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.

News
people
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
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

RE Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Teacher of Religious Education ...

A Level Chemistry Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: A Level Chemistry Teacher - Humb...

NQT Secondary Teachers

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is actively r...

ICT Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: ICT Teacher - Scunthorpe This r...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence