Andy McSmith's Diary: Fitting way to launch a paean to mad dog Gordon

Our man in Brighton

“To Gordon, the greatest man I ever met,” runs the dedication in Damian McBride’s newly published memoir Power Trip. Yet his description of working alongside Gordon Brown reads like the memoirs of an animal trainer. He describes in some detail the right and wrong ways to negotiate the volcanic moods of the brooding Prime Minister, who shrugged off good news and overreacted to every trivial setback. Riding in the back of a car during a trip to India, McBride had to tell his boss that a comment he made was being interpreted as meaning that he would support England against Scotland if the two teams met in the World Cup.

It was never going to happen, so did anyone care? Yes, Brown cared so much he lifted the enormous pile of papers that were on his lap and hurled it back down, so that “it whacked off the top of the passenger seat in front of him, almost taking the head off the armed Indian bodyguard sat there… Gordon simultaneously let fly a blood-curdling ‘Fu-uck’.”

While the book reinforces all we suspected about Brown’s moodiness and obsessiveness, it acquits him of the allegation that he bullied junior staff. “As enraged and frustrated as Gordon regularly was, he was never violent, bullying or abusive to this staff,” McBride writes.

Ups and downs with Ed

Ed Miliband makes his first appearance quite early in the book. David Miliband, then one of Tony Blair’s advisers, had sent his brother, who was working for Brown, a note saying curtly: “VAT and museums: get this sorted.” McBride was the young Treasury official who got it sorted. When the younger Miliband heard the news “he told his entire office that I was a genius, and kept shouting the phrase ‘You’re a genius! You’re a genius!’ at me as I walked away down the corridor”. Eight years later, the future Labour leader had arrived at a different conclusion, as he ended their working relationship: “I think you’re lying,” he said in despair. “I can’t help it, I think you’re a liar.”

Another ‘friend’ called Ed

McBride is most complimentary about Ed Balls, more so than the shadow Chancellor might like. In 2006, McBride began a romance with a fellow civil servant, Balshan Izzet, which continued for a time after the first bout of revelations forced him out of public life. His friendship with Balls also survived, temporarily. “Despite the severe flak he’d taken over his association with me, Ed Balls would always grab the phone when I was talking to Balshan to ask how I was and what I was up to,” he writes gratefully. This sits uncomfortably with Balls’ claim that he had no idea what McBride got up to in Downing Street.

Hounded TV interview

Stuart Holmes is an eccentric, homeless pensioner who turns up at political occasions to protest about nuclear power. He has been doing it since 1984. During the general election, he leapt on stage when Gordon Brown was speaking.

He arrived in Brighton, spotted McBride being interviewed live on the seafront by Daybreak television, and positioned himself in shot, until he was seized by a “big guy” who tried to drag him out of sight. Both men were soon sprawled on the pavement. This annoyed Mr Holmes’s dog, Stuart, who bit his master.

What Mr Holmes did not know – until I told him – was that his assailant was Iain Dale, a well-known blogger turned broadcaster. Years ago, when stewards at a Labour conference ejected an elderly man named Walter Wolfgang for barracking the speaker, Mr Dale wrote eloquently in condemnation of Labour “control freaks”.

But now he appears to be something of a control freak himself. “I was determined this idiot shouldn’t disrupt what was an important interview for my author,” Mr Dale declared.

Mr Holmes commented: “Mr McBride saw me and didn’t seem to mind. I didn’t make any noise – until I was assaulted.”

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
science
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links