I wonder how long it will be before Gordon Brown’s reputation is rehabilitated. Or perhaps he will suffer Anthony Eden’s fate: to be written off so fast and so hard that a contrary position becomes impossible. One thing is absolutely for sure: the tide for the next year or two, while the various figures at the top (and otherwise) of New Labour get their memoirs out, unconstrained by the need to keep a Government together is going to be pretty uncomfortable reading in Kirkcaldy. Take Chris Mullin’s next volume of diaries
– the first lot were terrific fun, if slightly depressing. The next lot, concentrating on Labour’s last years in Government, don’t sound as though they will be on Gordon’s reading list. A few samples:
January 29, 2008.
A graphic account of life at the frenetic court of Gordon, from A Friend In High Places. Rumours of tantrums, harassment of minions, chaotic micro-management and telephone-throwing are true.
Gordon, she says, is perpetually exhausted, constantly micro-managing and takes disagreement personally ('Why are they doing this to me?'). He fires off up to 100 emails a day, demanding answers on every subject under the sun. He is said to have written Chancellor Alistair Darling's pre-Budget speech. On New Year's Eve, with 30 guests waiting for him downstairs at Chequers, he spent the best part of four hours phoning all and sundry about the crisis in Kenya and then, instead of joining his guests, went to bed. By 7.30am on New Year's Day he was back on the phone again.
Lunch with a noble lord, who recounted a tale about an occasion when Gordon was at the Treasury. Apparently he had insisted on tabling a self-congratulatory amendment in the teeth of resistance from the Clerk's Department, whereupon the Speaker had (unusually) refused to call it, resulting in a tantrum.
Later, a Treasury official remarked: 'What you don't realise is that it cost us £2,000 in furniture repairs.
Also, an extraordinary account of a recent visit to the Chinese Embassy to sign the condolence book for victims of the earthquake.
While Gordon and his party were inside, word reached them that David Cameron was waiting outside. Whereupon Gordon, fearing that his limelight was about to be stolen, went into a great sulk, strode out of the embassy, barely acknowledging Cameron.
Once in his car he began pummelling the headrest in front of him, causing his protection officer's head to ricochet, bleating about 'treachery' and 'conspiracy' and demanding to be told: 'Who did this to me?' A hapless official tried to placate him. Eventually the official enquired who was in this conspiracy. To which Gordon, without batting an eyelid, replied: 'The Tories, the Chinese and the Foreign Office.'
Worth remembering that when stories like this were circulating before the election, they were written off by the usual suspects
as the malicious gossip of Tories and nefarious bloggers. Turns out the bugger really was