BBC BLOGS - Nick Robinson's Newslog
« Previous | Main | Next »

The real Gordon Brown

Nick Robinson | 18:02 UK time, Monday, 22 February 2010

So, it's official.

There is no bullying inside No 10. The prime minister was not warned about it and there is no need for an inquiry.

So said the cabinet secretary this afternoon. So, that, surely, is that.

Well, it might be - if it hadn't taken almost two days and three very carefully-drafted Whitehall statements for Sir Gus O'Donnell to make that clear. What's more, his latest statement still leaves open the possibility - the likelihood, indeed - that he did talk to Gordon Brown about his behaviour towards his staff as Andrew Rawnsley still insists.

What's more, the founder of the National Bullying Helpline is still sticking to her story - if more than a little shakily - in the face of criticism about the way she's behaved. Her charity has, she says, had calls about a bullying culture inside No 10.

As a result, the public has heard a good deal more about a pretty open secret in Westminster - the fact that their prime minister has a ferocious temper which some find very uncomfortable to deal with.

Interestingly, after a relentless day in which all sides have fought to secure a political advantage, both the prime minister's friends and his enemies say they want the same thing - for voters to see the real Gordon Brown.

Is that a bad-tempered boss who takes things out on his staff or, like many before him, a leader so passionate and driven that he often gets angry with himself and others? On that, you may not be surprised to know, they don't agree.


Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    This is surely a sign that the Labour press machine is losing control of the narrative. Mr. Brown’s temper is well known and journalists seem to have probed this area of the PM’s personality before but this is the only time the media has been allowed to get into a full frenzy about it.

  • Comment number 2.


    Quote from the Guardian online

    Jonathan Baume, the head of the FDA civil servants’ union, said that ministers’ behaviour too often “fell short” and that he was calling for all parties to sign up to a commitment to tackle bullying.

    Refusing to be drawn into the political row over the claims that Brown acted aggressively and in a bullying manner around his staff in No 10, Baume said: “Too often politicians have little idea about what is acceptable in a modern workplace, and the behaviour of some ministers and special advisers does falls short of what is acceptable on occasions. Every government department has clear and unambiguous anti-bullying policies. In theory these should cover ministers. However, in practice no civil servant is likely to make a formal complaint against a minister. Instead, concerns about the behaviour of a minister will be dealt with through informal channels.

    “If informal action does not succeed then the civil servants concerned generally either have to ‘grin and bear it’ whilst the minister or special adviser remains in office, or seek a transfer.”

    He added: “We should consider putting in place a better mechanism. All political parties could agree that their ministers and special advisers will sign up to departmental bullying codes after the general election, which set out the necessary standards of behaviour, and ask permanent secretaries to enforce codes properly.”

    Baume said the FDA was “struggling” to make progress in introducing an anti-bullying code in the House of Commons. “It is vital that MPs set an example in this area, and we still hope to have a code in place after the general election.”

  • Comment number 3.

    Yes, we'd all like to see the real Gordon Brown. The answer is simple: a live webcam inside No 10 for all to see.

    After all, if you've nothing to hide, you've nothing to fear. Or does that mantra only apply when the government want to spy on the rest of us?

  • Comment number 4.

    It appears that the "charity" in question is rapidly falling apart as three of its sponsors have allegedly now resigned because they do not want to be associated with this rather squalid affair.

    I am not sure why the BBC has been so keen to air the unsubstantiated allegations against people who work in No 10, but is saying nothing about the equally unsubstantiated allegations against the "charity" aired on the Today programme this morning?

  • Comment number 5.

    I would not trust Gordon Brown as far as he can throw his secretary.

    When Peter Mandleson and John Prescott have to give you a character reference, you've got to be pretty despicable.

    For God's sake, vote Brown out in May.

  • Comment number 6.

    Sounds to me like a good day to bury bad news. Anyone got a shovel?

  • Comment number 7.

    Is that a bad-tempered boss who takes things out on his staff or, like many before him, a leader so passionate and driven that he often gets angry with himself and others?

    Both I suspect.

    But, if all the reports are true, aman who cannot control his temper at times.

  • Comment number 8.


    You and others might wish to look at the following:

    along with:

    I think unbiased people will begin to get the picture... :-)

  • Comment number 9.

    Nick .... What is the point of writing this latest piffle?

    To think I have to pay you for all this rubbish through the TV license!

  • Comment number 10.

    The question no-one seems to be asking is with Sir Augustus defending Dr Brown's behaviour to this extent whether he isn't in danger of making his own position untenable in the event of Dr Brown losing the next general election.

  • Comment number 11.

    Yet another "open secret" in Westminster, Nick? Since the public pay your wages, why not do your job of informing them rather than playing along with the cosy insider approach?

  • Comment number 12.

    It should not have been an 'open secret' Nick - you and your fellow lobby journalists should have been reporting it. The character of the PM is an issue - we need to be certain our leader has what it takes to be a leader.

    I a exceptionally annoyed that this bullying issue has not been reported as strongly before this weekend.

  • Comment number 13.

    I was in the USA before GW Bush was elected. I was worried that his reasonable tones and his broad appeal may have hidden a much less liberal intent. Unfortuantely the porgressive American media did not sufficiently question his intentions sufficiently. The current storm about the Prime Minister and his aggressiveness resonates with some of the trickery used by a sophisticated Reublican election machine in the USA. You do not need to have facts on your side to do serious damage. Reerence Titus Oates have we not moved on in four hundred years ?

  • Comment number 14.

    maybe social services should get involved as he clearly has anger issues
    which are an apparent open secret in westmister, to see if he is fit to be around his own children, to pass the same criteria that other fathers and grandparents seem to fail for having a much, much less aggressive behavioural problemss that Gordon, then see if he is denied access too
    and see what his reponse to that would be.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    Firstly, Christine Pratt should know that "going public" has destroyed patient confidentiality that the helpline should be abiding with. When asked today why she spoke out, she spun her answer replying that she had "phoned local radio with concerns about denial and it went from there" - why did she phone local radio? As a result of her insensitivity and suspicious motive, three patrons, including the respected MP Ann Widecombe, have rightfully resigned from the helpine. What is really disgraceful about this story is that real victims of bullying are being put on hold because of desperate journalists looking for details for which they can flog in tomorrows newspapers.

