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
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football'Mr Marmite' faced the possibility of a 28-day ban
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries are at risk of tinnitus
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
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

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower