Thursday, February 11, 2010

Differences Between Brown & Thatcher: No 94

Lance Price's book is being serialised in The Independent today. Lance is one of the more sane commentators on the left and his account of power politics in Downing Street is well worth a read. Particularly this bit, which confirms everything Peter Watt alleged in INSIDE OUT.

Brown likes to start the day with an early briefing over the phone on what the media are reporting. This is followed by a wider conference call with his other key advisers at 7.30. He is not an avid reader of newspapers, although he will look at the front pages and the main political stories. His preference is for regular verbal updates during the day. "He will regularly ask, 'What's going on? Everything under control?' " When he believes a story is running out of control or that – the worst sin of all – the press office has been caught unawares, he can react with extraordinary flashes of anger. Stories of mobile phones hurled across the room in fury regularly appear in the press, although it rarely gets to that stage. Shouting at staff, jabbing an angry finger, throwing down papers, even kicking the furniture are far more common.

His behaviour towards relatively junior members of staff can be "unforgivable" according to one person who has witnessed it. "It isn't a very nice place for people to work. However bad it sometimes looks from the outside, it's far, far worse from the inside. And the atmosphere is very much set by him." Those in the press office more used to dealing with the daily onslaught of unpredictable news put it down to Brown's 10 years in the Treasury, where events could be carefully planned and the phone never rang in the middle of the night with another crisis to be handled.

It is Brown's misfortune that he is forever being assessed in the light of the observation that he is "psychologically flawed". Those who have witnessed his behaviour refer back to it constantly without being prompted. "It doesn't come close," said one. Another said Brown was always looking for somebody else to blame when things went wrong. "It's this self-pity thing. There's a pathetic side to him that is really unbecoming." A third said the problems have got no better with time, concluding: "He is psychologically and emotionally incapable of leadership of any kind."

And here lies the difference between Gordon Brown and Margaret Thatcher. Brown revels in bullying subordinates and junior staff who can't hit back. You cannot imagine him treating the likes of David Blunkett or John Reid in that manner.

Margaret Thatcher, on the other hand, would revel in shouting matches with her most senior ministers - people who were her equal. But you'll never find any of her staff to say a bad word about the way she treated them. She was kind, respectful, considerate and appreciative of their efforts.

And that's why Margaret Thatcher is a great leader of people, whereas Gordon Brown doesn't understand the meaning of the word. He's a bully, not a leader.


Dungeekin said...

One additional difference:

Margaret Thatcher was known as 'The Iron Lady' for her toughness in debate and her fortitude.

Gordon Brown, on the other hand, deserves an altogether different moniker.


Robert said...

Hitler was also loved by his personal staff (he was also kind to animals) and known to berate his generals, are you sure this is a good measure of a great leader?

john in cheshire said...

How many times is it necessary for one to say that they hate someone? But here goes : I hate Brown. I hate his thought processes, I hate his genes, I hate that he has been given the privilege to be born into this world. I hate that so many self-serving individuals have bent over backwards to extend the longevity of his political existence. I hate socialism and all socialists. They are inherently wicked. And I hate the fact that they have the ability to deceive people into believing their lies. How I wish there really was justice in this world, which would be exacted against all the miscreants who have exacted such a vengefulness against us the people of England, for this past 13 years.

Paddy Briggs said...

"But you'll never find any of her staff to say a bad word about the way she treated them"

How about:

“It is rather like sending your opening batsmen to the crease, only for them to find, as the first balls are being bowled, that their bats have been broken before the game by the team captain”.

Howe wasn't "staff" - as I recall he was Foreign Secretary. Thatcher was a bully - like it or not...

Iain Dale said...

You unintentionally make my point for me.

James Higham said...

One of the central differences is that Maggie didn't sell off all our gold.

miko said...

By god we are going to need someone with "eye-ron" clad balls when Brown is sent packing in EXACTLY 12 weeks (!!) time.

The mess they will leave will be like Berlin in May 1945 - a total disaster area,but right across the whole of the UK,not just one city.

Glyn H said...

The thing about Brown is not only that he is malevolent and incompetent but has also become diminished in Office; takes some doing that!