    Politically, being dubbed "bullygate" and "Good Gordon Bad Brown", it is clear that this personal attempt to knock the PM has been fuelled, if not constructed, by the Blairtie/Tory pact in the media that has grown in recent years. David Cameron, who often acts like a playground bully in PMQs himself, benefits on all fronts from this; he has buried the unpopular policy of selling off RBS by undercut shares (which shorthands the taxpayer), and Labour's "give us a second chance" election launch has been overshadowed. Cameron is successfully drawing Brown into the "personality election", enabling him to disguise the Conservatives lack of policies. The PM in Britain is "first among equals" of their other ministers, and therefore the general election is designed to decide the government, not the PM. Cameron is misleading the country, and if he wants to run a credible election campaign, he needs to consider the publication of actual policies, instead of half-hearted "aspirations".

    As for Andrew Lawnsley, the respected journalist, he doesnt seem to paint a picture of "bullying" by the PM, but rather a passionate man cracking under pressure. Shouting, angry and throwing papers on the floor - it can be certain that the real victims of this debacle, who on hold at the moment, have far more troubling issues. Being moody and awkward, Mr. Brown is not an ideal person to lead Labour into the next election, however after analysing Lawnsley's End of the Party, it is an unfair allegation that Gordon Brown is a bully.

    For this story to dominate the headlines, for what looks to be at least three consecutive days, it feels a disproportionate representation of the facts. Echoing Mandelson, this "storm in a teacup" must be put to rest by the Government soon - Gordon has yet to be proved guilty and until then is an innocent man.

  • Comment number 17.

    #2 and how has been in power for the last 13 years to do something about it

  • Comment number 18.

    Reported in the FT February 22, 2010 6:33pm by Alex Barker


    "Just been looking at the fascinating civil service “people survey”, which asked 340,000 workers whether they had been bullied.

    Around 7 per cent of Cabinet Office staff said they had “personally experienced bullying or harassment at work”. No breakdown of how many of them were working in Downing Street. But the self-described victims of bullying do say that “managers” in the organisation are most likely to be responsible."

    So the claims of the National Bullying Helpline are confirmed - by the Civil Service!

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    #2 Civil servants need to get real. In the real world management does shout and scream - it's only in the civil service that people call this bullying and start whining to helplines. I used to be a civil servant but left because most of the people i worked with were useless. I wish my ministers shouted at them more - that way they might have got something done instead of holding meetings, taking sick leave and writing pointless documents. Brown might shout a lot - I just wish others followed his example.

  • Comment number 21.

    I'm not sure that i am that bothered about the character of the PM. Having a temper and passion is no bad thing if he or she is effective. I also think that in certain circumstances he/she may have to be a bully. Sometimes it may be the only way to get things done.

    In my opinion however this PM is most certainly not effective, at least not in a positive way. He has after all lead us into the worst recession of my, relatively long, life. Before his apologists jump to his defense, I do not buy that the recession was "made in America" or that it woz the bankers wot done it. Yes both were complicit but it was he who set up the regulatory system that allowed the worst practices to thrive in this country and eventually bring the banking industry, once the envy of the world, to its knees. It was he who ignored what was going on happy to take the tax yield from an increasingly corrupt and out of control system. It was he who like King Canute proudly declared that he had abolished boom and bust. So let us stop hounding this lady who inadvisedly put her head above the parapet and if you like forget the PM's allegedly bad character, and lets concentrate upon the only issue that really matters at this time - Its the economy Stupid!

  • Comment number 22.

    "Cameron Calls for Bullying Probe" is the headline.

    Surely the Conservatives cannot seriously pursue this.
    No matter how dreadful and thoughtless her actions were, the lady in question is now too old and frail to be taken to task like this.

    Or have I got the wrong end of the stick, here?

    Nope!!!!! On reflection I think I've grasped things adequately.

  • Comment number 23.

    "The cabinet secretary would like to make clear that he has never raised concerns with the prime minister about him acting in a bullying or intimidatory manner in relation to Number 10 staff, let alone giving him any sort of verbal warning."

    If you were not suspicious before you'd have to be after a statemet crafted out of ice over 3 days. Not the simple and unqualified

    "There has been no bullying as far as I know from the prime minister or his staff/ministers".

    " relation to Number 10 staff" What about other staff? Why the qualifier? Who does not count as No 10 staff?

    He personally has not raised concerns but he does not say concerns have not been raised? Raised on his behalf?

    This is a risible statement after 3 days work. Even as a Labour supporter I find this intelligence insulting.

  • Comment number 24.

    GB a bully - surely not he looks more like a victim most of the time. On the other hand would you buy second-hand manifesto policies from this man - when there is a full moon!!

  • Comment number 25.

    It is not only a question of his temper. The fact is that he is reportedly so rude to the little people around him - something I had heard from friends who work in the civil service and which is repeated in Rawnsley's book - is equally unattractive. This surely can't be spun away as the result of his being so "passionate".

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    I smell the farm yard, but I'm not sure which pen needs cleaning.

  • Comment number 28.

    The whole labour culture is built on a solid foundation of intimidation and bullying.

    They briefing against members of their own party which is a more subtle form of bullying, but bullying all the same.

    Remember the labour Johnson and professor Nutt?

    The Postman and the Professor,
    They had a little tiff.
    The Postman took exception when,
    The Professor lit his spliff.

    The Postman hit the bottle,
    The Professor combed his quiff,
    Then calmly floored the Postman,
    With a stunning rhetorical BIFF,

    The Postman lost his Nutt,
    The Professor didn't Miff,
    The Postman spat his dummy out,
    The Professor finished off his spliff.

