Friday, September 11, 2009

If Brown Is Ill He Deserves Our Compassion, Not Our Insults

Last week I began to write a blogpost about an allegation that the Prime Minister was alleged to be taking powerful anti depressants. The story had appeared on a blog run by John Ward. In the end I didn't run it as it was impossible to stand up. However, since then it's become the talk of Westminster.

Matthew Norman wrote about it in yesterday's Independent and Guido Fawkes has given the full details on his blog. Even lefty John Harris is speculating about the Prime Minister's state of mind on Comment is Free. And he's not the first. Behind the scenes in Westminster it is a regular topic of conversation. Labour MPs discuss it, along with the rest of us.

This particular story's provenance seems to be a single source in or close to Downing Street who didn't quite realise the extraordinary consequences of what he was saying about the Prime Minister's new dietary requirements.

So where does it go from here? I am afraid this one is down to our friends in the lobby. As Guido says at the end of his blogpost...
In the context of all this speculation and his manifest physical unease, surely somebody in the Lobby has to publicly ask the question at the PM’s next monthly briefing: “Prime Minister, have you been taking medication that may affect your judgement?”
I doubt there will be any takers.

If the story has any element of truth in it, Brown wouldn't be the first Prime Minister to suffer from medical or psychological problems while in office, as you will discover if you read David Owen's book IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH, which details the medical conditions of political leaders over the last hundred years.

Laurie Penny, who writes the Penny Red blog, has written a piece on this on Liberal Conspiracy. She is completely unworried by the possibility of the PM taking anti-depressants...

We have no way of substantiating this rumour, but let’s for a moment run with the assumption that Brown is taking anti-depressants.

My response? Good. Great. If the Prime Minister of Britain is suffering from depression or some other mental health condition, which given the stresses of his current position seems highly likely, then I’m glad he’s getting treatment for it. I’m glad he’s man enough to admit that he might need help.

Anti-depressants are used by millions of people in this country, although the stigma attached means that many of us don’t talk about it, and in almost all cases barring those of people detained against their will in institutions, the process is both voluntary and helpful. It takes courage to go to the doctor and say that you have a problem, even if you’re not a leading political figure who’s constantly in the public eye.

I only wish more politicians would follow his example – after all, it’s not as if mental health difficulties in government are unheard of.

Some of the greatest leaders the Western world has ever seen had serious mental health difficulties. Winston Churchill was plagued by crippling depression, which he referred to as ‘black dog’ and treated with that much less effective anti-depressant, booze.

Lincoln was also chronically depressed and anxious. The Time To Change campaign has hilighted these examples, along with other famous figures who had mental health difficulties, such as Florence Nightingale and Charles Darwin.

Last year, a Mind investigation found that large numbers of politicians and staff were forced to hide mental health problems, with 19% of MPs, 17% of Peers and 45% of staff reporting personal experience of mental health difficulties. And in 2001, the Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik outed himself as a person with depression, and was subsequently elected for a second term.

So is the ‘Prime Mentalist’, as he has become known, a person who has mental health problems? It certainly seems likely . Would that fact, by definition, make him unfit to lead the country? Absolutely not.

It's a well argued point of view, certainly, even if some of the assertions made are questionable. Leaving Gordon Brown as an individual out of this, is it really possible to do the job of Prime Minister if you're suffering from chronic depression? Laurie argues that if Churchill could, anyone can. But the demands of the job nowadays are so 24-7 that you have to be at the top of your game the whole time. Having said that I know of a Cabinet Minister in the not too distant past who was plagued by bouts of depression. He was in a very senior job and offered to resign. But the Prime Minister of the day was totally supportive, knew all about his condition and encouraged him to continue. He did just that. Alastair Campbell was in a very high pressure job and coped. Just.

I have several friends who suffer from depression from time to time. Life is often lived on the edge. They just don't know when the black dog is going to strike. If our Prime Minister is indeed suffering in this way he deserves our compassion, not insults.


OscarIndia said...

Interesting use of languag. He's usually "THE Prime Minister" but in this he's become "OUR Prime Minister".
Do we claim some ownership because he's potentially ill?

TrueBlueBlood said...

Brilliantly written piece Iain.

Depression is very common across the world.

But given the issues the UK is facing, if he is suffering illness, he should stand aside and get well, for his family's sake and the country's.

Pete said...

"They just don't know when the black dog is going to strike."

Let's just hope he hasn't got his finger on the nuclear button when it does, eh?

Anonymous said...

Agreed. As somebody who is haunted by the black dog myself I sympathise. I would prefer, however, that his office be open about it and help reduce the stigma around mental health not inadvertantly encourage it.

Oliver Drew said...

He most certainly does deserve compassion - I've seen depression up close and personal and it is just horrible both to see and to feel.

I wish/hope that he, if asked, would feel that he was able to admit it. Whether he should continue or not is a matter for him though, whether he feels he can continue to cope until the next election or not (and beyond if he thinks he can win it - no matter how unlikely that result is).

vervet said...

He will deserve our compassion if, and only if, he admits to his problems and, for the good of this country, resigns.

Desperately clinging to power will rightly draw disrespect.

kris said...

maybe so, but being Prime Minister is an awesome responsibility. If he is indeed suffering from an illness, he needs to do what's right for the country and not his ego.

Gareth said...

He does deserve some compassion for being ill, but he still deserves insults for the type of man that he is.

Anonymous said...


This is a great piece. I have always despised Guido's 'The Prime Mentalist' phrase, as it is totally insulting and derogatory.

Great to read piece's like yours.

Ollie Cromwell said...

Iain, I would of course have compassion for anyone suffering any illness who then finds it exacerbated by a stressful job. That is unless that person had smeared and backstabbed his way to it, not caring who he destroyed along the way, and then clung onto it at all costs even when it is abundantly clear that he does not have the capacity for it. I will reserve my compassion for the employees who have to put up with his abuse, flying mobile phones and rages.

I will offer Mr Brown compassion when he is in convalescence after standing down for the sake of his health and the nation’s. Until then I will insult him as he insults us with his lies and incompetence.

I believe the Lib Dems are looking for bleeding hearts.

Truppenzwei said...

Well said Iain. If more public figures who suffered from depression were up-front about it it might help remove some of the stigma.

