Monday, February 22, 2010

Brown (and Some Journos) In Denial

There's quite a bit of hubris among left wing journalists in the papers this morning. Oh, they say, does it matter that Gordon gets a bit grumpy? We all know he's a bit dour. What's the problem.

I invite them to consider their reaction to a FTSE 500 chief executive who had been accused of the same sort of bullying. Would they really attribute it to a ritual bout of grumpiness? I don't think so.

Scroll forward three years. Imagine the scenario. David Cameron is accused of bullying a typist in Number Ten. Does anyone really think left wing journalists wouldn't be in full cry, calling for his head on a platter? Me neither.

It is a matter for profound sadness that Gordon Brown has debased the office of Prime Minister in this way. He's in denial, but that just makes it worse. He may try to deflect the news agenda onto Mrs Pratt and her bullying helpline (as recommended by Lord Mandelson), as well as encouraging his aides to smear her as a Tory stooge but he cannot escape blame in this sorry saga.

29 comments:

Grandpa said...

Just as important is the fact that someone is lying and they should be exposed for that.

Bucket of Tongues said...

So Churchill shamed the office of Prime Minister as well, did he? Roy Jenkins' biog states how he mistreated his staff when he first became PM. Or are you making some partisan point, as I suspect?

Dungeekin said...

Methinks the apparatchiks doth protest too much...

All it needs is for a senior source to confirm the bullying and he's outed as a liar as well as a brute.

I can't recall ever reading of a Government disintegrating the way this one has. Tragic.

D

Sceptical Steve said...

The best indication that this accusation has hurt has been the lack of focus in the rebuttal operation, e.g. the helpline broke confidentiality, the organisation is a Tory front, and Gordon may be a bit moody, but...

It's all so unlike the professional approach we've come to know and love from NuLab.

It also suggests that they were caught with the pants down by Christine Pratt's intervention. The Labour media operation had geared itself up for a big effort to counter Andrew Rawnsley's article in the Observer, and then seem to have been stood down on Sunday afternoon in the warm afterglow of a job well done!

Eddie said...

Remember Rose Addis?

A 94 year old lady who was badly treated in hospital.

Her family, having made her plight public, caused embarrassment to the Labour Party.

Her patients right to confidentiality were torn up as Labour tried to undermine her credibility.

Remember Dr Kelly?

The Government Scientist thrown to the wolves because Labour thought he had spoken to the press.

Remember the Paddington survivors group?

Labour tried to find out the political affiliations of the members as a means of raking up opportunities to smear the group.

Labour will now use smear and innuendo to undermine the work of the anti bullying charity?

Smears are themselves a form of bullying. It stops people from speaking out, speaking the truth, as they fear that they will be the next victim.

Labour have for many years engaged in smear campaigns against both their own members and opposition.

The Brownites smeared the Blairites and vice versa.

Bullying is engrained in their culture. It is the culture of the closed shop.

50 Calibre said...

Mrs Pratt is going to be up against the No 10 dirt machine today. She's going to need a lot of support to help get her and her organisation today.

Robert said...

It's all a smoke screen to hide the YouGov poll showing the suppositories lead down to 6%.

At what point do you ditch Dave?

Sceptical Steve said...

Bucket of Tongues

When Churchill first became PM, Britain was at war, several cabinet ministers and a large part of the establishment were actively encouraging an accommodation with Hitler, British troops had just been evacuated from Norway, etc., and Churchill had been denigrated by all and sundry during his wilderness years.

Despite this, he was able to forge a lasting cross-party alliance with Atlee's Labour Party and other political adversaries. This doesn't suggest that he was seen as an irrational bully.

I would suggest that the circumstances then were more extreme than anything that Gordon has faced, and Churchill's overall approach was much more statesmanlike!

Timothy Belmont said...

It's like an episode straight out of school: the headmistress asks for proof from the poor victims as to whom the bully is etc. We all know that Brown is an unspeakable boor; I have no doubt that he is a bully to many of those civil servants below him.

The country will be well rid of the man, when the time comes.

Man in a Shed said...

Iain, you put your finger on why Brown will survive this. There is a very large amount of tacit support for Labour amongst the journalistic community ( esp the BBC ).

If we want to defeat Labour and save the UK from Brown we need to link his behaviour to the really toxic part of his personality - his incompetence and how it has destroyed the pensions, savings and prospects of us all.

Dilog said...

So when does Command Control become control freakery?

When does the Coercion of a Power Dependency relationship become bullying?

And when does an active online campaign become Cyber Bullying?

Take a look at the government's own siteCyberbullying - an introduction

Those in Power have been at this for too long and have been normalised into this kind of behaviour.

DespairingLiberal said...

Churchill worked very hard and worked his staff hard throughout the war, he was short and sometimes fairly brutal with opposition if it wasn't intelligent and he expected to be surrounded by tough-minded people who could put up a defence and argue toughly with him. All part of what made him the right leader during the war, even though close intimates (such as Brooke in his diaries) often found him infuriating. Not sure who would have run the bullying helpline during World War 2. Switzerland maybe? They would have had a lot of calls, especially from continental Europe.