  • Comment number 29.

    @Swindonan #8

    Thanks for this, when will these people ever learn that there are very few places to hide in this Internet day and age. Conflicts of Interest are always likely to be found out.

    The worst thing is that there probably is a bullying problem from ministers towards civil servants and this problem will be undermined / masked by the conflict of interest that this lady clarly has.

  • Comment number 30.

    And finally to close ....

    I have searched high and low within Downing Street for another angle on this enquiry.
    Fortunately I uncovered a source who was lean and mean and firey.
    Many have had a very tough time putting the squeeze on Gordon Brown.
    But my new source knows the most intimate secrets in all of London town.

    What follows is an excerpt of the latest report: -

    Gordon’s Vest said to his Underpants “Where the hell have you been”
    “You reek of sweat, your threads are bare and you’re stained with something green!”
    Gordon’s Underpants replied to Vest, “Oh I’ve had a terrible week”
    “I’ve been tightly caught in a Prime Ministerial farce, sniffing out a leak.”
    Gordon’s Vest was filled with glee, replying “Do tell the rest of your tail.”
    “You really have my curiosity piqued and I’m keen to follow your trail.”
    Gordon’s Underpants deeply sighed and prepared to dish the dirt.
    But before he got the chance to reply, he disappeared up Gordon’s skirt.
    Vest could hear the muffled sounds of Underpants coughing and spluttering.
    He speculated that his good friend Underpants had been choked on Gordon’s guttering.

    If you guess the moral of this unfortunate tail, you’ll know it has never been so true.
    If you’re careless when you spill the beans, you'll bite off more than you can chew.

    Hopefully we can get a team in there to extricate Underpants safely.

  • Comment number 31.

    So Sir Gus finds it necessary to deny criticising Brown's behaviour ; was this a direct statement from him or a statement made " on his behalf ". Surely Brown himself should come out and deny the allegations if they are unfounded, this would then put an end to the whole affair, or, would this leave him open to being found out as a liar ? Using an accomplished spinner of tales of the calibre of Mandellson demonstrates that possibly our brave leader is once again cowering in his bunker, afraid to face the enemy. Whatever the truth is, like so much that is wrong with this government and the party it represents, it is likely to be hidden until it leaks out after the election when the Labour party purges it's leadership.

  • Comment number 32.

    Even were it proven that allegations of bullying have been made from inside 10 Downing Street, it does not follow that A) those allegations were made against the Prime Minister, or B) whoever those allegations were made against was actually guilty of bullying.

    "As a result, the public has heard a good deal more about a pretty open secret in Westminster - the fact that their prime minister has a ferocious temper which some find very uncomfortable to deal with."

    Indeed, that is the only thing we have learned through all this piffle - the thing we already knew anyway. Perhaps Gordon Brown is a bully. But nobody has thus far substantively proven so.

    There are no verifiable facts at this juncture. There is no substance to this story. It doesn't even rise to the lofty heights of soap opera; it's just gossip.

    Would you mind awfully, sir, if we got back to politics?

  • Comment number 33.

    Here's another Zim classic: -

    This aptly describes the depths to which governement has sank.
    Gordon grabbing and grasping , clawing and gnawing to hold on to power.
    Scheme upon scheme for personal gain at the expense of everyone around him and ultimately the future of the nation.


    South, a moribund, fortress lolls, hewn jagged of blood and stone,
    Sanguine there, dark lord Gordo dwells, scribing schemes we will bemoan,
    The clash of iron, the splash of steel, molten, he hath forged.
    Imbued with all his will and hate and power seized, he gorged.
    His weapons woven, steely lies and slender threads, deceit,
    Gnarly claws deathly grip, for eternity, power’s throne to keep.

    Acheronian is the Dragon Isle, Britannia shamed, bound and laden,
    National pride erased in antiquity, by the deflowering of this maiden.
    The future ponders what will become of this wracked and ruined land,
    An ember of hope, a distant dream, can the people stay Gordo’s hand?
    United then, the lord of lies will be dragged, whining, to his knees,
    Unchained and free democracy will cure Labour’s amoral disease.

  • Comment number 34.

    This is merely part of the Tories 'dirty tricks' that came out on the same day that Gordon Brown had made a major speech. When the likes of Ann Widdiecome decides to resign as well from this charity - the game is alsmost up. The Cabinet Secretary has denied the allegations - no evidence has been presented - just how long can the chief exec of the charity cling on? And will Boy Cameron continue to ask for an investigation? C'mon Boy tells us your policies and stop the dirty tricks like this nonsense and the so-called 'death tax'.

  • Comment number 35.


  • Comment number 36.

    Lest we forget, Gorgo and Mandy were enemies.
    Brief and counter brief flew back and forth as one discredited the other.
    The electorate must make a judgement as to why they are now such good friends - ofcourse self interest and greed couldn't possibly be the motive, could it?
    Let's review one of their past confontations and ponder if history will repeat itself in the light of Labour's imminent election defeat.

    Twas on a bleak all hallows eve that the Gorbro left his lair.
    With sulphurous breath, clacking jowls, lank and licey hair.
    A sickening sob, a retched roar, ripped the solemn silence.
    Confronted, Gorbro stood his ground as the Mandle wreaked his violence.
    They locked their limbs and gnashed their teeth but neither gave up ground.
    Finally the monstrous Mandle sobbed and cowered, a cringing hound.
    Smirking and slavering, the Mandle knew the Gorbro would meet his end.
    From the inky black moonless night, Mandle’s Ministers began to rend.
    Tearing the Gorbro limb from limb Mandle’s ministers leaped and lurched.
    When silence soothed the savage sight ... on Gorbro’s head the Mandle perched.

  • Comment number 37.

    The trouble is after bringing out the big gun (Mandy & co) to back up your side of the storey and then only to be shot down again there’s no to go. It’s hard to believe when Gordon after all it’s all coming from one place No 10?

  • Comment number 38.

