Saturday, February 20, 2010

Gordon Brown's Top Tantrums

We're all eagerly awaiting the serialisation of Andrew Rawnslety's bok in tomorrow's Observer, and I a, relishing doing the BBC News Channel paper review at 11.20pm tonight, followed by the Radio 5 Live on at midnight. To prepare us for the revelations the book will no doubt contain about Gordon's temper tanties, I thought it might be good to refresh our memories about existing account's of the dour one's demeanour.

1. Calling senior aides c***s

Gordon Brown was so incensed at the media coverage of the so-called "snub" of the Prime Minister by President Obama while on a visit to the UN in New York last year, that he bawled out his senior political adviser, the mild-mannered Stewart Wood.
Brown was furious that his spin doctors had "allowed" the story to get legs. Sitting naked in his hotel room he allegedly screamed at Wood: "You're a c***", and proceeded to abuse another member of staff, calling him an "even bigger c***".

2. Hitting an aide

“He is alleged to have reacted angrily when he was intercepted by an aide who asked him to attend to another matter. “According to one account, he punched the male official to get him out of the way” (Daily Mail).

3. Throwing a secretary out of her chair

“The Prime Minister's temper is said to have snapped when the secretary failed to keep up as he dictated a memo to her. He reportedly pulled her from her seat and sat at the computer keyboard himself, bashing out the memo”

4. Being rude at a dinner party with US politicians

Peter Watt wrote of a dinner party he attended at 10 Downing Street hosted by Gordon Brown:
“My wife Vilma and I were invited with three other couples – the lobbyist Jon Mendelsohn and his wifel Louis Susman – a Democratic fundraiser who was soon to become US Ambassador in London – and his wife; and another American couple. “Arriving at the flat, we were ushered into the drawing room and there was stilted small talk over aperitifs. While Sarah pottered around getting the meal ready, Gordon began showing people to their seats but was interrupted by one of the No10 staff, saying he had an important phone call. He disappeared, leaving Vilma and two others seated, and the rest of us awkwardly milling about. After a few minutes, we all started to feel a bit silly, so decided just to sit ourselves down. When Gordon finally reappeared he was aghast to find us all at the table. “I didn't sit you all down,” he exclaimed angrily. It was hugely embarrassing and some of the guests started mumbling about getting up again. ““No, no, you might as well stay where you are,” he replied huffily. He sat at the end of the table and swivelled in his chair, so that he almost had his back to everybody, and leaned his head on his arm. For the rest of the meal he was monosyllabic, sulking because he had lost control of the seating plan. “The plates had not even been cleared when suddenly, without saying anything, he just got up and left. As Sarah had also disappeared by then, we all showed ourselves out. “He's bonkers,” Vilma whispered, as we trooped out. I wanted to disagree but she was right. The whole evening had been utterly bizarre” (Peter Watt – Inside Out))

5. Shouting at Blair: ‘You’ve stolen my fucking budget’

“When Tony Blair announced on a Sunday breakfast show that the Government would like to see health spending rise to the European average, Brown was so furious with the Prime Minister that he shouted at him: ‘you’ve stolen my fucking budget.’” (The Observer, 10th of September 2000).

6. Not telling Tony Blair about the details of his budget

Tom Bower, in his biography of Gordon Brown, wrote about the process behind the 2003 budget: “Two days before his [Gordon Brown’s budget] speech, Tony Blair invited the chancellor to outline his proposed budget. The routine had become familiar. Every year, Blair’s staff would furtively seek information from Treasury officials about the budget. Sometimes they were fortunate and an informant, disobeying the chancellor, would reveal a nugget. On other occasions Brown had worked on his personal laptop to prevent any leak to the prime minister. There was no precedent for such conduct in Britain’s entire history. On this occasion, the chancellor arrived with a senior official. The atmosphere was frosty…To each question Blair asked about the budget he remained impassive until he either nodded to the official to disclose the details, or shook his head. Little was said. Thankfully the prime minister, pre-occupied by the war, did not seek a confrontation.”

7. Stapling his own hand

“There is an apocryphal story that Brown, assembling the notes he takes into prime minister’s questions, does his own stapling. One Wednesday morning, he apparently worked himself into such a nervous state that he drew blood when he accidentally stapled his hand. ” Sunday Times, February 24th 2008

8. Using mobile phones and office equipment as missiles

“The prime minister, 58, has hurled pens and even a stapler at aides, according to one; he says he once saw the leader of Britain’s 61 million people shove a laser printer off a desk in a rage. Another aide was warned to watch out for “flying Nokias” when he joined Brown’s team.” (Bloomberg, 24 April 2009) On one occasion, Brown upset his driver when, in a temper, he picked up his mobile phone and hurled it across the car (Mail on Sunday, 13th April 2008).

9. Having bad news broken to him with a ‘News Sandwich’

“One staffer says a colleague developed a technique called a “news sandwich” -- first telling the prime minister about a recent piece of good coverage before delivering bad news, and then moving quickly to tell him about something good coming soon.” (Bloomberg, 24 April 2009)

10. Kicking a desk over in rage

In November 2007, when he was told that two data discs containing the details of 25 million people had gone missing from HM Revenue and Customs, Gordon Brown ‘was supposed to have been so furious that he kicked the nearest desk, and indeed kicked it so hard that he kicked it over’ (Sue Cameron, Dispatches, 9th of June 2008.

11. Making top aide and good friend Spencer Livermore cry

After Brown bottled the 2007 election, it was reported that he was in such a rage that he made one of his top aides, Spencer Livermore, burst into tears. Livermore left five months later (Daily Mail, 9 December 2007).

12. Spending four hours googling for a quote by Shadow Cabinet member Dominic Grieve

“The stories are seeping out from No. 10. The other day, Gordon Brown was convinced that Dominic Grieve, the shadow Home Secretary, had made such a strong attack on 42-day detention as to impugn his commitment to national security. Although Downing Street advisers trawled and Googled, they could not find the quote. Their boss expressed gratitude for their efforts in the way that a sergeant-major would thank a recruit for a speck of dust on his rifle. Mr Brown then stationed himself at a terminal. For the next four hours, he sat there unavailingly, emanating gloom and rage. The non-psychiatric interpretation of his behaviour is termed “the playing politics with national security syndrome”. ” (the Brute, The Independent, 28 July 2008)

13. Flinging his trousers out of the room in an attempt to find his wallet

Tom Bower’s biography of Brown featured a recollection from an aide from around 1994: “An aide walking late at night along the corridor in Millbank heard grunts and groans from Brown’s office. Suddenly a pair of trousers flew out the door, then there was a crash. Brown was scrabbling through a bag, throwing socks and books onto the floor. “I can’t find my wallet,” he shouted. “I need money for a cab fare to the airport.” His personal disorganisation prompted potential sympathisers to question his ability to lead the party. ” (Gordon Brown by Tom Bower)

14. Throwing computers onto the floor

“His private tantrums, culminating once in a computer thrown onto the floor…” (Gordon Brown by Tom Bower). What others have said about working with him. “It’s disgusting...It’s the ghastly macho culture in there. It’s all willy-waving.” (A female minister in The Spectator, 11 June 2009). “He’s morally bankrupt...If you think you can’t win the argument on substance you end up falling back on political fixes and smears. ” (A cabinet minister in The Times on 5th June 2009). “Publicly, Gordon talks about values and his moral compass, but actually the way he conducts himself behind the scenes is anything but that — it’s brutal....That’s what he does. The last ten years is littered with people who’ve been cast aside. ” (Peter Watt in The Times, 11th May 2009). “Brown has never been known for his composure under pressure. He throws things - telephones, mugs, anything to hand. He screams at people. In short, he loses it and, if your staff are never sure when they might need to duck, they are not going to give you their best advice. And Brown needs all the advice he can get.” (Lance Price, former Labour spin doctor in The Mail on Sunday, 3 May 2009). “The trouble is that Gordon is basically mental. Perhaps he already was, but he is getting worse. He is constantly on the phone and won't leave ministers alone to get on with the job. ” (A Cabinet Minister in The Express, 25 April 2008).

Can they all be wrong? And if they're not, how on earth did the Labour Party allow this man to become PM?


Demetrius said...

David Owen wrote a book on the subject of political leaders who had major medical issues. It is not a happy story.

Twig said...

I think we all suspected mental illness for a long time but the party closed ranks to protect him and themselves from the consequences of going public about it.

We need to put this whole sorry affair to an end and get on with clearing up the mess that he's made.

In future, I hope the government can design some safeguards to prevent any other maniacs getting their hands on the levers of power ever again. Maybe a election should be mandatory within six months of a change of leadership?

We should never be lumbered with an unelected leader ever again.

Gareth said...