Unknown said...

The best research available, and surely the UK's PM will be treated by the best evidence based medicine, shows that for all but severe depression physical exercise is the most effective treatment (more effective on its own than when combined with medication). If the PM is on medication this would indicate that he is not suffering from the type of depression that can be lived with but is seriously ill. Someone needs to tell him that he is not essential to the country (as Churchill was) or his party and he owes it to himself and his family to quit.

Madasafish said...

If Churchill coped, anyone can. HIS job was 24/7 and he was never in control of events - which from 1939-42 were pretty awful.

Having said that, he was exceptional and proved he was human.. unlike our current PM.. who tends to give the impression he is from another times.

At others he appears normal...

Anonymous said...

This man will never have compassion from me, he has brought suffering on millions of people and deserves to suffer in the fires of hell for all eternity if you subscribe to that sort of thing, if not then any painful terminal condition will do just so long as he leaves the job quickly.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should adopt the US convention where a candidate has his/her medical records open to scrutiny. We knew all about Reagan's anal polyps, for example - and with his consummate wit, he able to joke "Between Iran-Contra and my medical problem, one more deep probe and I'm finished."

Delusions of Grandeur said...

I think Brown is bad for Britain, and personally detestable. Having said that you're bang on the money here Iain. Mental health conditions continue to have enormous stigma attached to them - regardless of their severity. You're ahead of the game on this one, and have given a lead that others should consider following.

Anonymous said...

Part of the problem is that 'mental health' is treated as a single condition, whereas physical health is accepted as encompassing a range of conditions. There's a big difference between having a sore finger and a terminal illness. 'Mental health' encompasses a range of conditions. The more this is discussed and out in the open, the more it will be possible to assess someone's competence for office. With something like mild depression, the person may suffer - it affects the quality of life - but not necessarily the work; indeed, the work may be more creative. With more serious conditions, it may affect the capacity to work. We need to get away from talking about mental health as if one person's mental illness will be the same as another's.

David said...

If Brown is clinically depressed he deserves compassion. But the question is whether he is well enough to be PM. I have a family member who suffers from depression and it is tragic but the consequences are an inability to make decisions, to concentrate, to get things done. It is possible that GB's medication is doing a better job of dealing with the symptoms of depression but you do not have to make party political points about recent events to wonder. If he is seriously ill he should stand down.

Anonymous said...

Agree with posters above -our compassion can wait until he does the right thing for himself, his family, his Party and the nation, and steps down. He will be fine financially, under less stress, but I cannot admire his stubborn refusal to leave aq job at which he has been such a disaster.

Frugal Dougal said...

Well said Iain. I think some elements are trying to stir up the baser instincts against the Prime Minister, risking a backlash against us on the grounds of Eden and his mental state during Suez.

Winston Churchill certainly suffered from depression, but that isn't the whole picture: he was manic depressive, hence building walls to work off energy.

As somebody who lives with manic depression myself, I am concerned that things that are being said about Brown's mental health right now may afect me and my family, and the many like us, more than they will Brown.

And at the end of the day, we're fighting Labour on its dismal record on running the country, nothing else.

JPT said...

But he's running the bloody country!!
If he's not up to it (for whatever reason) then he should nicely bugger off.

Gordon Brown said...

Sorry Iain but I feel no pity for him whatsoever.

Does anyone in the military have a spare pistol that they can lend him for the evening?

Anonymous said...

This is the start of his stage managed exit from public life.

Its designed to blunt Tory attacks on his dreadful personality.

Probably spin.


Lord Lindley said...

Compassion? for someone who has nearly bankrupt the country, nearly ruined my life and income. The sooner he tops himself the better. No I won't regret my feelings towards him, before some little social worker asks.

Boo said...

To be frank, if the guy didn't suffer bouts of depression I'd be concerned.
The past year would be a body blow to the best of people.
If he's not miserably, I would suspect he was suffering from delusions.
It is painful to watch, but he and the labour party are staggering on as the walking wounded and only the election will put them out of their misery (cetainly not another failed coup attempt which will happen this autumn).

Anonymous said...

A false dichotomy. The choice is not compassion vs insult, but stays vs goes. Two of the most typical symptoms of severe depression are a terror of making any decision and a terror of engaging with other human beings on any social or intellectual level. Which is why the depressed tend to turn off the phone and stay in bed for weeks on end. There is no insult in saying that through no fault of his own GB is incapacitated by his illness and should retire.

David said...

From a medical website:
"Symptoms of MAOI overdose include severe anxiety, confusion, seizures or convulsions, severe drowsiness or dizziness, cold clammy skin, rapid and irregular pulse, fever, hallucinations, severe headache, coma, tremors/spasms, excessively high or low blood pressure, muscle stiffness, difficulty breathing, extreme sleep difficulties, or abnormal irritability."
Again experience indicates to me that a politician's lifestyle is not entirely compatible with the regular eating and taking of medication that is optimal for such powerful medicines.

TheBoilingFrog said...

If our Prime Minister is indeed suffering in this way he deserves our compassion, not insults.

Would this be the same PM who employed Damien McBride who attempted to smear George Osbourne's wife with unjustified mental health allegations?

The same PM who never apologised for these actions.

Anonymous said...

That's all well and good Iain, except he is not 'coping'. Whatever medication he is on may be helping, but he is clearly still unstable and unable to function well enough to do his job properly.
Compassion would better descibe removing him from a job which is clearly causing him harm, rather than propping him up in his job untill something terrible happens.
And apart from that, he only deserves the consideration he has offered others through his romour mill.

Plato said...

As someone who has also seen mental ill-health up very close, Gordon has my sympathy - BUT...

He is in charge of the country, his rages and Mr Invisible act do us no credit.

His conduct and decision making over many years make him unsuited to the role of PM.

I'd rather have a drunk like Charlie Kennedy than Gordon.

Jules Wright said...

i agree with your sentiments iain - but not when it comes to the job of PM. if he's seeing the world through a chemically-induced perspective - and that world is one of recession, war, ideo-religious struggle and political malaise - then he should resign forthwith in order to recover his mental health. it might be the bravest thing ever does.

i don't care about who struggled on and how in the past and nor do i care about the precedent of churchill and his depressed dependence on alcohol. no surprise there: he was steering the nation through hurricane seas of potential physical, political and social annihilation at the time. these things just aren't relevant.

this is today; the political and media pressures are crushing as never before - for all but the toughest, most quicksilver and most forensic of minds. a clear head and no chemical crutches in this job please.

longtimetory said...