    #22 not long before we had a blame it on thatcher poster.

    She has been out of office for 19 years yet if the martions came to earth you would thing that GB was leader of the opposition and that Thatcher was still in power ? which one of schrodingers universe are you in.

  • Comment number 39.

    25. Matt

    "It is not only a question of his temper. The fact is that he is reportedly so rude to the little people around him...... This surely can't be spun away as the result of his being so "passionate"."


    My favourite example of this "passion" was the time when he walked into Number 10 with Barak Obama, and Obama spoke to and shook the hand of the policeman outside. When the policeman put his hand out to Gordon Brown he completely ignored him.

    Good manners cost nothing but Gordy is clearly lacking in this department. Lord knows what Obama made of him.

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 41.

    The real Gordon Brown is..... "A Borrower On The edge Of Time"

  • Comment number 42.

    All very interesting Nick but supposition by Journalists and the press does not make Mr Brown Guilty by kangaroo court.Get your facts right and then say what you mean.Too often I find that the supposed unbiased BBC reporters newsreaders and journalists are exactly the opposite.Its ok for the BBC to say that their constitution does not allow for political Bias.The attitude of these people certainly show as biased and I am not talking "The Devils Advocate"

  • Comment number 43.

    As I wrote in my comment thread yesterday, the British people will make their own minds up as to who's telling the truth about all this.

    The one thing that stands out in the whole episode is that the Establishment is stupid. Stupid, because it believes that we are all naive, asleep or gullible....or all three.

    Let us stick firmly to the history, the form, the testimony and the evidence. It can't ALL be wrong.

    Our grandchildren will look back on these last three years as I look back on 1930s appeasement: the key phrase will be 'How could they ever have believed these people?'

  • Comment number 44.

    "Their prime minister has a ferocious temper"- Nice objective reporting, there, Nick... Glad to see you wouldn't stoop to the emotive drivel of the tabloids...

    And given the ready availability of the questions regarding the character of Pratt and her charity (as highlighted by Mark Easton), why was it left to readers of the story to go the simple length of looking up the charity and its founder on google?

  • Comment number 45.

    So now we know.. Sir Gus says it didnt happen, No 10 says it didnt happen and now Anne Widdecombe resigns in disgust... it must be obvious even to you Nick, Rawnsley was set up and, lets give her the benefit of the doubt, so, probably was Mrs. Pratt... this is a horse that simply wont run.

  • Comment number 46.

    At 6:33pm on 22 Feb 2010, Swindonman wrote.

    "I think unbiased people will begin to get the picture... :-) "

    An unbiased person would also have stated that the launch of the National Bullying Helpline was hosted by a Labour MP (Anne Snelgrove) and attended by many others.

  • Comment number 47.

    The UK is a cursed ship, sailing on a sea of poor management.
    Captain Brown and his first mate Mandle-Foy, land lubbers both, have plans to scuttle the ship so they can claim the cargo for themselves, thus denying a sea worthy vessel to their political enemies the Tories.

    When history is written, this will be known as the sinking of HMS Britannia.

    Spend, Spend, Spend it all, the Labour loonies roar.
    Spin, lie, bend the truth, then spend a whole lot more.
    Snip, slash, cut and gash, accusations hurled at Tories.
    Cringe, fawn, hope and pray the voters believe the stories

    Tall tails, they rarely fail, to sway the great unwashed.
    Smears, jeers, manufactured fears, to see the Tories quashed.
    Mandle, Brown and all the rest have run our ship aground,
    The rising tide of record debt will see our nation drowned.

    Labour laugh and laugh again, if the election the Tories win.
    The poor, posh and pompous fools will inherit Labour's sin.
    Hate, envy and venomous lies, Labour naturally will employ.
    Blame the Tories for all the woes, that's the job of Mandle-Foy

    Let's hope that Cameron and his trusty buccaneers can bring these brigands to justice before it's too late.

  • Comment number 48.

    This whole story has been a storm in a tea cup,media short of a story,grasping at straws.
    When most people have a run in with a bully at work you can have it out there and then, or go away and feel sorry for your self,or go to your manager and have a word, or put your notice in and leave to look for the next bully,but timid fly on the wall types have to go to a help lines,bit like child helps lines, but for adults ,before you jump on me i am all in favour of child help lines they do a wonderfull job.
    Dave Cameron will be kicking the dog this evening just when he thought a bit of mud slinging was about to happen,it,s all gone pear shaped.
    He dident take long to creep out of his hole that he has been hideing in,because he,s run out of things to talk about.

    Never mind dave you can go and hide again and wait for that election in may

  • Comment number 49.

    It remind me of a speech from the 1930 by WSC about a train and now one in charge, very many parrellels today. not that GB is any sort of WSC before the left jump on that one.

    heading headlong into a fincial meltdown created by carcrash gordon
    if he was not such a bully would the trasury have spotted the trouble we were in long ago ?

  • Comment number 50.

    "The cabinet secretary would like to make clear that he has never raised concerns with the prime minister about him acting in a bullying or intimidatory manner in relation to Number 10 staff"

    What about Treasury staff? no 11? He was there far longer? People outside no 10 staff he came into contact with? he does not rule out he's bullied no 10 staff either! Just he has not spoken to him about them yet! He does not rule out bullying at all!

    I really do not see why Labour do not just ignore this. The denials have more holes than a fisherman's net. They act as confirmations of the tenor of the suggestions and suggest that he has been spoken to but the guys would not call it a Verbal Warning in the manner of an official HR one in your docket.

  • Comment number 51.

    @Swindonman, your blogspot link is spot on. The words Final, Nail and Coffin come to mind. Sensible people will disregard the bias waffle of the NBH, featuring both the Leader of the Opposition and Anne Widdecombe on their homepage.

  • Comment number 52.

    I thought Cameron was the bully,after all he,s been bullying Gordon Brown on a personal level to under mine him for the last to years,
    and all in front of the whole country so if he can get away with it,and if Cameron does not think he has been bullying Brown he need,s a reality check.