Coming up to date, there does seem to be some doubt as to the veracity of Ms Pratt and her "helpline", the latter appearing to operate at least partly as a feed-through to commercial providers, one of which is run by her husband. On Today, she could not say exactly how many calls had been received about Number 10, she couldn't say if they were about the PM and she thought some (interestingly) were from the DPM's office. Perhaps she and her staff (and Trustee - Ann Widdecombe perhaps?) were hoping for a quick attack and ample coverage in the Mail and on Tory blogs. It must have taken them by surprise that the BBC headlined it and then all hell broke loose. Either it was politically motivated or it was a commercially-motivated "grabbing the moment" piece of PR that went wrong.

None of which is to say that Brown isn't a bully - but most of the worst allegations (that he throws things at people for example) have turned out to be unsupported or unproven. He clearly is to say the least eccentric in his emotional behaviour, but that is a different issue. Perhaps he is "demeaning the office" but then the voters can get rid of him. The involvement of self-styled "bullying helplines" in national political issues is frankly laughable.

Of course, if this were a Tory PM by the way (Iain) you Tory bloggers would be pressing for the closure of the helpline. I thought you New Right people are all against the "nanny-stateism" that such helplines represent anyway?

M said...

There is one question that so far hasn't been answered by Labour about the claims.

i.e. if Gordon Brown wants us to believe that the allegations are untrue then why doesn't he sue Andrew Rawnsley and the Observer?

Vienna Woods said...

Iain, I take your point about left wing journalists. I never regarded John Rentoul as silly, but his article in the Independent this morning regarding Brown in his limousine is again distorting the facts. In this article Rentoul alleges that Brown punching the back of the seat where the security man was sitting "scared" him, when Rawnsley said he "flinched". Rentoul goes on scathingly about the security man calling him "Diddums" - in other words a coward.

This is the most idiotic comment that could have been made. Imagine for a moment that you are in a close security detail and the person you are protecting suddenly hits you for no reason! Yes, I'd jump too! But there again, I'd have probably turned round and punched him!

Boo said...

Heard the interview on the Today program. Nice to see that Labour follow scientologist's fair game principle, for the greater good!

Paddy Briggs said...

Iain

You have clearly never worked for FTSE 500 company! If you had you would know that the 9/1 management style currently being ascribed by some to the Prime Minister is very much the rule not the exception. It certainly was during my time with Shell – especially in the latter years. Phil Watts, the only Chief Executive of Shell to be fired, was dismissed not for his aggressive and bullying behaviour but for his mendacity over Shell’s hydrocarbon reserves. Watts was a bully – but he was not alone in that in the higher echelons of Shell. Indeed as the reward systems got more and more generous for senior executives the house style at the top became more and more intimidating. The same applied at country level where local chief executives often ruled with rods of iron.

I do not condone bullying behaviour in business or politics or anywhere else. But when the prizes are so glittering then some people in pursuit of them behave badly. Haven’t we all done that sometimes? For the head honchos of the business world, like Watts, the prizes were excessive financial reward – and maybe a knighthood. From Rockefeller and Henry Ford onwards captains of industry have been bullies – and they still are. In politics a robust style is also common – but was Churchill and bully, or Thatcher? Some would say so. The allegations against Brown don’t strike me as exceptional – and it is certainly nonsense to suggest, as you do, that such alleged behaviour isn’t seen at the top of industry – it is rife there I’m afraid!

Alan Douglas said...

Labour says Brown "gets angry with himself". I accept that, but want to know WHO gets the BRUNT of this self-anger ? Since it is well-known that he never blames himself, by logical extension, it must be someone else.

in any case, having Vesuvius regularly going off across the room hardly makes for a suitable working environment.

Alan Douglas

titus-aduxas said...

"DespairingLiberal said...
Of course, if this were a Tory PM by the way (Iain) you Tory bloggers would be pressing for the closure of the helpline. I thought you New Right people are all against the "nanny-stateism" that such helplines represent anyway?"

Are you running a blog called Total Bollocks? If not, you should. I, for one, would want the culprit caught and kicked out and, if possible, prosecuted.

However, Mrs Pratt has done her best to maintain confidentiality. She has named no names, named no (specific) departments, named no alleged culprits.

As for nanny-stateism, this is not a state-run organisation, it is a private charity, run by someone who suffered at the hands of a bully.

Your comment leads to the conclusion that you believe the Samaritans, AIDS helplines, AA, Salvation Army, etc to be all parts of the nanny state. How pathetic you are.

starfish said...

Anyone seen this?

http://order-order.com/2010/02/22/flashback-is-this-really-why-fiona-gordon-is-going/

Funny old thing

Alix said...

Mrs Pratt has deflected the attention onto herself by making a very ill-judged intervention, without any help from Brown. He and Mandelson probably can't believe their luck.