Twig said: "In future, I hope the government can design some safeguards to prevent any other maniacs getting their hands on the levers of power ever again. Maybe a election should be mandatory within six months of a change of leadership?"

The nature of Brown's coronation and his boorish behaviour should be immaterial to the running of the country.

What is Parliament for?
What is the rest of his Party for?
What is the opposition for?
What are the backbenchers for?
What are the committees for?
What is the civil service for?

You'd think there weren't any checks on the PM at all but there are plenty. Brown is not a President. Parliament is more mighty than he is or Blair was. FFS don't any MPs have a sodding spine? We saw an all too brief flash of that independence and authority with tail end of Squeaker Martian's reign.

MPs seemed to roll over in 1997 and forget they have a duty to hold the Government to account to protect us from the insidious nature of the State. They just accepted their money and jollies and let the Government run riot. That is why someone who sees everything through a Labour looking glass and cannot put the nation before his own political needs has been able to do so much damage.

DAWilson said...

Iain: Brown's personality according to Carl Gustav Jung:

Cold blooded strategist, loner, theorist who is arrogant, unsocialable, and has a certain disdain for others he considers stupid. Seem to others to be constantly angry, almost hateful. Completely certain in his own opinions, strong willed. Sometimes shamelessly exploited by strong women. Attacked from the unconscious by a primitive extraverted feeling function, which makes him take every criticism, however fair, very personally – and later makes them seek revenge.

He will follow his ideas …… inwards and not outwards. Intensity is his aim, not extensity. In the pursuit of his ideas he is generally stubborn, headstrong, and quite unamenable to influence. However clear to him the inner structure of his thoughts, he is not the least clear how they link up to the world of reality.

In his personal relations he is taciturn or else throws himself on people who cannot understand him, and for him this is one more proof of the abysmal stupidity of man.

The counterbalancing functions of feeling, intuition and sensation are comparatively unconscious and inferior. In most people, as they move towards maturity, those counterbalancing influences are supposed to develop.

Unfortunately, that seems to not to have happened with Brown. And the rest of us suffer.

My Thoughts My Country said...

Gordon Brown sounds like a child trashing his room when he doesn't get his way.

Will he scream and scream and scream until he is sick?

If the rest of the Labour MPs knew what he was like, why did they let him become PM?

Did he bully his way into the position?

Most probably.

Unknown said...

how on earth did the Labour Party allow this man to become PM?

The answer is earlier in your post:

"He’s morally bankrupt...If you think you can’t win the argument on substance you end up falling back on political fixes and smears"

After Bliar bailed on them, the Labour Party went with Brown because:
1. Brown told them that his victory was inevitable (and you know what suckers these lefties are for historical inevitability).
2. everyone knew that crossing Brown on his march to Manifest Destiny would result in the full force of the Brown smear machine coming into play against them.

The expenses scandal alone shows how much dirt is being done behind closed door in Westminster. Now consider how much raw corruption is taking place about which the general public will never find out. Now consider that Brown has a dedicate smearing operation, his own little Stasi full to the brim with tattle-tales, story-carriers and eaves-droppers. Brown has a lot of blackmail material - everyone agrees on this - and he has shown not just a willingness but an active enthusiasm for using it against his enemies (both real and those generated by his frenzied and increasingly paranoid imagination).

If you were a Labour MP, would you want to take the risk of opposing Brown? Would you want to face the hurricane of vileness that he's capable of? How many MPs of any party are so completely whiter-than-white that they don't have something in the closet that can be used to smear them? Precious few. And if something is there which Brown can use against you, he will use it against you.

The Grim Reaper said...

I'm amazed that more questions aren't being asked about Brown's fitness to be Prime Minister in this respect. I'm still waiting for the Daily Mail to print a two-page spread titled "Is Brown going mad?".

Then again, with Broon being a close friend of Paul Dacre, it ain't gonna happen...

Houdini said...

Maybe it's because I don't inhabit the rarefied planet of Westminster, but why hasn't somebody chinned him by now?

Before you condemn violence, this is what in the real world happens to bully's and gobshites.

Anonymous said...

Brown is on TV denying that he has ever 'hit' anybody.

However I do not think that is what he is being accused of. The Mail story you quote says he 'hit out' at an aid. It gives an alternate view as well --- 'Brown merely brushed the official aside in a non-aggressive manner'

This is if I may say so not quite the same and gives Brown wriggle room to make a denial.