  • Comment number 53.

    I see the spineless labour moderators are in session tonight.

    Zim's political poetry is just too catchy and may sway the public.

    Maybe Little Lord Mandle-Foy has a hand in this blatant party political biased moderation.

    Or maybe there has been a "Clunking Fisting" by Gordon Brown.

    Well I do know that Sky News will go where the BBC fears to tread.

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.

    Nick, you've got to get a grip. Rawnsley claims (Ch4 news):

    "What I do say is that the cabinet secretary became so worried that he made his own inquiries and then gave a verbal warning to the prime minister.

    The cabinet secretary says:

    "he has never raised concerns with the prime minister about him acting in a bullying or intimidatory manner in relation to Number 10 staff, let alone giving him any sort of verbal warning"

    It's a denial. The cabinet secretary is not going to allow himself to be browbeaten into issuing a denial when he knows its really true. What you need to do is get on to Rawnsley and ask him to name his source.

  • Comment number 56.

    16: "Echoing Mandelson, this "storm in a teacup" must be put to rest by the Government soon - Gordon has yet to be proved guilty and until then is an innocent man."

    Well, it is not that long ago since Mandelson was briefing that Brown was trying to destroy him. Shades of the hypocrite! And had Brown been the CEO of a large organisation he would have been sacked long ago. Selling our gold at the bottom of the market would be one reason.
    Deception over Lisbon would have been another.

    34: "And will Boy Cameron continue to ask for an investigation? C'mon Boy tells us your policies and stop the dirty tricks like this nonsense and the so-called 'death tax'."

    Cameron has only once asked for an investigation. And what else is he supposed to do? Had he ignored this he would have been accused of condoning the possibility that bullying had occurred. Had he pressed it vigourously the Labour trolls who seem to be out in force at the moment would have been even more vicious.

    And Nick Clegg has also suggested an investigation - as a responsible leader of an opposition party should do.

    As for the supposed nonsense about the 'death tax', Burnham has virtually admitted that there is a distinct possibility that Labour will introduce it, so where's the nonsense?

  • Comment number 57.

    More importantly, gilt yields increased 0.25% last week, pushing the annual interest bill up by 3.75 billion pounds per annum once the debt equals 100% of GDP.

    Elections in April: less time for gilt yields to reach levels that would really make Brown look bad.

    PS The flying stapler colliding with mobile phone is a sideshow: a large slice of the electorate is bribed to vote labour, with 6 million public sector employees and a few million people on means-tested benefits and all their relatives voting with their wallets in mind.

  • Comment number 58.

    52. At 8:06pm on 22 Feb 2010, scarlerow

    Are you for real man????

    David Cameron asks Gordon "Clunking Bullying Fist" Brown straight questions requiring straight answers, in the interest of the nation.

    I am yet to hear a straight answer.

    His answers are Tartan Words from a Brown man.... Tartan words.

  • Comment number 59.

    What is the world coming to? I for one would prefer our national leader to sometimes get angry and stamp his feet, when he (or she)feels that the expected service is not forthcoming. In such a pressurised role, surely this is to be expected from time to time? Should the PM pussy-foot around in times of national upheaval / disaster through fear of upsetting a member of staff?? If you don't want to be subject to rants, don't work at No. 10!! Remember Thatcher who was revered by the right for exactly this behaviour? It's also very difficult to take the National Bullying Helpline seriously when their homepage quotes Cameron and Widecombe!!Thankfully Widecombe has seen sense and resigned as a patron.

  • Comment number 60.

    Dear all

    if you are wondering what I have said Mark Easton make exactly the same points on his blogg - I am not sure why I am being repeatedly done for defamation when all the facts I am relating are on his blogg?

  • Comment number 61.

    forceful comments.......excited discussion........quick directions.....misunderstanding of instructions.....but no bullying. I would imagine that tempers are a bit high. Seems to be a number of problems and when the government is covering for the bankers they certainly would feel a litle stressed. Wouldn't think anything out of the ordinary in all this. Angels and Saints don't do well in politics....mainly because of all the Commandments that must be broken..

  • Comment number 62.

    Sir Gus O'Donnell now says he did not have a discussion with Gordon Brown about his behaviour to his staff. If he spoke informally to the Prime Minister, he can deny everything because formally it did not happen and there are no records. The Civil Service is marvellous at this kind of deviousness.

    Christine Pratt was foolish to make accusations which she can never substantiate, and which were a breach of confidentiality. It seems as if there may also be a case of conflict of interest.

    While it is worrying to have a Prime Minister who has given every indication in so many ways of not being up to the job, all this is a distraction from the more important questions of the economy and his part in supporting a government taking us into a war on a tissue of lies.

    The politicians, as usual, are having a field day with their petty bickering and scoring points.

  • Comment number 63.

    The most amusing interview of the day was that of John "Get me a Gin and Tonic" P&O Prescott.

    If ever a buffon walked the earth... we saw evidence on Sky and BBC news today.

    Not the sort of guy you want defending your position.

    Brown must have banged his clunking fist repeatedly on all those around him after hearing Prescott's babbling.

    Oh how I laughed.

  • Comment number 64.

    Dear Nick

    Are you ever going to get round to unbiased reporting. You're a master at condemnation by innuendo

  • Comment number 65.

    "his latest statement still leaves open the possibility - the likelihood, indeed - that he did talk to Gordon Brown about his behaviour towards his staff"

    WHAT!!! How is that possibly true?!

    And I quote - "he has NEVER raised concerns with the prime minister about him acting in a bullying or intimidatory manner in relation to Number 10 staff" (my caps)

    Are you actually saying it's likely Sir Gus is a liar?

    Pratt is not so much discredited as annihilated - she has a charity with no patrons, serious concerns from other related charities and ongoing investigations by the charities commission.

    Nick, surely you're not completely stupid. I think even you must have realised the allegations are false now, no matter how much you want them to have some truth. You have been flogging this dead horse for two days. Give up and let somebody with some objectivity take over.

