Saturday, 20 February 2010

Gus O'Donnel obliged to tell Gordon Brown to curb his temper

Gordon Brown has had to face a series of claims by former Labour insiders that he presides over a "reign of terror" in Downing Street. The serialisation by The Observer of parts of a new book by Andrew Rawnsley are expected to cause his image further damage just as he starts to pull himself out of deep unpopularity by baring his soul and weeping about family matters during carefully scripted television interviews designed to make him appear more human.

Among incidents investigated by Rawnsley, a serious and respected journalist, were that Brown hit a member of his staff, pulled a typist from her chair when she couldn’t type fast enough for his dictation, and used four-letter words in a rant at aides, including Mervyn King, whilst at a conference in the United States. It is also reported that the Cabinet Secretary (which has a different meaning in England from here) was obliged to talk to him about the way that he dealt with staff. Gus O’Donnell told him to curb his violent outbursts after staff in Downing Street complained to him.

Channel 4 News’s journalist and presenter Krishnan Guru Murthy asked Brown if he had ever hit anyone. He replied: "Let me just say, absolutely clearly, so that there is no misunderstanding about that: I have never, never hit anybody in my life." Fine, that is quite clear, but it is a dangerous statement to make as there may well be someone who is angry enough to call him out on this.

Asked further whether he might have pushed someone, Brown said: "No, I don't do these sorts of things. Look, I was brought up - my father, I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone and I always think when you're - the heat of the moment you say things sometimes.” I’m not entirely sure what that all means but perhaps he’d like to try English, and sentences... just an idea.

He went on: "Of course you do get angry, mostly with yourself. But I'm very strong willed; I'm very determined. I think the country wants someone that will push things forward, and not allow things to be stagnant and stale, and every morning I get up with a determination to do my best for this country. Any allegations that have been made about hitting people or anything are completely untrue." Well, that’s fine. We believe you...... don’t we? No, not really. And what on earth does what the country wants have to do with that question.... why did you bring that up? We don’t want to know what you do when you get up every morning. We want to know if you push your staff around.

In the past there have been reports of the PM throwing objects, including a mobile phone. "I throw the newspapers on the floor or something like that, but please..." he said. Please what Mr Brown? Do you or don’t you throw Nokias around, and if not why are there all these people that used to work with you who say that you do? Why do they hate you so much?


  1. I was impressed with Guru Murthy on Channel 4. I'd expected an easy ride for Brown but Guru did well. I think Brown was surprised aswell. Forced to flatly deny ever being out of control. Which will be shown to be a lie when all the books are published.

  2. Krishnan Guru Murthy is impressive Anon. He beats the pants off Snow in my opinion. I've seen him interview a few people recently and he's like a dog after a rabbit. I'd compare him with people like Jim Naughtie, Sue McGregor, Eddie Mair and John Humphries. I've been more impressed with Evan Davies of late.

    You’re right about Brown lying. I wonder if he will sue, or if he will say that it's beneath his dignity to argue about being made to look like a total nutter while he's desperate to look like an ordinary bloke (and a darling husband).

  3. Do you think Brown might go for a March election Tris ?
    What's to lose ? Polls have him just 6% behind the tories, he would avoid the leaders debates, he would avoid the nightmare figures on the economy due out in April, no pre budget report required, no interview with Chilcott pre election. With total UK meltdown coming sooner rather than later the fact that he might scrape a hung parliament must be amazing news for him. Even Heseltine is now saying a hung parliament is likely. And Portillo is putting the boot in aswell.
    Team Cameron have lost their grassroots support with their preference for carpetbagger candidates ( I'm surprised Mary Scanlon hasn't grabbed a seat yet ) so they will be short of canvassers. I see Daves fag snooty Osborne is offering shares in RBS/ LLoyds banking group to us so that we can cash in when RBS makes profits. An open goal for Labour to highlight the Tory inequality party. Not many folk in Lochee rushing to buy shares methinks.

  4. I dunno Anon. He's an awful ditherer. But you make a great case for it .....

    Cameron and his crew are doing unbelievably badly it would be the right time for Brown to go.

    For that reason I believe he won't. He never does the right thing!

  5. Tris....A reign of terror at No. 10? Seems terribly un-British. (Although the picture you posted certainly conforms to the stereotype of the "dour Scot.") Could it be that Gordon has taken his cue from Mrs. Thatcher's treatment of her cabinet ministers ("the vegetables") on Spitting Image? They got batted about pretty badly.

    Perhaps a PR makeover is indicated for Gordon before the election?

  6. I think he's made a big mistake going on TV to defend this. If he had any stature or dignity he would have ignored it or had one of his hencemen say something.

  7. well you can have a prime minster who may lob the occasional mobile(which in fairness Gordon denys)
    How carrys out a policy to keep as many in work as possible.

    Or you can have Cameron as a Prime minister who may be appear all smarmy and nice. But who is quiet happy(even believes it is the right thing to do). Who will throw millions of people on the dole with all the harrowing consequences that will inflict on the people of the U.K.

    Without a backward glance and with all his loony supporters cheering their heads off until they go into the meat grinder(as happened under Thatcher(

  8. Niko,

    Gordon has not denied throwing the occasional mobile. Perhaps lucrative employment with Nokia is in the offing?

    The stories regarding Brown's temper has been round the Westminster bars for quite some time but, of course, if these stories are not true then this journalist, who has also been round the Westminster bars for quite some time, will be sued.

  9. Danny: As Brownlie says (above), this kind of story has gone the rounds for quite a while. The story about him screaming in anger at Mervyn King (Governor of the Bank of England) dates from 2004 w2hen he was chancellor.

    Long before Brown was prime minister it was rumoured that he was incredibly bad tempered, and a total control freak, utterly unable to delegate and therefore unsuitable for high office..

    But I think there may well have been reigns of terror before at Downing Street. I know you like “Yes Minister”. There are scenes there where the Prime Minister telephones Hacker, and Hacker, a government minister becomes a quivering jelly!

    Gordon is just a better aim with the Nokias....

  10. SR: I think it adds credence to the story. Had it been untrue he would simply have ignored it.

  11. The Anti-Gordon Brigade believe Andrew Rawnsleys version of events....Why?oh why? am i not surprised

  12. Niko:

    It's certainly true that unemployment figures are far lower than would have been expected but one of the reasons for this is that instead of redundancies in this recession, some companies are asking people to work fewer hours, accept pay cuts or freezes. Some people are working only 16 hours a week, some even fewer, and many are on zero hours contract so that they don't know how many hours they will be working.

    Depending on their situations they may well be claiming tax credits to make up some of the money, but some are on the bread line. (16 hours at minimum wage is not a lot more than dole money!

    So whilst this means that people don't suffer the indignity of worklessness, it hardly makes life great for them.

    In the meantime of course Gordon has done nothing about the massive bonuses that bankers and other senior management are paying themselves, and has actually agreed that we don't need to know about people in councils working for us earning over £50,000 a year!

  13. Niko: Because if this sort of stuff was out and out lies, then Brown would have had it stopped, by, as Brownlie says above, suing the backside off Rawnsley.

    You just can't go around publishing books on people telling great big whopping lies about them and ruining their career future and their party's chances of forming the next government and hope that they will just say.... ‘no no it's not like that’.

    They would sue if there was defamation ... and they are not suing.

    Why not Niko? Is it coz Gordon's a nice bloke and wouldn't want to hurt Mr Rawnsley? I don't think so.

    Even if Brown was nice, which I doubt, there are bigger and more important people than he (Mandleson, Campbell), who would have stopped it