I imagine Mrs Pratt just saw what she thought was an opportunity to get publicity for her small, local and not particularly convincing charity on a national stage. If some (unproven) Conservative sympathy was in the background of her reasoning, that is surely secondary to the fact that she's behaved very badly towards the people who trusted her helpline.

If I were CCHQ I'd be livid about her.

Mr. Musicology said...

Have you actually read her amateurish looking web site. It’s not a “bullying helpline”. She states herself that “we are not the samaritans”. It’s constantly stating that they can “take action for you if you need it”. It’s even discussing average pay outs for employment tribunal.

The problem for the tories (who obviously pushed her in front of the media) and Mrs Pratt as she’s about as believable as an agenda-less person, as that women who was in the Sun complaining about hand writing!

1: She’s already had to admit that her business is actually 50% help line and 50% “consultancy”. As in, she’s actually a mediator, who takes on these companies for clients

2: The tory party have spent the last year endorsing it. Cameron has spoken out about it numerous times in the last 6 months (a pretty small, highly questionable media enterprise I should add). Anne Widdacome is a board member. Tory councillors are other members. The office is actually located next door to Tory HQ in Swindon!? The tories ringing her to give her messages of support after her interview?

3: The whole basis of credible charity hotlines is that they are firstly completely confidential. Secondly, their owners generally don’t break this confidentiality to score political points.

You know, educated people realise that parties try and create media storms to counter any major announcement by the rival party.

But at the same time, you have to accept that anyone used is going to be heavily scrutinised by the people you are attacking.

It’s is quite fair for Labour to link the unfortunate Mrs Pratt to the tories. As let’s be honest, you have to be pretty na├»ve to think that the timing of it all wasn’t anything to do with the tories.

That’s the big problem with negative campaigning. It gives the targets free reign to just go after you in the same vein.

Lord Mandleson this afternoon stating that he has sources that Mrs Pratt has been brought into this by tory press officers.

The real problem is, how can anyone from the tories, with a straight face disagree with this, when the whole original claim is totally unproven, speculation?

Mr. Musicology said...

Sceptical Steve

Thatcher and Churchill were renowned verbal bullies.

The only difference is back then it was "leadership". When your a tory leader, chasing female votes, you'll do your best to paint it as "bullying"

Mr. Musicology said...

"However, Mrs Pratt has done her best to maintain confidentiality. She has named no names, named no (specific) departments, named no alleged culprits."

Bearing in mind some of these offices she specifically named, only have about 60-70 staff, I think it's unfrogiveable for any charity leader to be giving out this information.

As with my earlier point. These people put their trust in charities. They don't expect to become involved in political point scoring, as the web site owner is friened with tory hq

Mr. Musicology said...

"
i.e. if Gordon Brown wants us to believe that the allegations are untrue then why doesn't he sue Andrew Rawnsley and the Observer?"



Andrew Rawnsley probably wrote the book in the hope that he gets sued.

They are written to try and incite reprisal, and create hype.

The bigger punishment is for number 10 to simply ignore him.

So he can slip off to obscurity, for another 7 years, like he did with his last attack of New Labour in 2001.

What's more, it's very speculative, and obscure.

He states "Sir Gus had words with Brown, that could appear to have been a verbal warning".

You know. That could be any conversation

Mr. Musicology said...

"Methinks the apparatchiks doth protest too much...

All it needs is for a senior source to confirm the bullying and he's outed as a liar as well as a brute.

I can't recall ever reading of a Government disintegrating the way this one has. Tragic."


If there were any serious sources, they wouldn't need to male up "unnamed sources" to sell books would they?

As for disintegrating, I wouldn't call a 6 point poll lead quite that.

I bet Cameron wishes it was the case. He wouldn't have to resort to recruiting "charity" workers, and general smearing.

PS. Thatcher/Major = disintergration

Mr. Musicology said...

Ian

Mrs Pratt is quite obviously not fit to run any confidential charity, if she uses her position to score political points.

You may well think she just appeared out of nowhere with all these revelations.

I believe Mandleson is totally right. She's quite obviously been plucked out by Coulson to attack Brown, to coinicide with the Observer piece.

You know. The tories should be linked to her.

It's one of the poorer smear attempts from a party that I've ever seen.

Well, since their last attempt with "lettergate"

Victor, NW Kent said...

Mr. Musicology - you worked very hard at those serial posts. I hope someone else filled in on your duties at No. 10 whilst you were so engaged.

Unsworth said...

@ Mr Musicology

"Andrew Rawnsley probably wrote the book in the hope that he gets sued."

Oh really?

How does that work, then? Tell us how he stands to gain from that.

An ill-considered view at best, and total bollox in reality.

Unsworth said...

@ Mr Musicology

"Andrew Rawnsley probably wrote the book in the hope that he gets sued."

Oh really?

How does that work, then? Tell us how he stands to gain from that.

An ill-considered view at best, and total bollox in reality.