  • Comment number 66.

    I'd be grateful if Nick could explain to dummies like me why the Cabinet Secretary's comments imply, or mean, or suggest that he did speak to Gordon Brown about his behaviour. It would be helpful.

  • Comment number 67.

    We need a Psychologists perspective on Brown's behaviour.

    Power, violence and sexual gratification are often close bedfellows.

    Is Brown drunk on power, violently holding onto his authority and getting off on it too?

    Maybe this is worth further investigation.

  • Comment number 68.

    This is looking more like a smoke screen by the labour machine to smear anybody but Gordon Brown .

  • Comment number 69.

  • Comment number 70.

    I am not sure that disclosing the fact that no10 staff may have called the helpline was the best thing to do but how will this problem ever get sorted out. You have people like Lord Mandelson stating that no minister would ever allow bullying to be take place unchecked but yet if you look at the staff surveys from the government departments over the last five or so years they all seem to indicate there is bullying culture throughout.

    So who is actually dealing with it?

  • Comment number 71.

    Am I alone in hoping that, as an election draws nigh, we will see those who consider themselves fit to lead this country grow up and treat the electorate with some respect? And that goes for political journalists. Bullying, stage-managed weeping, seeing the man behind the facade? This bullying business is acquiring 'an odour' says Mandelson. Ripe coming from a man twice disgraced. What really smells is the attention given to this kind of tripe at a time when the critical issues of our economic future and the hope for future generations is at stake.

  • Comment number 72.

    It is funny how just before an election this all comes out.
    Mr Brown has been in one of the top, stressful jobs for years and suddenly all this comes out. This really if it was that bad would have come out years ago.

    My conclusion has to be conservative spin. After all it is a election year and who is going to trust what candidates say?

  • Comment number 73.


    Thanks for reminding me. Personally, I do not feel that Labour can win outright in May with Gordon Brown leading their campaign. However, the media need to recognise that it issues, like the economy and Europe that you have mentioned, should decide what the public thinks of the PM, and not unfounded remarks of his personality.

  • Comment number 74.


    I'm not voting labour, and I work in the public sector. In fact, many people I know aren't voting labour!

    The reason being that our voting system doesn't allow such an idyllic choice of candidate. Labour doesn't do so well in Devon - it would be a wasted vote... But come to think of it, I wouldn't vote them if I lived in a city either.

    I do wish non-public sector folk would stop spouting off regarding 6 million people. We aren't all sheep.

  • Comment number 75.

    31 @kaybraes

    Unless you've been away from planet Earth for the last couple of days I think you'll find Gordon Brown has personally, publicly denied the allegations. Gus MacDonald has also denied the accusation Rawnsley made against him, as he undoubtedly should if they are untrue. But don't let those little facts dent your prejudices.

    End of story in any sane world - but not the world of the British news media whose main business appears to be fantasy and embellishment. Politicians who are apt to knee-jerk their mouths into gear while keeping their brains in neutral, demanding inquiries into fabricated events, aren't much better. Given the timing and the Author the whole think reeks of fiction and mischief. Gus MacDonald's statement only serves to confirm it.

    If journalists were actually serious about this they might turn their attention to Andrew Rawnsley and his "24-carat" sources. But they aren't and they won't. There's nothing quite like the news media making a lot of fuss and noise, and issuing a barrage of nods, winks and inuendo to disguise the fact that they have nothing constructive or intelligent to say.

  • Comment number 76.

    I wonder whether Brown's wife felt the need to write him a letter to warn him to stop being so beastly to his officials? That's what Churchill's wife did, apparently.

  • Comment number 77.

    Meanwhile, the slush fund mentioned by Watt has not been "robustly" or "comprehensively" denied.

  • Comment number 78.

    As far as I am concerned ,I do not believe that Gordon Brown is a bully, however I do remember the shocking journalist attacks on Neil Kinnock, in an attempt to smear his character before a general election, and this campaign against Gordon Brown is very very similar.
    I believe that smearing another persons'character in "the name of politics" is the lowest form of politics imaginable and actually tells us more about those involved , than it does of Gordon Brown . Therefore this sort of reporting and chattering would never sway the way that I will vote , . I believe Gordon Brown to be the person who is actually being bullied .

  • Comment number 79.

    Is this the level that political debate has sunk to where BBC and Sky devote 36 hours (and counting) to this? If the election campaign coverage ends up being like this I'll look elsewhere for my news.

  • Comment number 80.

    At 7:54pm on 22 Feb 2010, norfolkandchance wrote:
    So now we know.. Sir Gus says it didnt happen, No 10 says it didnt happen and now Anne Widdecombe resigns in disgust... it must be obvious even to you Nick, Rawnsley was set up and, lets give her the benefit of the doubt, so, probably was Mrs. Pratt... this is a horse that simply wont run.
    So who was flogging this old nag?

    Dave says its nothing to do with the Tories and Mrs Pratt says she never accused Gordon and the two Tory sponsors appear to want to distance themselves from the affair. We need some serious investigative journalism to find that out. The sort who wouldn't publish a story without checking the facts.......This election is going to get very dirty me thinks.

  • Comment number 81.

    Why don't you just drop this story Nick, instead of going on and on.......

  • Comment number 82.

    Brown hides behind that "son of the manse" stuff. As if a pastor's son must be good either through inheritance or environment. (Neither of which aspects he seems prepared to address in the real world.)

    The press reports that, since 1997, we have lost 580 hospitals or clinics. That seems to be over 30 percent of what were available before.

    We've lost 7,500 Post Offices. Seems to be 39 percent wastage.

    Mandelson doesn't like bonuses for bankers, but, it seems that in his own department, hundreds of staff - maybe a thousand - will be paid bonuses. Where does the bonus money come from? Tax.
    I don't like bankers who have been supported by tax-payers but work in a rather strange world where a nothing activity delivers a profit.

