBC

Anonymous said...

Much like his when he wakes up in the morning story.

What's the betting that it mutates into a "when I go to bed" anecdote?

pr roger f clementine iii cbe said...

I'm so noble sometimes it seems like I'm the noblest guy around. Thats why my wife commented to me the otherday, she said, 'Prof, you so noble!' and I said 'Thanks Mrs Prof, I appeciate your candour' and she said 'I appreciate the fact you appreciate me for a chance you big noble chap you' and we carried on in this manner, a manner that can only be describd as hilarious, for quite some time before, and I quote, we stopped.

Yours in nobility

The Prof

Anonymous said...

This is getting silly Iain, I know your desperate to 'Down Brown' but surely you can think of a more adult way.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

This is getting silly Iain, I know your desperate to 'Down Brown' but surely you can think of a more adult way.

OK: Gorgon is one of these.

Martin said...

Is there something in the water today? James Forsyth in the Spectator managed "apocraphyl" this afternoon. It's "apocryphal", btw. "Apocalypse" is next week...

quentin letts said...

I'd share with you my perception of Shane Greer, but then I remember this blog has rules.

Anonymous said...

He has a defect, watch carefully when he is on a hospital tour etc. As people are explaining things to him he walks away and shakes hands with some other passer by. Bad manners if nothing else. However I think he has had a good fortnight.
Freedom to Prosper

Anonymous said...

This is a perfectly legitimate point, Iain. It tells us that our unelected PM has the personality of a pea, though you don't need to be a rocket scientist to work that one out! And if he has no personality, that makes him an odd-ball. Which he is. Oh, and he's not very good either, and how gut wrenching is it to see him like a pig in sh1t during this crisis, as though it was sent to save him. Sorry Brown, there are plenty of chickens waiting to come home to roost!!

double dragon said...

Brown told me he had a big John Thomas like the milkman's horse

lavrentiy beria said...

Richard Nixon had better people skills than this freak.

Anonymous said...

This is pretty pathetic. Not good PR. Learn from this.

Anonymous said...

Why is noone reporting the FTSE fall today? 314 points-7%: one of the biggest one day falls ever, almost as much as Dow Jones and everyone's reporting how ace Brown is. They've even taken market data off the front of the bbc. It's a conspiracy

Chris Paul said...

Much better than the clubbable Blair Iain, much much better.

Dale and his Friends Make Stuff Up said...

Sheesh. Alleged hearsay from some very vague Dale knowing non-Brownie ... used to smear the sound GB.

There are a good number of LP staffers passim and indeed LP enforcers nationally on whom I would not piss if they were on fire.

Iain's friend may be one of those. Good riddance.

Chris Paul said...

FTSE fall is neither here not there anon. Unreal. Nonsense. People like Guido pissing about. They should snap out of it.

215cu said...

Chris Paul,

And there in one second sums up the knowledge of the Labour Party on events in the City of London.

Yeah, thousands of traders 'pissing about'.

Shame they are 'pissing about' with your pension.

Maybe the phrase 'market sentiment' means nothing to you?

Form a sentence from these words.

Economy, paddle without, UK, creek, shit.

That should appeal to your funny smart alec brain more geared for witty, yet partisan retorts.

A colossal brain it seems as incapable of grasping the dire situation your leader has put us in.

It's the banker's fault, natch.

When banker's and trader's 'piss about' - who made up the rules of the game to 'piss around' within?

I'll give you a clue, they live in a house with a number between 9 and 11?

Windsor Tripehound said...

Iain,

This blog is in danger of changing from "Iain Dale's Diary" to "The Hall of the Mountain King". I've not seen so many trolls out and about since Billygoat Gruff crossed the rickety-rackety bridge.

However, it remains essential reading because I do need a daily dose of Chris Paul to lighten my dreary day.

"FTSE fall is neither here not (sic) there..". Course it isn't Chris; a massive fall in share values tells us nothing about the state of the economy. Don't stop taking the tablets.

wapping boy said...

I blame the HQ workers. If they'd only asked Brown about his props (sorry, I meant family) he would have yacked on for hours in his typically engaging way....

Andrew said...

I remember when Lady Thatcher did a tour around Central Office prior to the 2001. She asked a couple of questions about the office which promted one of the young researchers to launch into a complaint about the fact that his chair was broken and how he was he supposed to work for an election victory under such circumstances. All she could say in reply was "oh dear" but she did leave us with a gem of strategic advice and political insight "we've got to win back Cornwall"

Anonymous said...

My first job after leaving university was as a 'research assistant' for a certain well known Labour MP and member of the Shadow Cabinet in the 1980s - I put that in inverted commas because I actually ended up doing basic office work because the MP couldn't decide what he wanted researched. The MP was extremely paternalistic about the whole thing. There were only 12 employees, but we still had a tea-lady, who had to take her trolley around to each desk morning and afternoon to make tea or coffee - the rest of the day she tried to make herself busy with washing up and re-arranging the china-ware (not surprisingly, there was a fairly high turnover in this particular job). One tea-lady suddenly found out that she was pregnant - The MP called her into his office to give her a very stern 'fatherly' lecture and to tell her that she absolutely should have an abortion as she had a 'duty to the her career' not to take maternity leave (remember, this is the tea-lady). Thankfully, she was a woman who wasn't intimidated and told him where to stick his job. I fell foul of him with my personal habits - he didn't like the perfume that I wore to work one day! As it was an expensive one, I used it very sparingly and had often been told how nice it smelt on me. But, he didn't like it and I was told in no uncertain terms that I mustn't wear it again as he preferred more flowery scents (AAARRGGHHH!!!). To top it all off, every female in the office had to call him 'Sir' or 'Mr. -----', while every male employee, right down to the 15-year-old working in the copy-room got to call him by his first name.

Thatsnews said...

Unless, of course, Mr Brown engineered the crisis to give his premiership a bit of a boost?

Is he stupid enough to do that?

scully & mulder said...

@thatsnews

Is it too much of a conspiracy theory to think that Brown did indeed in some wya engineer the crisis. Look at what's happened. Several banks have been nationalised, including HBOS and RBS, making Scottish independence a lot less likely. If Scotland were independent ZNL would find it incredibly difficult ever again to get a majority in the House of Commons.