Gordon Brown – a bully or just a strong but imperfect leader?
Cranmer knows a thing or two about bullying.
They manipulate, humiliate, denigrate, undermine, distort, fabricate, lie convincingly and then lie again to cover their lies. And then they project all of their inadequacies, shortcomings and inappropriate behaviours on to their innocent victims with ferocious psychological violence, just to avoid facing up to their own inadequacies and doing something about them.
Bullies are arrogant, audacious, and exert a superior sense of entitlement. They are practised in the art of deception, deflection and obfuscation: if ever they are called to account, they will flit from subject to subject without ever answering the question, and spontaneously fabricate further as the moment requires, knowing full well that further investigation of their additional lies is not likely. And so they continue their vile and vindictive campaign when any official internal process has been summarily dismissed. And they even lie on oath, perfectly convinced of the infallibility of their words and the untouchability of their person. They are impregnable, unaccountable and immovable; perfectly charming in public and before any inquisitor or judge but thoroughly evil in private.
They tend to be superficial and awkward in conversation, though possessed of exceptional verbal dexterity. Their laugh is forced, hollow and insincere. In any discussion in which they sense danger of exposure, a voice may be raised slightly to warn off, speaking may become ‘firmer’, or the conversation will be abruptly terminated. They will alienate the strong employees, often by overlooking them for promotion or recognition, and they will ‘look after’ the fawning and obsequious.
They tend to be emotionally retarded with a pathological inability to empathise; they may storm out of rooms or rant when they don’t get their way. They are prone to mimic, repeat and plagiarise in order to maintain their façade of working excellence and semblance of normality. They cannot be trusted with personal information or confidences, and are likely to use any employee’s weakness (like bereavement or illness) as a means of undermining and destabilising.
Bullies can exhibit an unhealthy obsession with sexual matters: they see everything in terms of sex discrimination, harassment or paedophilia. Any employee they wish to bully can expect to have their morality and integrity questioned and can be made to feel like a sexual pervert. They are profoundly prejudiced (gender, race, religion, sexuality) but present themselves as the epitome of rectitude and fairness.
They criticise without foundation and often behind one’s back. They divide and rule by sharing ‘confidences’ with other employees and then swearing them to secrecy. They poison the minds by manipulating perceptions. Their own sense of superiority persuades them of the orthodoxy of their leadership style and methodology.
Serial bullies despise anyone who enables others to see through their deception and their mask of sanity. And they are programmed to discredit, neutralise and destroy. No-one knows more about bullying than the bully, and so the victim is often accused of bullying the bully by trying to raise a legitimate grievance.
The bully is spiritually dead. They may loudly profess their faith and use all the right words, but their soul is devoid of life. Their invincibility has made them their own god, and God is recreated in their image.
That is the bully. They exist in all walks of life, in all companies, at all levels. They doubtless exist on the Government benches as they do on the Opposition benches. There may be one in Downing Street, and it may or may not be the Prime Minister. And the species might also infect Conservative Party Headquarters.
But exposing and attempting to bring them to account can be a suicidal pursuit.
Now let us examine what Gordon Brown is accused of.
We are told by Lord Mandelson that he can be impatient, gets angry and won't take no for an answer from his staff: "He doesn't bully people - I don't think he so much bullies people as is very demanding of people around him.... He will go on and on until he's got a policy or an idea that can go on.”
"There is a degree of impatience about the man but what do you want - a shrinking violet?"
Asked on the BBC whether he has been hit by the Prime Minister, Lord Mandelson suggested they had been in ‘metaphorical’ combat, saying: "I think it's true we've had our moments."
Andrew Rawnsley’s book alleges that the Cabinet Secretary became so alarmed by the Prime Minister's behaviour that he issued a verbal warning.
This has been denied this morning in a statement from the Cabinet Office.
The Prime Minister is also accused of throwing a secretary out of her seat when he judged she was not typing fast enough; of grabbing his deputy chief of staff by the lapels; of thumping the back of the passenger seat of his official car in rage; and of throwing mobile phones and printers across the room.
There is more here, here, here and here.
And we heard yesterday from ITN’s Lucy Manning yesterday that the Chief Executive of the National Bullying Helpline has told her that they have received ‘several calls from staff at Downing Street complaining about bullying culture’.
As much as Cranmer loathes this tawdry Labour Government and is appalled by what Gordon Brown has inflicted upon the nation and its people, the allegations made by inter alia Andrew Rawnsley, which, it must be observed, are all unsubstantiated, do not constitute the profile of the serial bully. Certainly, Mr Brown may have psychological flaws and character faults. He may be prone to impatience and severe bouts of depression. He may be very demanding of his staff and occasionally shout or express his anger and frustration. And he may not always express himself appropriately or at least in a manner by which an issue may be resolved or defused.
But when one reads the biographies of Benjamin Disraeli, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, it is apparent that they all could be similarly accused.
Let us not mistake the malicious, manipulative and malevolent bully for the imperfect leader whose motives are essentially good, noble and honourable.