    But I have no idea how the Department of Skills and Industry folk "deserve" bonuses I have to pay for, while UK manufacturing implodes.

    How does that work?

    I pay taxes, so that decently qualified people get paid a reasonable salary. Where, on my tax return does it say I should contribute to a "bonus" for people doing their job?

    I see no reason why anybody employed from taxes should be paid a bonus.

    As suggested earlier, if Brown had a bonus scheme, he'd owe us BILLIONS.

    If the Chancellor of the Exchequer was paid a bonus for managing the UK finances in a good way, Brown would have collected for 3 years, while he followed Tory fiscal policy.

    Then have had a "nul points" period, while he racked up debt and withdrew the 10p tax band that helped the poorer people.

    If the guy had a sense of decency, he'd had struggled with Blair and found both of them at the bottom of a gorge.

    Blair summed up his Presidency - sorry PM ship - when he did that "I ain't bovvered" sketch for Children in Need.

    I can believe that Brown was more "serious" than Blair. But just too incompetent to run the Treasury and be a PM.

    I still can't find the full details of how much debt we (tax-payers) have had forced upon us as the result of PFI/PPP deals.

  • Comment number 83.

    A characteristic of a bully is that they are cowards when they have to deal with their peers or those in authority.

    As Chancellor GB often absented himself from meetings of Finance Ministers in Brussels, too frightened to be involved in case they agreed to something which later is found not to be to the UK's advantage.

    On his first visit to the USA he was less than friendly to his host; diplomacy does not come easily to a bully.

    He arrived late to sign the Lisbon Treaty to avoid meeting the other Heads of States and signed in a sulk, having avoided all those earlier negotiations which could have secured amendments.

    He dithers and finds it hard to make decisions, like calling elections. Being found out as 'wrong' is the greatess fear of a bully.

    There are too many traits which have exposed this man as someone with a personality which is inadequate for a Head of State.

    We laughed at the inadequacies of George Bush jnr. Our Prime Minister is also unsuited to high office.

  • Comment number 84.

    The Civil Service is supposed to be impartial - so Sir Gus would be aware of the importance of not trying to 'cover-up' for the Prime Minister of the day. If Sir Gus says there was no 'investigation', then there wasn't. But in the light of these allegations, perhaps this issue now needs to be looked at.

    Brown admits to getting angry and throwing newspapers on the floor "or something like that". Even if these outbursts do not qualify as "bullying", it is surely a matter of concern that he has "a ferocious temper which some find very uncomfortable to deal with". (Nick's words)

    I'm not sure how you legally define 'bullying', but having fits of temper in front of staff who cannot answer back is certainly boorish behaviour. It's odd that Brown's defenders wish us to believe this all OK, nothing to worry about.

    But in the end, there are other issues facing the electorate. Brown needs to be removed from office as soon as possible because of the damage he has done to the country and the economy. An interesting article from John Major is a useful reminder.

  • Comment number 85.

    My suspicion is that he didn't want to fire any inept staff for fear of bringing unemployment levels up ;-)

    But jeez, what opportunists Cameron and Clegg are. Ann Widdecombe however showing her class.

  • Comment number 86.

    #53 Invader-Zim
    Quite right! Where or where would we be without the reporting of the balanced, impartial and selfless Murdoch empire .......

    Have you ever watched Fox news in the US???? That could be the future if we are not careful.

  • Comment number 87.

    Invader Zim,

    Whilst I appreciate the effort you have taken in publishing your "poetry", I feel that you come across as a very deluded and perhaps lonely person. It is clear that you have read The Rotten State of Britain over and over and have based your entire political philosophy on it. You seem to be a paradox; critically paranoid but at the same time amazingly over-confident:

    "Zim's political poetry is too catchy"
    "Here's another Zim classic"

    Your replies show you to be malicious, pompous and dismissive in your views:

    "Making the assumption that you read literature other than the daily sport"

    "I suggest that you settle down and return "tou" Jeremy Kyle or Jerry Springer"

    Your comment about Sky News going where the BBC fear to tread is also laughable. The Rupert Murdoch Empire has it's own clear agenda which involves dumbing down the world through inane, sensationalist right-wing reporting across the globe. Have you ever seen Fox News???

  • Comment number 88.


    Your Sage like wisdom from yesterday

    "No clients details were released, so no breach of client confidentiality.

    Gordon Brown was not a client, so no breach of client confidentiality.

    Totally consistent, despite what you would like to spin."
    "Grow up.

    No personal details disclosed, so no breach of confidentiality."
    And not forgetting..

    "Gordon Brown was not the client of the National Bullying Helpline, so no breach of client confidentiality. Simple.

    Like shooting fish in a barrel."

    Obviously you're still right and the "like shooting fish" not at all arrogant but just wondered if you'd like to revise your opinion?

    Don't worry if not, just refer to the mods.

  • Comment number 89.

    That's it. Switched off. Had enough. I don't believe anything they say. All of them. I used to take the trouble to research their assertions to at least get an informed view of the "choices" on offer.

    I don't do that now. I just study the *exact* words they use to see what semantic trickery they are trying this time. I *always* find something. There is no choice on offer. Politics has superceded good governance.

    Fed up of being treated like an idiot, by idiots. Fed up of outright lies being spouted unchallenged. Just plain fed up.

    Our so-called leaders have trivialised politics to the point of inanity.

    A military coup is starting to look like a good option. But I guess I'll try UKIP instead. At least they promise some tangible actions on the EU that I can judge them on.

  • Comment number 90.

    Perhaps the most bullied man in public office in history gets accused of bullying!

    What irony and what power the media wield over the gullible who swamp the blogosphere.

  • Comment number 91.

    I think the term bullying is open to interpretation at the margins.

    1. Does GB ostracise staff who disagree with him?
    2. Does he insult staff gratuitously?
    3. Does he throw back a 'wee dram' and then say 'What a load of twaddle!' or the like to a Minister whose case being presented might be slightly stronger??
    4. Does he call bankers self-promoting charlatans who'd sell their mother in law to get their Christmas bonus??

    I suspect cases 1 and 2 would be bullying, 3 politically risky and 4 a cause for most to cheer from the rafters....

    I think the issue will come down to this: has he hired more emotionally tender souls than himself but expect them to be as hard-boiled as he is? If so, he's being immature.

    Can he take it as well as dishing it out?? I wonder....

    Does he say 'Sorry!' if he screwed up, before trying to reassert his authority? If not, he's a rude oaf.

    Does he think he always knows best despite making numerous mistakes?? If so, he's delusional. And he's both disrespectful and undermining of his colleagues.

    I don't know the truth inside Downing Street, but it shouldn't take too long to find out.........

  • Comment number 92.

    All we need now is just a little more patience.

    Until this parliament is dissolved this government will continue to use the government machine to quash all truth and dissent.

    It's like being in a stalinist state.

    In a few weeks an election has to be called and all parties will be on a level playing field. Only then will the truth start coming out.

    Let's hope the other parties have all got their strategies worked out because another five years of Brown and we'll all need to be on the happy pills.

  • Comment number 93.

    Here we are, on a day that its announced that a NATO air strike killed upwards of twenty-seven innocent civilians, including women and children, discussing at great length whether or not, or to what extent, Gordon Brown is a bully or guilty of intimidating staff in 10 Downing Street. Its this issue that makes the headlines, not that we are part of a coalition which is killing people

    This is a sick society, where great respect is paid to repatriated bodies of British service personnel, but we spend billions attacking people living in one of the poorest countries on earth and we brush their sufferings aside. Lip service is paid to restraint and rules of engagement, but A10 aircraft fire the missiles.

    The cameras are always at Wootton Bassett, but the military won't let us see the destruction and devastation they are inflicting. Instead, we have BBC correspondents reporting from Camp Bastion, or Kandahar or Kabul. Only 'embedded' reporters are tolerated, and they can only see and report what the Army allows.

    By devaluing the lives of the Afghan people, we are devaluing our own. Let's get our priorities right, and hang our heads in shame. As a nation we are bullies. Its bad for us, and its bad for the rest of the world.

    For the next two months we are going to be subjected to blitz from a bunch of useless politicians from two parties which have made a mess of running the UK for the best part of a century. No matter which of them is elected to government this spring, there are no prospects for improvement.

  • Comment number 94.

    I worked as a civil servant for many years. Bullying is a way of life, regardless of "anti-bullying" policies. Grade carries weight, whether it's unreasonable expenses requests or orders for expensive equipment. One manager ordered a large expensive table because another manager had one. The office has since closed - wonder what happened to the tables? We were regularly told that if he/she wanted anything they got it, in the case of higher grade managers. The Civil Service is expert at denials and anyone hoping to pursue a case of bullying will find little support from colleagues who may have witnessed it. Everyone thinks about the consequences for their own careers. It's common practice for a process to "get rid" of someone to be undertaken eg giving them difficult or boring work, finding fault with everything they do, belittling them in front of colleagues and suggesting jobs they might apply for elsewhere. Tempers erupt when things don't go to senior manager plans, with shouting and bad language the norm. Their anti-bullying and harassment policies are worthless.

  • Comment number 95.

    seem to be different rules for the media, to the people they are so nasty about.When the bullying helpline boss made it absolutely clear this morning on the radio that none of the complaints related to the prime minister,you could have heard a pin drop at the bbc.If the shoe had been on the other leg ,Mr robinson would have been screaming for sackings , being as nasty as he could about Andrew Rawnsley.but Mr robinson hasn't resigned ,or been sacked ,and the bbc has made no apology to the prime minister.The issue now is the credibility of the bbc.Heads have to roll ,for reporting nasty unsustantiated allegations without any attemt to check their veracity.and for failing to apologise.the news dept has become a laughing stock around the world,since mr Robinson turned it into a platform for his tabloid antics and unpleasant personal attacks on anyone in authority.was he bullied at school i wonder.everyday we see total bias on the bbc,no wonder aljaceira has such a high reputation,and is the channel of choice for politicians to be interviewed on.

  • Comment number 96.

    One thing is clear: Labour is finished. They are a national embarrassment. One look at Brown and Mandelson together reminds one of a couple of Machiavellian plotters, looking at every turn to put one over on the British public. Do they we think we are stupid? Mandelson changes his story every day, spin, spin, spin... worse than even Blair and Campbell could come up with. Then Prescott shows up on News 24 like a thug bruising for a fight. We have heard stories for 15 years of Brown's childlike sulks and nasty temper tantrums... is this the man we want to be Prime Minister? Somebody who wants the job that badly, that desperately should never be given it in the first place. Of course neither the Labour Party nor the public were given the chance to vote on who would succeed Tony Blair. I look forward to the look on Gordon Brown's face when he is thrown out by an electorate that never even voted him in in the first place.

  • Comment number 97.

    Nick Robinson seems determine to make his mark on history and be instrumental in the removal of Labour and reinstatement of his alma mater the Tory party. We've got Guido for this sort of one eyed commentary thank you.

  • Comment number 98.

    Gordon Brown a bully? Who knows? Who cares? I am not convinced that the rumours about him are true. Surely someone would have 'leaked' long bedore now that GB was a nasty piece of work if they could prove that it was true. Sadly, we will have lots of these non-stories and false stories in abundance prior to the election. Joy!!!

  • Comment number 99.

    Labour's approach to the bullying claims will result in a spectacular own goal. They could only win this war by discrediting the allegations in the book. But they went for the wrong target - the charity. They have made themselves indeed look like bullies in attacking a charity, but have made no positive gain because the book is still there. Its called a Pyrrhic victory.

  • Comment number 100.

    Brown to me presents as a weak man with too much power. As a voter I feel I am patronised by him and treated with distain and contempt. If this is how he makes me as a voter feel I can't imagine how he treats his staff.


Page 1 of 4

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.