Gordon Brown, bullying, and what we've learnt about life at No 10

The IoS guide to sifting fact from fiction in the furore surrounding the Downing Street revelations


1. Gordon Brown really does have a bad temper

Rumours had been swirling around Westminster for months: that the Prime Minister had shoved an aide aside; that he had sworn at officials; was fond of throwing mobile phones across rooms. But extracts from Andrew Rawnsley's The End of the Party put flesh on the bones. The back seat of his prime ministerial Daimler is covered in pen marks inflicted in anger. He grabbed Gavin Kelly, an aide, by the lapels and shouted: "They are out to get me!" He turfed a Downing Street secretary out of her chair because she was typing too slowly.

2. Brown didn't hit anyone

There is no claim in the book that the PM ever did. On the eve of publication of the extracts, the PM told The Independent on Sunday any suggestion that he had hit someone was a "lie", while earlier this month The Mail on Sunday claimed Rawnsley was investigating rumours, denied by No 10, that he had "lashed out". An apparent case of Downing Street pre-empting bad news by denying even worse news, so it wouldn't look as bad.

3. Officers guarding the Prime Minister are a bit wimpy

An aide found himself delivering bad news in the back of the PM's car (see above), according to Rawnsley. Brown became angry, raising his fist; the aide cowered. That is understandable: political advisers are not known for their machismo. But when the PM struck the back of the seat in front of him, the occupant of that seat – his protection officer – flinched. They don't make them like they used to.

4. Gus O'Donnell is almost certainly the source of Andrew Rawnsley's story

Rawnsley said his sources were "24 carat" – including the one who informed him that Sir Gus O'Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, was forced to give the PM a "pep talk" about his dealings with staff. The Cabinet Office and No 10 issued three statements on this claim – all denying different things to what Rawnsley had reported, but none knocking down the story completely. Finally, on Wednesday, Sir Gus admitted he had discussed with the PM how to get "the best" out of his staff. In other words: a pep talk.

5. Christine Pratt is a bit of a prat

The Observer made no mention of the word "bullying" on the part of the PM. Screaming, shouting, effing and blinding, yes. So Christine Pratt, the chief executive of the National Bullying Helpline charity, put rocket fuel under the story on Sunday when she emailed the BBC to say her office had received several complaints of bullying from staff at No 10. But her story wobbled when she was vague about how many complaints had come in. Most importantly, she apparently breached the confidentiality of the No 10 callers by going public, and four of her patrons resigned.

6. Alistair Darling has had enough of being maligned by No 10

After a frenetic two days, the story was running out of steam by Tuesday. Then the Chancellor did a live interview with Sky News. A second extract from the Rawnsley book revealed that No 10 officials had briefed against Darling after he warned in August 2008 that the economic crisis would be the worst for 60 years. Jeff Randall asked about this, naming Charlie Whelan and Damian McBride as the culprits. Darling said yes, the "forces of hell" had been unleashed against him. He has been unhappy for months about how No 10 – and Ed Balls – have tried to sideline him.

7. You should never cross Maggie Darling

The extract referring to Darling also shone light on his wife, Maggie. Alarmed at leaks from No 10 that he was facing the sack, she is said to have raged: "The fucking cunts are trying to stitch up Alistair! The cunts! I can't believe they're such cunts!" She was also instrumental in persuading her husband to do the interview in which he gave his 60-year warning, and in telling him to refuse to be moved in the last cabinet reshuffle.

8. Charlie Whelan remains a powerful presence at No 10

Darling, in his interview with Sky News, did not mention Whelan or McBride by name but, in a clear reference, said: "My best answer for them is, I am still here, one of them is not." McBride was forced to resign as Brown's chief spin doctor last year after admitting attempting to smear David Cameron and other Tories. Less well known is that Whelan has been back at the heart of No 10 in a major way for some time.

9. People in the Westminster bubble have no idea what is going on in the outside world

So, all in all a pretty bad week for the Prime Minister, then? All this had no impact on the polls. Five successive surveys for YouGov in The Sun put the gap between Tories and Labour on six points – rather too narrow for many Conservatives' liking.

10. Members of the public want their Prime Minister to be tough

In fact, the revelations had an unexpected consequence: people began comparing Brown to Churchill, himself a bit of a brute in Downing Street. The buzz was that it's a good thing the Prime Minister is tough. He has a lot on his plate. The PM has to vent his frustration somehow, doesn't he?

Brown's week

Saturday, 20 Feb Extracts from The End of the Party by Andrew Rawnsley reveal details of Gordon Brown's violent temper. Brown tells the IoS it is a "lie" that he ever hit anyone.

Sunday Christine Pratt of the National Bullying Helpline reveals that her organisation has received "three or four" complaints of bullying from inside No 10.

Monday David Cameron calls for an inquiry into bullying at No 10.

Tuesday Ed Balls says Brown "upset" by bullying claims.

Wednesday National Bullying Helpline is suspended.

Thursday Charity Commission launches inquiry into the helpline.

Friday Alistair Darling stands by "forces of hell" claims.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
people
News
A boy holds a chick during the Russian National Agricultural Exhibition Golden Autumn 2014 in Moscow on October 9, 2014.
news
Life and Style
love + sex
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United 1 player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
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: 2nd / 3rd Line IT Support Engineer - Managed Services Provider

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 2nd / 3rd Line IT Support Eng...

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot