Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Darling Declares War on Downing Street Bullying

Here's a transcript of Alisatir Darling's interview with Jeff Randall on Sky News. Delicious stuff. He confirms everything Andrew Rawnsley has alleged about how Number 10 treated him. So if Rawnsley was right about that, then it begs the question...

Now that you have faced him down and in some respects called his bluff, has the Prime Minister stopped bullying you?

Well I don’t quite see it that way. I’ve always said that at the end of the day it is up to the Prime Minister who he wants as his Chancellor. Now all of us can have our good days and our bad days and of course Gordon and I have some very robust exchanges, as you’ve just said. I can’t imagine any healthy relationship between a Prime Minister and a Chancellor where they don’t have differences of opinion from time to time. What unites us though is we’re both committed to the same end goal, of getting ourselves through this recession, getting through to recovery and helping this country do the best it possibly can so of course people have their ups and downs and all of us can be guilty from time to time of saying things or doing things that perhaps in the cold light of day we shouldn’t.

I think we all understand robust dialogue and we would expect that but for instance, in the summer of 2008 when you gave that famous interview to a newspaper and you said this is going to be the worst recession for 60 years, weren’t you bullied by the Prime Minister to retract that? Didn’t he try to get you to go back and say it’s not going to be like that?

No, I remember the conversation with him very well and I was a bit annoyed because the story had sort of spun away from what I originally said and both of us agreed that what had not been got across is that I had said we were certainly in for a very profound and deep recession …

And you were right and he was wrong.

Yes, but I also said that other countries would be there as well. But look, every relationship between politicians, especially between number Ten and Eleven, of course there are going to be differences from time to time but I always take this view, of course there’s been some bad days but actually there have been rather more good days than there have been bad days and I’d say the two of us, there’s more than unites us than will ever divide us I think.

There are bad days and then there are dodgy days. After that famous interview the attack dogs were sent out against you, we all know who they are, Damien McBride, Charlie Wheelan and they had a right pop at you behind your back in the press. Are you saying that that wasn’t subtle bullying?

Look, nobody likes that sort of briefing that goes on but I’ve been around long enough, you pick these things out very quickly and the one thing you learn about briefing is that at least one other person knows you’ve done it so it soon enough gets out but frankly …

But you were being briefed against weren’t you? You admit that?

Of course there were people saying things but frankly my best answer for them is the fact that I’m still here, one of them is not.

Ain’t that the truth. Now just on a personal note really, that fruity comment attributed to the delightful Mrs Darling when she realised that you were being stitched up, true or false?

Well I haven’t heard Margaret using that sort of language but when you go through a thing like that, I remember the weekend after we came back and I’d done this interview and the forces of hell were unleashed …

By Number Ten?

Not just them, the Tories as well. The Tories jumped on to the bandwagon as ever and they all tried to join in and of course it’s difficult, especially for the Chancellor. If you’re in politics you have to be thick skinned I think to an extent. Of course you are not immune from the fact that you wish people hadn’t said things or you hadn’t done things but frankly, when I look back at the three years I’ve been Chancellor, okay it was a weekend you could have done without but there was far more important things …

But what a lot of people will not understand is this. Why would the Prime Minister and his henchmen brief against you, one, for telling the truth and two, for being right?

I do not know why the briefers if you like did what they did, one day maybe they’ll explain. What I do know is that yes, unfortunately, and it’s not a great source of pleasure, what I said did turn out to be true as we well know but what is important is yes, you have your ups and downs, yes you have your differences of opinion and a lot of people had different views right at the start of the recession as to exactly what we were going into. The important thing is did we get it right in sorting it out, are we getting it right now and making sure we have got through to recovery and are we making it clear that there is a choice that faces people – but we are going to come on to that no doubt in the rest of the interview – as to which of the two major political parties have got a clear view of what will be in the future.


Anonymous said...

Darling admits Brown is Guilty of Bullying:

"all of us can be guilty from time to time of saying things or doing things that perhaps in the cold light of day we shouldn’t."

Code for Gordon Brown makes people cry, throws mobile telephones at the wall, pushes printers off desks, removes typists from chairs etc etc!!!!

Jimmy said...

"then it begs the question..."

No it doesn't

Bird said...


Is "Instant Rebuttle" Jimmy monitoring you every minute of the day?

Unknown said...

I wonder if Gordon Brown "feels like he has been savaged by a dead sheep"

Jonathan explains it all said...

You overreact *again* Iain. Darling says nothing controversial here. He sticks up for Gordon unwaveringly and only attacks Mr McBride who was sacked so is fair game. What is the scandal here?