I agree, someone with depression should be treated compassionately. However, if the talk about his diet is true, it seems likely that he is on a Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor. This is worrying in two respects:
1. His condition is much more complex than simple depression as these drugs are dangerous and are definitely not front line treatment. They are kept for unusually intractable cases or those with added complications.
2. Any inadvertent taking of the banned substances (and there are quite a few of them) could lead to catastrophic rises in blood pressure with potentially disabling or even fatal results - a worrying thought in a leader of our country.
How long has he been taking them? If for many years, then this is of concern in itself. If this has arisen as a result of his holding the office of PM, should we not consider whether he has the mental strength to sustain this role?
Incidently this situation mirrors a recent episode of the radio sitcom "Electric Ink". I wonder if the writer (Alistair Beaton) had some inside knowledge. The series is being repeated - it will be interesting if this particular episode will be broadcast.

Ben said...

Well said Iain.

I don't often agree with you (as is the way with politics) but I have new found respect for you. I hope more people across politics have the wisdom and sensitivity to respond with compassion rather than partisan attacks.

Anonymous said...

If he is ill then he needs treatment, but he should not be in charge of running our country and someone else should be in his place.

If a person who is a known depressive of this nature and is on pills to help overcome his condition cannot obtain a shotgun or firearm certificate, then Brown who has his finger on our Nuclear option should not be in office.

He should be left to recover and not lead himself into more problems with his health.

Sean said...

Once the PM stands down because of depression, which is treatable, then who else will be forced to do so? What other mental illnesses will become a bar to high office?

Your piece is inherently sympathetic but it runs the risk of worsening the inherent prejudice against mental illness ("He's mentally ill, so he can't do this job.")

Anonymous said...

Too much comment about removing the stigma and too little thought for what is best for the country.

Sympathy for the individual should not be used to excuse his actions.

Anonymous said...

If Brown Is Ill He Deserves Our Compassion, Not Our Insults

If Brown is ill, *we* deserve his resignation, not his continued pretence that all is well.

Compassion is all very well but it is a luxury we can ill-afford when a dangerous and mentally unstable individual is wrecking our lives. The Mental Health Act allowed individuals to be "sectioned" because compassion for a damaged person is less important than protecting the innocent from the warped behaviour of that damaged person.

Kelshall said...

I very rarely comment on your blog despite being a frequent reader, Iain, but was compelled on this occasion.

You're spot on about this. I think very little of Gordon Brown as a politician but I would be appalled if he was forced to resign (perhaps at some upcoming major party gathering...) on account of depression.

Say what you like about his courage to call an election, it takes balls the size of coconuts to admit you have a problem and seek help and I respect GB a great deal for doing that.

I can't believe I just wrote that last sentence...

Wrinkled Weasel said...

The man may be "suffering" from depression, but he is also suffering from hebeprhenia, malignity and a pathological need to destroy anybody who criticises him.

Brown is evil. I don't feel sorry for somebody who has almost destroyed our way of life and lied time and time again.

Hebephrenic Schophrenia is defined thus:

A form of schizophrenia in which affective changes are prominent, delusions and hallucinations fleeting and fragmentary, behaviour irresponsible and unpredictable, and mannerisms common. The mood is shallow and inappropirate and often accompanied by giggling or self-satisfied, self-absorbed smiling, or by a lofty manner, grimaces, mannerisms, pranks, hypochondriacal complaints, and reiterated phrases. Thought is disorganized and speech rambling and incoherent. There is a tendency to remain solitary, and behaviour seems empty of purpose and feeling. This form of schizphrenia usually starts between the ages of 15 and 25 years and tends to have a poor prognosis because of the rapid development of "negative" symptoms, particularly flattening of affect and loss of volition.

Ben said...


Remember that, in contrast to the US system, the PM gives the army instructions, not orders.

Anonymous said...

I bet he is not as depressed as my Daughter in Law who waved her Husband off yesterday on his third tour of Afghanistan.She now has 7 months dreading every knock on the door and every news bulletin.

Insult the Prime Minister? Never because he is truly not worth it.

Johnny Norfolk said...

It would not be a suprise when you think of what he has done. I am sure he believed he was doing what the thought was right, but it is clear he was not fit to be Chancelor or PM.
The problem is that he has had such a high opinion of himself and he cannot see the truth.
For his sake and all of us just go.

Anonymous said...

Not the slightest sympathy from me. No one asked (or voted come to that ) him to be PM. I am sure his incompetence has brought about death, militarily and business failure, house loss etc.

Resign now, if you wish to unburden yourself Brown.


Shaun said...

"Laurie argues that if Churchill could, anyone can. But the demands of the job nowadays are so 24-7 that you have to be at the top of your game the whole time. "

The implication, therefore, is that it was easier to run the British Empire during sustain assault by Axis powers in the 1939-1945 period than it is to handle 24/7 media. That's got to be some of the biggest hyperbolic nonsense I've heard in a long time, not least because WW2 was, demonstrably, inescapable!

Scary Biscuits said...

If depression was all he was suffering from he would indeed be worthy of our compassion. However, he also seems to suffer from vindictiveness, where no trough is too deep to smear an opponent, and at the same time a shallowness of purpose, where neither he nor anybody else seems clear on what he is there for.

Churchill may have suffered from depression but he made up for it by being brilliant at other times. Brown just seems to be bad all the time. This country deserves better and millions of people shouldn't be made to suffer or our children loaded with unsustainable debt so he can feel better about himself.

I see the beginning of a get-out-of-fail-free card for Labour in this. If they keep Brown they will be punished at the polls: if they depose him they will be punished even more. However, if the men in white coats can gently and kindly escort him away it would be the ideal platform for a new leader.

Brian said...

I endured years of clinical depression as a result of Brown's selfish policies. If he is hurting as much as I was that is good. When he resigns we will be equal and I will forgive him and offer him the sympathy I never received at work.

Cynic said...

Compassion yes...but there is the reality of does any illness seriously impair his ability to do the job.

