Rawnsley impugns integrity of British Prime Minister and Labour twitter Tzar says – too silly for Brown to deal with?

Andrew Rawnsley – who I always enjoy reading on Sundays – has extracts of his new book The End of The Party in the The Observer today. He makes a number of serious allegations about Gordon Brown – summarised in The New Statesman.

The main five allegations:

1. The cabinet secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell – the top civil servant – launched his own investigations into Brown’s bullying of staff. After looking into it, he told the prime minister: “This is no way to get things done”. He took it upon himself to comfort members of staff and tell them not to take it personally.

2. Apparently Brown was consumed by paranoia after the cancelled election in 2007. After hearing about the loss of confidential data discs in November 2007, he grabbed Gavin Kelly, the deputy chief of staff, by the lapels of his jacket, and yelled: “They’re out to get me!”

3. Stewart Wood, a senior adviser on foreign affairs, received verbal abuse when he attempted to brief Brown about a Downing Street reception for European ambassadors. The prime minister reportedly yelled: “Why are you making me meet these fucking people?” before shoving Wood aside.

4. Rawnsley describes an aide cowering in fear that Brown was going to hit him after sharing some bad news while in the car, and writes that “the cream upholstery of the seat-back in front of Brown was flecked with black marks. When having a meltdown the prime minister would habitually stab it with his black marker pen.”

5. The prime minister’s relationship to Alistair Darling is portrayed as tense and troubled. Rawnsley writes that Brown flew into a rage after Darling said in an interview in 2008 that the economic crisis was the worst for 60 years. In a furious phone call, he told the chancellor that the crisis “will be over in six months”.

Gordon Brown refutes these allegationssee The Statesman piece.

There is only one conclusion to be drawn from this.  Rawnsley is not telling the truth and has opened himself to libel proceedings or Brown is not telling the truth?  It may be possible that I have missed something here with this analysis – and some spin doctor will be able to persuade people that both Rawnsley and the prime minister are telling the truth!
So… as I tend to favour the view, for the present (as is my right) that Rawnsley is unlikely to have written and published this material without checking with ‘impeccable sources’ – Brown should sue and have the matter determined by the courts.

He won’t do so, of course.  He will plead, as his Twitter Tzar already has, that he has ‘better’ things to do and will get on with the job.

I am not interested in the hysterical views of bloggers/tweeters/spin doctors – I would just like to see who is telling the truth – because if Brown has done these things it is clear to me, as a Labour voter, that he is not fit to be leader.  I believe that I still enjoy the right, despite being a labour voter, to express my distaste for the behaviour of the prime minister as described by Rawnsley and if it be proved on a ‘balance of probabilities’ that Brown is telling the truth and Rawnsley has libelled Brown – then I will change my view.

Rawnsley has been brave enough to put his reputation on the line – globally.  Is Brown?

And then I had this astonishing exchange with the Twitter Tzar… may have touched a nerve, there…. that’s the trouble with democracy… you can’t always control people or bloggers… and Kerry MP can certainly not control me now… I shall run RIOT!!


And then this came along

OK.. I’ve had my fun… orf to do some ironing…as my irony is not up to scratch….  but I still think Brown should sue if he wants me to believe him!

20 thoughts on “Rawnsley impugns integrity of British Prime Minister and Labour twitter Tzar says – too silly for Brown to deal with?

  1. “There is only one conclusion to be drawn from this.”

    Actually.. there is another. Politics should never be discussed on the Sabbath, or when drink or weapons are either to hand.

    I’m away to Annie O’Tooles for a wee bevvy. I’ll save you a seat at the bar.

  2. Irony in 140 characters? I doubt it … I did like your 45 minute deadline idea.

    Brown has refuted nothing: he has merely rejected the allegations. No proof yet that they were unfounded, as far as I can see.

  3. Er, I’m kind of with @KerryMP on this. From the American perspective, a politician in power suing a journalist? THAT would be bullying! As well as a really bad idea. Even if truly libelous (even by American standards) it would make the politician look petty and powerless. (This comes up from time to time over here; most recently some idiot politician in Florida tried it, and he was rightfully pilloried.) Politicians are also not without other recourse: they have their own pulpits from which to dispute whatever charges they’d like.

    I understand your desire to know whether Rawley’s allegations are true as it informs your opinion on whether Brown is fit to serve. But is Brown’s filing a lawsuit really the only means available for you to evaluate the relative veracity of either’s position? As you note, you DO read the news enough to have some basis of knowing whether the allegations resonate. If you are still unsure about which person is more credible, a lawsuit doesn’t seem like an effective means for fixing that. Rather, it seems more constructive to have an unchilled press able to continue to investigate.