His dreadful PMQ’s yesterday is a case in point. He was narrow, partisan, patronising, and unable to think on his feet or change direction.

The supposed towering intellect of 1983 and 1997 has turned out to be quite unable to master the skills the premiership demands – and those who knew him will have known that – read Tom Bowers biography. His attitude to staff tells one all one needs to know as to his character. Common, vulgar, brutish. No wonder his policies don’t work. Marxism and Socialism never did understand human beings.

But Bevan and Bevin became great men in Office. Mr Brown is an embarrassment to our nation and his partisanship has ruined this country since Blair failed to sack him in 2001.

trevorsden said...

Yes Jimmy. Thatcher had a difference of opinion with her Foreign Secretary.

Sadly for Britain she did not have enough.

Mr Higham, another difference was she did not ruin our pensions industry. Nor introduce over 100 stealth taxes.

"Ten years of Gordon Brown at the Treasury have added £6,000 per year to the taxes paid by the average British household; an increase in taxes of 45% compared to 1997."

I would look up Garbagegate for the full SP

Erskine May said...

One suspects that Brown's reaction to what Lance Price has written will rather prove the point!

DespairingLiberal said...

Chris Mullin (in his Diaries) puts it best. "Brown is someone who is always wanting to be in charge but then is nowhere to be seen when a policy he is identified goes wrong". The man is both inept and cowardly and (I strongly suspect) was in no way up to the job of Chancellor, frequently obsessed with window-dressing on public debt (PFI) and with the appearance of policy rather than the actualite.

That said, similar complaints could be made against many of our PMs and Chancellors since the war. I don't think it's proven that he is the worse by any means. He is among the worst.

Iain, I think you are a little too kind to Mrs Thatcher. I agree she was formidable and at times when it mattered, a very determined, genuine and forthright LEADER, when that is a skill sadly lacking in many politicians in the UK. She was also according to many very difficult to work for - I think it was largely ideological with her. The people you say who she was kind to were all too frequently those with whom she found favour politically. Probably not too surprising.

We are still picking up the pieces from Blair's weakness of leadership, since Brown is a symptom of that, not a cause. If Blair had been tougher, he would have sacked Brown at an earlier stage, as Brown's conduct towards him as PM was frequently outrageous.

DespairingLiberal said...

John in Cheshire, tell us what you really think.

Q said...

You cannot imagine him treating the likes of David Blunkett or John Reid in that manner.

Gordon Brown is a bully and always has been. Bullies are generally cowards seeking to make up for their own shortcomings by abusing those they perceive as weaker, those they feel cannot hit back.

Erskine May said...

Despairing Liberal wrote:

"That said, similar complaints could be made against many of our PMs and Chancellors since the war. I don't think it's proven that he is the worse by any means. He is among the worst."

Depends how far back you want to go. He possibly competes with Anthony Eden as being the worst post-war PM.

DeeDee99 said...

If Labour people are coming out of the shadows now to 'tell it like it is' with Brown, its because they know he will lose the election and their memoirs will devalue when all the former Cabinet Ministers start spilling the beans.

This is just the start of the blood-letting. We all KNOW the man is a delusional control freak; a bully - and like all bullies, also a coward. We KNOW he is incapable of behaving like a Leader and we KNOW it is primarily his fault the economy/country is in the state it is.

The truth is starting to come out and post election, there will be a deluge of money-making memoirs to choose from. Don't buy them - you don't need to. You already know the truth. Don't enrich the parasites who allowed Gordon to become PM, stay in Office and in the process destroy the UK.

Houdini said...

I can relate to this completely.

I remember as a young NCO being told by the QM that I don't 'tell' the young craftsmen under me enough, and I don't order or shout at them enough. I told him that's because I don't have to and they do what I ask without question when I ask, unlike the other senior NCO's who shout and bawl and demand respect from those same young craftsmen who I only have to ask. I led them in situ and in war situations, and they allowed me to.

Any leader leads through the good will of those he or she leads and gains respect voluntarily.

The likes of Brown will fall from grace spectacularly and the the genius is why he hasn't up to now. He is the Gordon Ramsey of politics who will eventually come a real cropper.