Shinsei said...

If any other public sector worker acted like this to subordinates they would, quite rightly, face disciplinary action.

Bird said...

The BBC still revere him:
Today, as on most other days, Radio 4 news bulletins begin with the words "Gordon Brown ...."
Apart from beginning with his name, they nearly always broadcast some fatuous statement he has made that day.
With this blatant name checking or subliminal advertising, Cameron has an uphill struggle to compete.

Mulligan said...

At least the last man who was so unsuited to lead his nation was apprently rather good at playing the violin.

ps the BBC told me to have another look at the policies, and yep, they're still crap.

Andrew Richardson said...

This is my take on the man (from my Grumpy Optimist blog.

Brown displays all the characteristics of a high functioning left brain autistic. This is a brain wiring that no amount of therapy or drugs can "cure". In essence the problem is one of NOT being able to access that part of the brain that can contextualise and modify and so intelligently process what is happening at that time. It is as if the connection between the pre frontal cortex (which is processing current events, experiences and thoughts) cannot mediate these by accessing the REM state part of the brain - or what is now called by neuroscientists the brain's default network. This can lead to great achievements as high functioning autistics can focus and concentrate for long periods (such as on reaching No 10) but have no people skills or think well at all on their feet. These people need routine and hate surprises (such as not being able to implement a dinner seating plan) and often live lives of extreme anxiety as a result. This in turn can unravel in uncontrollable rages - borne of a lack of control (Nokias flying around - get the picture). And anxiety is a close cousin of depression which a REM sleep disorder brought about by a life led at a high level of arousal where REM sleep cannot process the arousal and so deactivate it. Autism is at the other end of the spectrum from psychoses - where the access to the REM state (or default network) is all too easy. Such individuals when highly stressed have, in effect, waking dreams. These are seen as psychotic - after all we all process our dreams as believable and real however odd they are in retrospect.

So Brown, though a bright boy and learning very early in life on how to manipulate and bully, does not have the wisdom, insight and sensitivity to be a PM.

richard.blogger said...

Iain, I take it that you are not a journalist, otherwise you would realise that these are unfounded.

In almost all of those stories the target of the "rage" was "an aide". In other words these people are not actually making the allegations themselves but instead a journalist, try to make their name, uses "lobby" techniques and give no verifiable details. #7 is even termed "apocryphal", so you should not have listed it.

The only one that is a first hand account is #4, and as you well know Peter Watt has a grudge.

Think about this, if your boss displayed the sort of violence that you suggest, you would walk out and consult a lawyer and probably call the police. After doing that you could visit a publicist like Max Clifford or Iain Dale, but only afterwards. The first thing is to get the police involved.

Until I see police charges I will treat these as they are: attempts by political opponents to smear.

Sean said...

I expect there's seldom this much smoke without fire.

However ...

... I strongly believe in positive campaigning. Let's keep on message, our message, set the political pace and let the current government self-destruct.

dazmando said...

'Kicking a desk over in rage' Wow Brown could enter worlds strongest man competition

Vienna Woods said...

Well, Iain, I’ve been down with flu for the last few days and some of my time has been spent trawling the on-line Newspapers as I’ve exhausted my novels and the bloody Spectator’s not arrived again this week.

I’ve just been browsing the Express and they are reporting that Brown has denied very strongly that he has ever hit or pushed anyone during his whole lifetime??? He reckons that he might have thrown a newspaper on the floor from time to time, but that is all! My thoughts now are that it will only take one, or two, former employees who have been on the sharp edge of an assault, to suddenly appear and it’s all over!

The other thing that I find interesting is the Joanne Cash case which has been widely reported in the press. Correspondence reacting to the Central Office “parachute selection scheme” are extremely hostile and my own feelings are that whilst the intention perhaps looked good on paper, it should never have been pushed down the throats of members.

I cannot believe that Central Office have acted so stupidly. It is fairly obvious that someone finally woke up to the fact that the damage was far more serious than first believed, so today in the Conservative press, one or two writers have been attempting to dampen the smouldering ashes by praising Dave Cameron’s selection criteria including an article written by Charles Moore in the Telegraph (for whom I have a great deal of respect!). Judging by the postbag he received I am alarmed that this story is not going to go away quickly and the Conservatives will lose a fair proportion of the active membership and an awful lot of votes.

DespairingLiberal said...

All entertaining stuff but how much of it can really be relied on (given the sources: Daily Mail, et al) is a moot point. Still, some of it must be true.