  4. and i’m not sure you were actually accused of any measurable level of silliness. merely sillier than she thought – which could have been not even vaguely silly, negative silly if you will. and anyway as you clearly were being rather silly, she could probably plead justification.
    *grabs charon by the lapels*

  5. SW… I quite like @KerryMP… at least she battles… I was doing what I occasionally do….. ironically, I started by asking a reasonably ‘sensible’ question….

    But…. we are living in weird times….

  6. The individual incidents have a ring of truth about them. The narrative of Brown the Bully’s Reign of Terror… less so.

    Ironically, I wonder if the bullying allegations will provide something of a useful diversion for Brown. The NBH’s credibility is unravelling by the hour, and if Labour can turn this into “politically-motivated allegations of so-called bullying that fell apart the moment anyone looked at them” then they can probably ride out the rather more troubling allegations in the extracts from Rawnsley’s book.

    I’ll also be interested to see what Rawnsley says about more recent developments. My general impression is that Brown has improved over the past year or so, and that the worst of what Rawnsley is describing stems from the period between “the election that never was” and the credit crunch.

    My fantasy election result: Labour fights back enough to become largest party in a hung parliament. Lib Dems make it clear they won’t support a minority Labour administration with Brown in office. Cabinet tells Brown the game’s up. Brown resigns and is replaced by ***dream goes a bit fuzzy here***. Meanwhile the Tories descend into outright civil war, leading to Labour regaining an outright majority under ***insert name here*** in October.

    No? Oh well, worth a try. 😉

  7. Pingback: Law Review: Bullying, skirts, projectile vomiting and torture – a tale of life in modern political Britain. « Charon QC

  8. I have read the extract of Andrew Rawnsley’s book online. I will purchase the book in a few months time when it will be cheaper. I do buy a lot of political books! Like you, I have the greatest admiration for Andrew Rawnsley and have felt this way for many years having first become aware of him when on Channel 4 with the late Vincent Hannah. I have found him to be a journalist of integrity and there are certainly few of them around. I of course was aware of GB’s temper but was most unhappy
    with the response by Lord Mandelson and Harriet Harman with the No10 cribsheet re the PM not being a wilting violet. This was inappropriate. I am not persuaded by any of the comment coming out from No10 – they have not denied the claims made by Andrew Rawnsley and are spinning what was actually made public. They take us for fools. Further, those who are being interviewed to refute the claims can hardly be called objective witnesses. On the World Service last night I listened to a journalist who was once the Scottish Labour Media adviser and today the PM’s political advisor who is leaving No10. Churning out biased supporters does not convince me that there is not a case to answer.

    I am upset that staff at No 10 found it necessary to contact a national helpline. It is wrong for people to say they should have taken the matter up with their employer – this is not always easy to do and can be very intimidating particularly if you are a junior member of staff or the bottom of the pecking order. I was bullied in the workplace many years ago and was frightened of taking action as the person bullying was the head of the organisation. I made sure when I climbed the ladder that all staff felt appreciated particularly support staff. Indeed, it is despicable if junior support staff have been on the receiving end of such behaviour. Further, no doubt many staff who have worked at No10 have enjoyed their jobs in the past and are holding out in the hope that there will be a change in PM.

    The PM has sought to use the media to portray himself as “human”. He can now not complain when the other side of his character as reported by the media is appalling, unstatemanlike, discourteous, arrogant, unbecoming of a PM etc etc. As far as I am concerned the behaviour reported is intimidatory and I would have felt bullied if I had been on the receiving end.

    I do accept that the National Helpline may have been unwise to disclose the employer’s status. I can understand it after listening to the spin yesterday and the likely frustration that it caused. I am also unhappy that a former Home Secretary contacted the charity without permitting the dust to settle. Political action of course – was she too put up to this by No10? Either way she has done herself no favours and indeed my low opinion of her has sunk further.

    I feel a bit let down by other senior Ministers who have known about the character of the PM. Polls may have closed somewhat – the general consensus remains that GB is not popular and as James Purnell stated last year, the Labour Party would be in a stronger postion without him at the helm.

    I think I may be joining those who will not vote for the first time………

  9. In my experience, it is not unusual for the unreasonable to think that they *aren’t* unreasonable at all. I think it’s called denial! 😀

    And there is no way I am going to believe a bunch of people who were peachy keen not so long ago to hide the nasty truth about their expenses. Gosh, it’s that trust thing, again. I just worry that the issue is going to result in people avoiding the ballot in May, saying “why bother?” I’d rather they went to the polling stations and spoilt their ballots – it’s the only way to prove to all the parties they’ve got a long way to go before anyone of us believes them!!

  10. Charon, the world is a better place with you in it whether being silly or deadly serious. Found KerryMP’s dismissive attitude a bit off putting, she could have played along a bit more – would expect a bit more from a social media tzar (whatever that actually is)

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