If so, then he really should consider his own postion for his sake and that of his family as well as the Country. He could then leave with dignity.

Chris Paul said...

Brown will be WELL not ILL if he has the right treatment for any condition he may have. Statins or MAOIs same difference. If you are treated successfully you are WELL, if you are untreated you may be ILL. Is all. But I will be posting on this shortly.

Wight Tory said...

Oooooh a nasty Tory here.

If he's not fit for duty then he should stand down. If he can't recognise that then those closest to him should do the decent thing and make him.

Since none will make that call it would assume that one is fit and well...

If not, then the self destruction/associated clinging to power deserves the outcome it will get and I'll allow my maker to make that call.

Me, however thinks its a non-story, made up on the basis of a diet list. As a diabetic, you'd know about that Iain, (thought I hope your resisted the oblong Jaffa cakes ;-)) The fat lump, like myself needs to get into shape, anybody see the Hippo hopping out of the Helicopter recently?

Bardirect said...

There are two aspects to this issue:

Firstly, the "black dog" view is too simplistic. Whilst mood disorders embrace a variety of characteristics according to the precise diagnosis, common features are poor motivation, lack of insight and cognitive errors which lead to poor judgment and inability to predict the consequences of ones actions.

Secondly, if any part of the rumours is true it points to a massive cover up by the entire labour leadership, none of whom in consequence is left fit for office.

Would he be expected to remain fit to stay if the next course of treatment included ECT? (if not undertaken already)

JuliaM said...

"This is a great piece. I have always despised Guido's 'The Prime Mentalist' phrase, as it is totally insulting and derogatory."

I agree, having become quite a fan of Simon Baker...

Real World said...

Iain, Any room in your ivory tower for us mere mortals?

As others have posted, spare a thought for all those whose lives have been destroyed by the deliberate actions of this wretched individual.

"Please pass me some more cake Marie..."

Unknown said...

Sod Brown, we're all turning to drink because of him and his other useless leftie mates.

James Higham said...

Yes and then get the F out of politics. He is a criminal and needs then to face those charges. If found guilty, he can then go to an asylum if found mentally ill.

Thats News said...

Just because someone is depressed does not mean they cannot be evil.

Brown set his stall out very early on. Suggesting you cheat your friends by giving them bricks rather than booze is hardly something one would expect from a 'Son of the Manse.'

Matthew 7:9
"Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?"

Quite clearly, Gordon Brown would think that a fine thing to do.

Depressed or sociopathic?

Costello said...

If the rumours are true and he is genuinely ill and taking powerful medication the self serving bastard should do the responsible thing and resign. If he does that i might manage to feel some compassion for his sickness.

Bruno said...

You missed part of the question

“Prime Minister, have you been taking medication that may affect your judgement?"

"And if not, why not?"

Anonymous said...

Just about the best blog post you've written Dale.

Hawkeye said...

We can offer him compassion as a human being, but as a politician he deserves utter contempt.

I am with those that believe that this is the spin management of his exit, the start of a very elaborate MaCavity disappearance so that he does not have to face the electorate.

essex75 said...

iain, i can have no compassion for that man.

Anonymous said...

Half the comments on here could be evidence of some pathological disorder or another. Wrinkled Weasel, for example, comes across as the type of patient who wears a white coat and pretends to be a doctor.

Weygand said...

The point is not compassion but competence.

If PM is obliged to take drugs that influence his thought processes and behaviour then he is a potential liability to the country and should stand down.

In that case, he would be deserving of our compassion and most people would be happy to give it to him. Yet he would forfeit that compassion were he put his personal ambition before the interest of the country and remain in office when he was too ill to fulfill his duties.

The only reason for him to remain in office would be if (like Churchill) he were - even with his problems - still the best person to run the country - and not many people even in the Labour Party believe that.

The Purpleline said...

This car crash of a PM every day another wheel falls off, is showing classic signs of breaking up. There have been more and more terrible foreign policy decisions since the summer recess started, the latest the Millipaed foreign secretary sanctions a rescue attempt where a Special Forces, soldier gets killed, and innocent Afghans as well. One has to wonder, just what is going on.

I doubt he is depressed, he looks more troubled than that, I believe he has multiple personality disorder. This is quite apparent when something goes wrong and he disappears or passes the blame onto another party. He really believes it was someone else, it normally is, his other personality.

He is a repressed homosexual, who after a close love affair with two Nu- Labour architects, reason why Cherie dislikes him. The man is a classic power crazy nut, who could not run a student bar.

Brown must be sectioned and the Queen must dissolve this parliament, Brown is destroying England and the ribbon is slowly being tied around the gift parcel of serving us up to the EU.

patently said...

Quite right; if Brown is ill, we should be sympathetic. Once he is gone.

Until then, no; by remaining in office he holds himself out as someone who is fit to govern, and is therefore open to criticism that he is either (a) not fit, or (b) not governing well.

As for the stigma angle, mental health problems should not be viewed any more harshly than physical ones. But, equally, if a firefighter broke a leg, it would be right to ask whether s/he should remain in the job, at least until the leg was better. If the PM is mentally ill, it is right to ask whether he should stay in office. We cannot pre-judge the answer, but that should not prevent us asking the question.

GoodnightVienna said...

The difference, Iain, is that your friends are not the Prime Minister of this country. The actions of the man are not 'usual' by any stretch of the imagination.

For the past twelve and a half years Brown has steered this country as Chancellor of the Exchequer and now as PM. If he is suffering from any form of depression or mental illness then those who support him are equally culpable. You can't make excuses or claim mitigation. I want to know - and, be assured, if it's true, I want retribution at the polls. He'll get no compassion from me, nor will his co-conspirators. Don't conflate the two issues of mental health and the capability of the PM of this country. One deserves compassion, the other deserves a boot up the backside for putting himself forward.

Lord Elvis of Paisley said...

Come off it Iain, you're having a giraffe mate! Need to get the numbers up or something?

Robin B'stard MP said...

I suffer with depression. My doctor say's it's nothing that a good General Election won't cure.

Personally, i hope Browns' bouts of depression, like mine, take him to some very deep and dark places.

The medication only works for so long, and then the long dark tentacles reach out to drag you down again.......