I have to admit to feeling a sneaking sympathy for him on Point 5 (Blair announcing an off the cuff major budget change on TV) though. Blair was well known for doing these spur of the moment major policies that later turned out to be so much bunkum. Other examples include marching yobs to cash machines and halving assylum seekers in six months. It is also plausible according to many sources that the whole Iraq war commitment was based on an off-the-cuff remark he made to Bush and then could not back down on later. So Big Gordy getting worked up on that is hardly surprising.

In many ways, Blair, despite his long period of popularity (pre-war), was never really up to being PM. He vacillated, engaged in reflex politics, had little real hinterland or understanding of Labour and the left and was by instinct a Conservative. Given that he was leader for a long time when Brown felt he was the Party's Chosen One explains much of it. Once he (Brown) did finally make it, he inherited the war mess.

All in all, 13 years of wasted government time for poor old Grande Brittania.

Unknown said...

richard.blogger: "Iain, I take it that you are not a journalist, otherwise you would realise that these are unfounded."

Erm, you might want to take a look at Iain's bio, Richard.

I presume that you, and the other Brown apologists trying to play down these claims, are instead claiming that, for instance, Tom Bower was lying in his book on Brown? That Rawnsley is lying in his book? That Cabinet Secretary Gus O'Donnell is lying when he admits having to warn Brown over his behaviour, and that Labour MP Stephen Pound is also lying when he confirmed O'Donnell's warning on Sky News earlier?

Guy Clapperton said...

I'm a little concerned that you've reported a story as 'apocryphal' without understanding what the word actually means...

Dave H said...

Gordon's feeble attempt at a defence against these allegations is:

‘If I get angry, I get angry with myself.’

It is obvious, from even the most cursory glance at the many stories concerning his bizarre conduct, that this statement is the opposite of the truth, which of course for Gordon is standard procedure.

All the evidence shows quite clearly that his nature is to take out anger on other people (and indeed things).

When it comes to his essential character, one of the earliest clues was the in the phrase 'big clunking fist'. What other image can that possibly conjure up other than a monstrous bully?

Yet even when he lies about himself, he can't even do so convincingly. How did we end up with this pathetic excuse for a PM?

(Just as damning for Iain's lot, why aren't they >20 points ahead in the polls?)

Dave H said...

@Bird 6:03 PM.

Too true. In the R4 hourly news 'Gordon Brown...' has long become an addendum to the pips.

Unknown said...

We can't have an election within 6 months of a change of leader - that's the honeymoon period.

we need a law that says they *can't* change leader - if they want a new leader, they have to go to the country for a GE. That would a) make the idiots a *lot* more careful about who they choose because they're landed with them and b) in the event that they truly can't stand whoever they've got, they can at least have the guts to let us have some kind of say (and who knows, we might have PR by then and it might actually count)>

Bishop Brennan said...


How's this then. I worked in the Treasury under Brown. I know people he threw phones at. I know he called Blair 'you fucking cunt - you know fuck-all about economics' (to be fair, all true!). I know he threw a chair at Shriti Vadera (perhaps Lord Mandelson should ask his colleagues before denying that Brown is a bully.). Perhaps someone could put in a PQ or FoI request to ask how many computer keyboards Brown has got through?

And remember, this is Brown's way of dealing with people and an organisation who is largely extremely sympathetic to Brown and his politics (a problem for any incoming administration).

To be honest, it makes me extremely angry to read cretins like you defending Brown. Mandelson's bare-faced lying is barely worse. The reality is that Brown has screwed the UK's economy and is not fit to lead a pub band - and his bullying prevents anyone taking action to protect us all from Brown's actions. Only the worst kind of puerile, tribal, party-loyalist would deny this.

Catosays said...

Until I see police charges I will treat these as they are: attempts by political opponents to smear.

Ricahrd....there are simply too many of these tales doing the rounds for them all to be untrue.
Use your common sense...that is if you have any.

Roger Thornhill said...

"how on earth did the Labour Party allow this man to become PM"

Socialism and Statism are about bullying. Mob vs the individual. Force and coercion over persuasion and consent.

The big question, then, is why are you even asking?

Unknown said...

Wasnt it A Campbell who said - before he came over to working for Brown - that Brown was "psychologically flawed"?

That was when he was working for Blair and presumably the pair of them were at war with Brown.

What an appalling bunch! What a way to govern a country!