Cogito Dexter said...

What a gift to Mr Cameron.

Clearly Darling thinks that it's better to have a strong government than a week one and knowing that Labour's going to lose the next election, wants to make sure it's lost properly!

This should make for a lively PMQs tomorrow! And this is certainly a ball Mr Cameron should run with - an aside about bullying and then go in hard on the economy...


Cogito Dexter said...

Re "What is the scandal"

Doesn't it cross your mind that McBride only did what he did with the full authorisation of Brown?

Intentionally Blank said...

"Jimmy", I wonder, as you seem to disagree with practically everything Iain Dale writes, why it is that you continue coming back.

There seems to be something peculiarly odd about a person who hangs around a blog that they find so disagreeable. Would it not make more sense for you to hang around a left wing blog (or whatever wing you align yourself with) and post positive comments?

I only say this because on the several occasions I have noticed your sniping bile on here, I can't help thinking you must be a sad little tit. I am sure that's not your intent is it? Because affirming that lefties are tits won't endear you or you party to anyone. And the same goes for 'Tory Boys' and all the other house trolls.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for a bit of healthy debate but there's nothing healthy about being the smart arse who pulls girls hair or pinches the older boys until they get a beating.

I'm only thinking of you.

Cynic said...

Oh dear....... Brown's relaunch and new campaign seems to have sunk without trace.

How many times is that now.

I am just waiting until he loses it or hits someone on camera. Now who will be brave enough to provoke it? Paxman?

Jonathan explains it all said...

Re "Doesn't it cross your mind that McBride only did what he did with the full authorisation of Brown?"

Oh, this is reheated old scandal then. Nothing to see here, move along please.

miko said...

I shall say it again - Gordon Brown will not lead Labour in to the General election - it will never happen.

This is part of Mandelson's very careful campaign to eject Brown in the coming weeks.

The drip drip effect will push Brown over the edge.

He spends his days trooping around the media defending the truth about himself - it is so deeply ironic that the only person who can call the General Election is the very man who will never win one!

Andrew said...

Everyone now seems to be admitting to "robust exchanges".
The problem for Brown is that he's the common factor, and this is at last being recognised.

Anonymous said...

No Iain, it does not beg the question (petitio principii), it answers it.

Cynic said...

Gordon says its all lies> he didnt do it.

So we now have No 10 at war with No 11 and clear;ly darlings intervention was calculated to do maximum damage. the truth is that the Cabinet are almost invisible. Its Gordon and Harriet. One who believes he can win and one who believes she can replace him.

Lola said...

Probaly on the money as regards to Brown commnets, but right off the money, talking bollocks actually, about the sol-yew-shuns taken to 'see us through the recession'. Prat.

Anonymous said...

Alistair Darling is brilliant - absolutely brilliant!! He gets to say "I told you so" at the same time as he discomfits the Prime Minister when the PM is at his most vulnerable while looking like a statesman in the process.

Never mind the adolescent thuggery of McBride and Whelan. This is how real politicians get their own back.

PS "Alistair" is misspelled in the first line of your post.

Mr. Musicology said...

Why I struggle to take party politics "bullying" claims too seriously:

1: Mrs Pratt is being represented by Max Clifford now

2: Andy Coulson was taken to court over bullying, where the poor chap was awarded nearly a million pounds in compensation.

Conservative MPs asked that this information be taken out of the summary of yesterdays inquiry into The Sun and "phone tapping" for bring "irrelevant".

Haha! I see. So a proven bully in Camerons top team is irrelevant?

Mr. Musicology said...

"This is part of Mandelson's very careful campaign to eject Brown in the coming weeks.

The drip drip effect will push Brown over the edge."

The last 3 daily polls for The Sun, by Yougov (for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday) have the tory lead at:


3 points down on what it was this time last month.

As much faith as tory bloggers have in this sort of negative campaigning, just like "lettergate", the public seemingly have more important election worries than whether Gordon Brown throws around the occasional cup of tea.

These loonys that Andy Coulson finds, do the tories more harm than good.

How many PMQs on bullying today from Cameron?


Acknowledgment that he'd rather just distance himself from this rubbish now

Jimmy said...

"Would it not make more sense for you to hang around a left wing blog (or whatever wing you align yourself with) and post positive comments?"

I can't imagine anything more tedious. And I don't find Iain's blog disagreeable at all. I'd go as far to say he seems almost normal for a tory, although perhaps a little more excitable as the election approaches and the polls narrow.