I'd like to wish him well, but he's not done anything to help me.........he's only driven me deeper and deeper into the blackness.

Anonymous said...

Given what Blair and Brown have done to the country over the last 2 years its a miracle more of us are not on anti depressants.

Everyone is assuming this story is true and the consequences of it are true.

I strongly suspect the opposite. Those of us with an aversion to conspiracy theories should stick to their guns.

Mr Pauls contentions open a new chapter in medical history. You are taking medicine but are well. You are ill when you go in to see the doctor but well when you come out.

Browns problem is that his entire paradigm of how the world can be made to work has been exposed as a load of horlicks. This has left him up a river in Egypt.

Steve H said...

Ironic after the McBride smears against Frances Osborne's mental health.

Anonymous said...

bearing in mind your previous post ... any Government that can let all this ...
... happen has to have something crazy at its heart if not at its head.

"the news that the government wants everyone who gives children a lift anywhere to be CRB checked broke on the same day that it emerged that Haringey council had sent a child to live with the ringleader of the airline bomb plotters is beyond satire"

Elby the Beserk said...

If he were able to show an ounce of compassion to anyone else, I might agree with you, Iain. I don't. He is a truly nasty human being, who is utterly unfit for high office, and it is to Labour's eternal shame that they waved him in as PM KNOWING what a bastard he is, and that they have just sat there on their hands whilst he destroys the country.

Wrong on this one. The man is. barely human.

Rob said...

I do have sympathy and have in the past had depression myself, I haved avoided blogging about this issue because I'm not going to gloat over someone's illness but if it is as serious in Brown's case as it sounds then he does need to leave no.10 as we need a leader capable of making clear and rational judgment at all times.

No. 10 needs to deal with this story quickly. If it is true then he needs to stand down, and an interim leader put in place until Labour can select a permanent appointment. If it is not true then come out and say so, their silence is deafening. And if people in his inner circle are covering this up they should speak out as they are doing him more damage by their silence.

Anonymous said...

No, he does not deserve our sympathy! He is reaping what he sowed.

Anonymous said...

Two thoughts spring to mind:

Is the cause of his depression the clear evidence that he is not up to a job that he has coveted for his whole life?

Would anyone suggest that he should remain in post if he was, for example, an airline pilot and suffering from serious depression?

I sympathise with anyone suffering from depression; I do not accept that, if true, it should shield him in any way from demands that he quits a job for which he is clearly not suited. The well-being of this country, and the prospects of its future generations, never mind those suffering from his policies now, are far more important than artificial sensitivities for one man's mental health.

Anonymous said...

If the rumours reported about Brown's medication are correct, then he is is a very bad way. The MAOI anti-depressants are seldom used because they have been supplanted by newer, more effective drugs with fewer unpleasant side effects.

The fact that he is on MAOIs indicates that his doctors have already tried the more common drugs and they haven't worked.

One of the reasons for his long break over the summer and his insistence on doing charity work may be because they needed time for the new drugs to 'kick in' and patients with depression are often advised to do voluntary work (and exercise) because they has been proven effective at improving a person's state of mind.

My mother suffered from depression - and eventually killed herself. Having seen the condition at first hand for several years, I think that someone with deep depression is unlikely to be capable of making the kind of rational judgements a Prime Minister should be making.

He appears to just be a figurehead PM - propped up to avoid an election.

I don't feel any compassion for him. He has made life completely and utterly miserable for the rest of us and refuses to stand down. I DO feel sorry for his wife and children - and any unfortunate civil servants to have to work for him.

Barnacle Bill said...

Mr. James Gordon Brown maybe worthy of some compassion.
NuLabor Prime Minister Gordon Brown deserves none.

Stepney said...

Sorry Iain but this just isn't good enough. You've missed the point entirely.

If you lot (the pro journos and the political bloggers), in the enclosed political village can't see this as being the Mandy inspired preparation for his, "retirement due to ill-health" by the end of October, then I wonder what the fuck you all do with your time.

This is stage 1 in the exit strategy and you've all fallen for it as being the mental health / drug problem.

No it isn't. It's spin of the highest order.

All of you.

Hook, line and sinker.

Alex said...

Sorry, but if the PM has his finger on the nuclear button, I would rather he would resign.

There are plenty of jobs you can do while dealing with depression. Running the country isn't one of them.

And I don't care about the precedents. they were wrong to hang on to power. The fact that they got away with it doesn't make it right.

Anonymous said...

"If our Prime Minister is indeed suffering in this way he deserves our compassion, not insults."

Not while he's got his finger on the nuclear button and our money... he doesn't. I'm just glad Hitler did the right thing and didn't blame his behaviour on PMT.

snorestore said...

Der, anti-depressants STOP you being depressed. So if he IS taking them, ergo he's not depressed?
What are you inferring here, that's he's a loony on the loose and we should lock him up?
What if he had cancer - but was being treated for it and was expected to make a full recovery? Would you be as nasty then?
FFS learn what mental illness and its treatments are all about before rushing to judgement.

Anonymous said...

Brown has depression. So do I. I have never smeared a rival. I have never lied to start a war, never sent other people to die on my behalf and have never raped the country.

If Brown is depressed, that's too bad. Depression doesn't excuse his record, both as chancellor and as prime minister.

You must face the fact that either his depression is irrelevant, because it has no bearing on how he has done his job, or that his colossal failure at every level is the direct result of his mental illness. If the mental illness is irrelevant to his conduct as prime minister, why bring it up? If the mental illness is responsible for his destructive policies, narcissism and dishonesty, how can anyone possibly suggest that we should ignore it?

john miller said...

Brown is now irrelevant. If the Cameroons are still attacking him, which I don't think they are, they are barking up the wrong tree.

Better focus on the Party's record

Andrew said...

There are two issues: depression and in/capability for the work in hand. For sure depression should be seen with compassion and sufferes not villified. However, from having been close to quite a number of depressives both before and during treament, generally quality decison making that requires fine judgement and timeliness is elusive from the prevailing self-focus and distorted views on the external.

Thomas Rossetti said...

He does deserve our sympathy, and then he needs to be urged to resign.

I've nothing against alcoholics -- they deserve sympathy too --, but I wouldn't want one driving a bus.

Anonymous said...

Someone who is mentally disturbed should not be in charge of a country!

Anonymous said...

Gordon Brown is unfit to be Prime Minister. He is incompetent, he is a bully, he has driven Britain into the ground with has total inability to face reality and make difficult decisions. He has the charisma of a French pissoir, the oratory skills of a humping stag and the personality of a prune.

Ill or not, Brown is no fit to be Prime Minister.

His total refusal to answer the rumours, just as he has refused to answer the challenge to a debate shows perhaps his greatest failing - his inability to accept that he is not perfect.

Ill or not Brown is not fit to be Prime Minister.

Anonymous said...

How likely is this to be an excuse for him to announce his retirement, due to failing health (blindness and clinical depression) at the liebor jamboree.
He'll be praised by all the normal sycophants, everyone will pretend to be sad and say what a splendid chap he is.

He'll toddle off into a wealthy retirement funded by the taxpayer and we'll be expected to forget what an evil (moral compass fixed east-west) thug he is and how none of the liebor mps dared attack him or his evil policies.

Hopefully they'll elected hairperson and jackboots as PM and deputy, with mandy as overlord.

Then spin more lies as they claim a national crisis to delay the election.

Even if true, broon deserves no sympathy; how many people have been harmed by him and his evil party. Robbing the poor to feather their own nests for a dozen years.

If he is depressed that just adds him to the millions he and his scolytes have driven to depression and despair.

True Belle said...

I know you have a generous kind heart Iain, but I am wondering whether 'Our' Prime Minister might have had a reaction to Chivas Regal?

The Oncoming Storm said...

When I read that article on Guido I was reminded of Pierre Beregovoy, the former French PM who committed suicide after suffering a humiliating election defeat.

I don't like Brown for his incompetent handling of the country, but I do not want him to come to any physical harm. If he really is suffering from depression then for his own sake he needs to stand down gracefully and spare himself further embarrassment. Also if he is as badly afflicted as these reports suggest does he sound like the sort of man who could be relied upon to make snap decisions during a major crisis?

Anonymous said...

Am I missing the point? Clinical depression is a condition where the sufferer has a mental state which is significantly out of kilter with his or her situation in the world. Being depressed after the death of someone close to you is very different from having black moods when there is no reasonable or proportionate cause. Both of these states are, in general, to be pitiesd and commiserated with.

However, Brown appears to be an exceptionally unpleasant individual, who has deliberately surrounded himself with equally vile people. He is given to fits of anger, bullying, deviousness, lying (indeed it's now almost the case that most people disbelieve any statement he makes) and as we know from the McBride rvcelations, slander, lies, innuando, backstabbing and smear have been his first courses of action.

He has also proved to be a complete failure at doing first the job of chancellor of the exchequer and then prime minister. Being depressed about being a useless and pathetic failure is neither disproportionate nor, in his case, deserving of sympathy. After the huge harm he has done, and after the manner in which he has behaved throughout his political career, it is not more than a reasonable assessment of his own accomplishments.

Nick said...

Well said, Iain

Raedwald said...

A college lecturer, even one who has penned a tedious tome on Maxton, who struggles with depression in making his classes and attending to his students is to be admired. A college lecturer who in addition to the burden of a depressive mental illness is blind in one eye and on the way to losing the sight of the other and who continues to teach and mentor is more than worthy of our admiration.

However, a man who has bullied, lied, cheated, bludgeoned and manipulated his way to power, a man careless of the consequences if his incompetence, a man with delusions about his abilities, a petulant, violent, abusive and manipulative man devoid of humility who parades his disabilities as just another tool in the armoury of his political gameplan does not deserve either our sympathy or our support.

Sorry, Iain, I think you're off-beam on this one.

Anonymous said...

I will raise a toast to Gordon Brown's poor health tonight.

I hope he hangs himself.

The man is responsible for the deaths of many people. No sympathy whatsoever. Scum.

DespairingLiberal said...

I know this may or may not be true, but I am curious about the attitude of this blog. If someone posted here saying that David Cameron has at one time or another snorted cocaine, you would no doubt censor that article out. Yet apparently you think it fine to speculate that Brown is addicted to pain killers, so long (apparently) as it's on Guido.

Flemingcrag said...

Depression is an illness that many dare not speak off, to those who experience it through their genetic make-up I offer every sympathy.
There are other causes however and these relate to our reactions to the stresses of life; losing your job for instance, the break-up of a relationship and often pressures of work. Whenever the last applies it is always the best action for your personal health and that of your loved ones to give up the stressful job, no amount of sympathy from others will help.
As I recount no stories of Gordon being depressed in his earlier life one has to presume the drive to the top and the effort of trying to stay there is damaging his health. If this is the case and he has competent doctors they will have advised him there is no medicinal cure and they will have urged him to give up the stressful occupation.
I would add my similar advice if stress of work is causing his depression he should get out now and enjoy his wife and the children she has blessed him with before his return to good health is permanently compromised.

Anonymous said...

Yes he desrves compassion.

Yet the reality is that you can run a country with a broken limb or diseased organ. YOU CAN NOT RUN A COUNTRY WITH A BROKEN OR DISEASED BRAIN.

Anonymous said...

The guy has the nuclear codes!

Elby the Beserk said...

@TrevorsDen did you hear the creep on Radio 4 trying to claim that an organisation headed by a government appointed person would be "independent".

Creepy beyond belief. These people are evil beyond belief, and intent on turning is into the 21st Century version of East Germany.

New Labour are to all intents and purposes a Fifth Column, sent in to destroy the country - and succeeding.

wv : virerses, Quite so

Javelin said...

This can be sermon several levels.

Politically - Churchill and Cromwell both lead in times of depression and lost the faith of the country when it needed to be led out. Cameron MUST take the view that the hard work to get us out this mess is good for you and not a pennance.

Psychologically - I think depression is not what effects Brrown cognitively. I believe the term flawed is wrong and that Brown is psychologically FRACTURED not psychologically flawed. A Fractured Ego is a technical term descrIbing somebody whose mind has at a point in the past defended itself from suffering. At the point of defence they can either accept the pain or modify their mind - in the case of fracturing they do both but at different levels. At one level Brown has taken the route in his mind of being BRAVE at the deeper more repressed level that effects his decision making he continues being the COWARD that caused him the pain. Was he bullied and dud his mind fracture in defence.

Unsworth said...

So the operative word is 'if'. And as Brown and his acolytes have spent so many years lying and deceiving, we will never know for certain.

Better safe than sorry, then, and assume it's not so. Thus we can feel free to continue insulting Brown to our hearts' content. Of course if things are as is being put about (and by whom?) he could always step down...

But what I'd really like to know is whether Brown has any genuine 'compassion' for us. I very much doubt it.

Elby the Beserk said...

As far as I am concerned the man is an unredeemed and unredeemable sociopath who is working out the most monstrous chip on his shoulder on the rest of us. Sociopathy for sure is untreatable. The bastard needs removing from office before he does any more damage. He's already inflicted more economic damage on the country than Hitler, and the social engineering dreamed up by him and his henchmen has been a total disaster.

Gloves off time. No "poor depressed Gordon". He's a total menace, and if he has to be straitjacketed out of Number 10, then so be it. I won't be shedding any tears, that's for sure.

Wake up and smell the coffee folks. This man is an enemy of all of us.

Alan Douglas said...

Iain, depression is one thing, mind-altering meds for depression is quite another.

I understand that ALL the mass school killers in the USA and elsewhere were on Prozac or similar.

A person with depression I can tolerate as PM, a person on such meds is dangerous. He needs to stand down if this is true.

Alan Douglas

Wrinkled Weasel said...

I am with Elby on this one.
the man is evil. Depression or not, he is a bastard and a shit.

Joe Public said...

If he wants compassion, let him go to Libya.

That man has ruined Britain & the British people. For generations to come.

Anonymous said...

Yet apparently you think it fine to speculate that Brown is addicted to pain killers,

Liar. Once again DespairingLiberal spreads his lies on this blog.

Dale, I am wholly in favour of free speech but, at some stage, you have a duty to your readership, a duty to excise DL's verbal diarrhoea and his seemingly endless stream of lies.

You either need to start a fund to send this retard back to elementary school so he can do basic reading comprehension or you need to ban him.

Anonymous said...

Alan Douglas

"I understand that ALL the mass school killers in the USA and elsewhere were on Prozac or similar."

Thanks for letting me know I'm a potential mass murderer, Alan. Strangely that's not in the list of possible side effects of my medication.

Anonymous said...

A massive number of replies (to which I am adding my third!) - interesting.

"The MAOI anti-depressants are seldom used" according to Mr Anon. Thats why I am extremely dubious about the story.

All Browns chickens have come home to roost and are biting back (!!). That is the source of his difficulties with the public. He cannot admit to that.

It would be interesting to know how Brown got elected as rector of Edinburgh University because apart from a shoe-in as MP thats the only election he has had to fight.

Smith dying must have been a massive blow to Brown as he was clearly aiming to follow on Smiths coat tails towards the Labour leadership without a serious public fight.
He did not have the heart to fight Blair for Labours leadership and we must assume that he has no relish for the forthcoming election.
Which is funny really since because Blair was despised by his own party in 2005 it was Brown who went everywhere with him to deflect the anger.

Jabba the Cat said...

What is all this compassion drivel. McMental should be sued for making a mess of the UK's finances and have all his personal assets seized and auctioned towards paying off the deficit.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Mr B may well be a sick man - and might be lining up to do a Macmillan, once the party rally is over.

But if he goes, whatever will Cameron do?

Anonymous said...

I have suffered serious depression and on diagnosis I immediately stepped down from my responsibilities as the Chairman of a reasonable sized Group on my own initiative until I and my fellow Directors were comfortable that I was able to operate within the normal emotional parameters required for good judgement. In part this was because it was the right thing to do and in part it was also in my best interests as a major shareholder not to have someone in the throws of depression at the helm of the ship.

I have subsequently returned to post and indeed I have reorganised my life to eliminate some of the aggravating factors that caused the depression in the first place. Had I held on I wouldn't have had the space to look after myself and I probably would have trashed the business attempting to drive it through a fog of rage and misery.

If anyone cared about Gordon Brown they would recommend he steps aside whilst he addresses this very personal issue. He won't get better clinging to the mast the way he is, and the country is in no position to risk leaving him at the helm.

There is nothing to stop him taking a leave of absence whilst a deputy stands in. Please don't let it be Harman or Mandleson.

Auntie Flo' said...

Can't believe you wrote this Iain. The only compassion I'm showing that England hating wretch is to cry my eyes out the day he's sacked.

Auntie Flo' said...

"It would be interesting to know how Brown got elected as rector of Edinburgh University because apart from a shoe-in as MP thats the only election he has had to fight."

His father was rector at Kirkaldy's 425 year old school. His mother was a director of the company that owned half of Insch. His uncle was Mayor of Insch and his family were a large chunk of the local Conservative Association.

Tommy Ball said...

Mr Brown - if he is ill - deserved compassion and understanding. We are, after all, a civilised and decent people.

Mr Brown - regardless of illness or otherwise - deserves our unreserved opposition and opprobium as a result of his coup d'├ętat, his hatred and contempt for the democratic process (who voted for Mr Brown outside Fife? Who voted for someone else to lead Labour? Who voted for him in the Commons to be Prime Minister? Why does he continually slap the face of the people by appointing Ministers who are so despised they cannot win a seat in Parliament?).

Mr Brown can have any illness he wishes and gain our sympathy. But it simply does not take away from the fact that he is an illegitimate Prime Minister with no democratic mandate.

Alan Douglas said...

Anon 9.31

All school mass murderers are on Prozac does NOT equal all people on Prozac are mass murderers.

I commend Anon 11.10's reply to you, he was very sensible.

ALan Douglas

Dimoto said...

So we have a figurehead cheating, lying, incompetent, amoral PM, on anti-depression medication, whilst the real power lies with an (allegedly) sane, cheating, lying, incompetent, amoral arch political manipulator.

We are the ones who deserve 'compassion'.

FireForce said...

I hope he is miserable and suffering like he has made my life!
He has brought nothing but bad to us all, any my fellow countrymen.
The padded cell awaits, one hopes!
Any illness can happen at any time,
but this is self inflicted, sticking his nose in everybodies affairs, governing every aspect of life making living in thiss U.K. a toil, an existece not a life.
Killing my hobbies, killing my fun, killing my life.
I want to emigrate, but no due to illness, no country will let me in on the long term, living in freedom would make my life better, but no I / we have this sctizoid causing problems for us all.

niconoclast said...

Socialism is a mental illness.The only antidote is Capitalism. If your whole ideology is hatred of the achievers and a desire to rob them of the fruits of their labour to give to worthless mediocrities then your slef esteem would be zero and you would have recourse to a chemical cosh to reduce your awarness of your awful depraved mental state.

Anonymous said...

Iain, the problem is that he doesn't cope - he doesn't compare with the others. His psychology is integral to his utter failure in this role.

It's been apparent since Brown became Prime Minister, he has been facing a life-shattering reckoning. This between the man he thinks he is - and parades in speeches with endless references to strategic integrity, courage, morality and his father - and the man he actually is, a dithering, calculating bully and coward.

This cognitive dissonance has been kept at bay in his career so far - at the Treasury he was able to remain aloof and controlling, exposing himself only in set piece speeches and carefully choreographed appearances. Now as Prime Minister, he simply can't do that and the differences between what he thinks he is and what he actually is are in his face every day.

I submit that this unravelling of the psychological defences he used to manage this dissonance is the cause of his depression, and further that the Prime Minister's exit will not be resignation or at the ballot box, it will be a mental health emergency.

Have a look at this argument made in April 2008 here and on the prophetic Brown-out blog more generally, which focussed on Brown's psychology as the basis for his failure and inevitable demise.

Can I claim the Derek Draper prize for psychotherapy now?

Unsworth said...

@ Anon 11:10 PM

'The right thing to do'. I congratulate you for your honourable behaviour and hope that you never suffer a recurrence.

The pity is that although Brown and his henchpersons repeatedly use this phrase it actually means nothing to them. In reality they would not know what is 'right' and what is 'wrong'. All they do know is what is 'Right' and what is 'Left'.

That has led us to where we now are - a morally bankrupt Government and an economically bankrupt nation.

Tapestry said...

fear? whose hand is on the nuclear trigger ?

Anonymous said...

Gordon Brown is an anti-English traitor, may he rot in hell along with his equally inept and anti-English predecessor.

A Tragedy for everyone said...

The tragedy for Gordon Brown is that he became Prime Minister.The tragedy for the Labour Party is that they allowed him to become Prime Minister.The tragedy for the country is that we have Gordon Brown as Prime Minister

English First said...

Compassion, why? This individual, with others is destroying this country from within!

The quicker this liar departs the better! The trouble is we will have another treasonous Tory liar next!

Anonymous said...

Good piece Iain.

These people who dehumanise Brown and other politicians like this (just because they don't agree with) them are demeaning political debate.

Ironic how it's a series of nasty nutjobs who withhold any compassion for mental health problems ;-)

Anyway, how has Brown ruined anyone's life? What ridiculous projection. He's just one local politician in a worldwide credit crunch in which -if we're honest- we've landed softly compared to 1992.

If your life is ruined, look to yourself to do something about it, not some bloke with very little actual power who you've never met

Anonymous said...

Alan Douglas

"All school mass murderers are on Prozac does NOT equal all people on Prozac are mass murderers."

Then why, in the context of this thread, did you feel the need to bring it up? Unless you were trying to plant the idea that just because Gordon Brown might be on similar medication he is a danger due to that medication. It was an irrelevant and nasty aside from you that covers all of us who are on medication like this.

Edwin Moore said...

Very well said Mr Dale. After reading your thoughtful and compassionate blog I went to the Guido Fawkes blog on the same matter and posted

'This rumour has been floating about for a wee while and should be flushed away with assistance, like so many floaters in the bowl.

I have no idea as to the state of Brown’s mental health. As it happens, some of the most effective and humane politicians I’ve come across have often seemed rather troubled individuals, but surely the key thing is that Brown seems to be neither conspicuously humane or effective.

This is an ignoble smear campaign, a whispering campaign that has got louder as its proponents have got braver, and is oddly reminiscent of the SNP whispers against Margo MacDonald a few years ago ‘ ‘She’s not in good health, you know’; ‘Poor Margo, I don’t know if you’ve heard. . .’

The fact is that Margo is worth the rest of the Holyrood pack put together, despite her very real illness, and Brown is not really worth anything, whatever may or be not be wrong with him.'

And damn it finished by saying

'Publishing this was an error of judgement, Mr Dale.'

I immediately corrected the 'Mr Dale' to 'Guido' - sorry!

Chas said...

Reason seems to have parted company with this discussion. People who are ill, physically or mentally, need to be looked after, treated and helped to get better. When people are sick, they are often partially or completely incapacitated, and sometimes have to stop working, temporarily or permanently. Of all the jobs in the country, that of prime minister requires sound judgement, and by definition, a mental health problem will adversly affect one's judgement. It is simply ludicrous to suggest that a severely depressed person, perhaps propped up with the most potent available drugs, is in a fit condition to be the first minister of Her Majesty's government.

To take the counter-argument to its logical conclusion, if it's a reasonable thing for a prime minister to have mental health problems, perhaps we should go the whole hog and elect a paranoid schizophrenic.

50 Calibre said...

If he's mentally ill, and he certainly exhibits most if not all of the signs, then he shouldn't be in No 10. QED

Unknown said...

There are some ludicrous arguments on this thread.

Do people really believe that (and I'm speaking generally not particularly here)as a matter of 'high principle' we should sit back with a mentally unbalanced Prime Minister and let him do whatever his demons instruct him to do because a) Churchill suffered occasional depression and b) we have to show compassion.

What a load of utter, utter nonsense.

If someone is incapable of doing a job because of ill-health, particularly in a job as important as the Prime Minister of a country, then they should be removed from that job.

In fact Iain it was a dreadful post.

Paul Walter said...

Facsinatingly, John Ward posits that Brown is on highly powerful anti-depressants based on a "long list of foods" which a civil servant says Brown is not meant to be served. Interestingly, only two of these foods have been listed by Ward: "cheese and chianti". Which of us haven't had to avoid either cheese or alcohol at one point or the other? Could one have the temerity, before this blows up into a full scale constitutional crisis, to ask what other foods are on this "long list of foods"?