A true thug

A very timely column by Stefan Stern in yesterday’s FT on the Bully-boy school of management. I am sure that he didn’t have Gordon Brown in mind when he wrote it (or did he?).

Organisations are made up mainly of ordinary people and most will contain their share of racists, sociopaths and bullies. That’s life. There may not be much we can do about that. But, if the CEO’s corner office is inhabited by a bully who cannot or will not be faced down, that business has a serious problem, culturally and operationally. And when it all ends in tears, it won’t just be those being shed by the bullied victims.

What is true of business is equally true of politics. And if Nick Clegg’s attack on Brown at PMQs today wasn’t bad enough, then how about Stephen Crabb’s. Lloyd Evans, posting in The Spectator’s Coffee House blog says it all (last sentence)

Only one MP, Stephen Crabb, prodded the PM out of his statesmanlike comfort-zone. Crabb had a carefully worded question about reports of ‘bullying in the senior ranks at Whitehall’, a witty reference to press gossip that the Brown volcano has blown its top several times lately and rained brimstone on junior functionaries. Brown was taken by surprise and pulled a strangely eloquent face – flushed, angry, embarrassed, cornered and cruel all at once. ‘Any complaints are dealt with in the usual manner,’ he said coldly, and thus convicted himself in the minds of the public. Only a true thug would pull such a twisted and heartless expression.

The problem is that Labour tribalism is stopping them facing him down. See Nick Cohen’s piece in this month’s Standpoint, Fear and Filth at Brown’s Number 10.

“My ambition is to remain his loyal and supportive deputy.”

Reflecting on Harriet Harman’s protestations yesterday that she wasn’t about to challenge Gordon Brown, and was certain that he was the right man to lead the Labour Party and the country (I have paraphrased what she said, but the gist is there: see the BBC’s video clip) two thoughts came to mind,

the first is that if she really thinks that, she has anyway ruled herself out of contention, were he to go, on the basis of poor judgement; and

the second is that the information that the Daily Telegraph received (and that allowed it to splash the story on its front page) could only have come from the ‘She must be stopped at all costs’ faction withing the PLP, knowing that the revelation would force her to declare her undying loyalty to Brown.

What will be Gordon’s reward?

Gordon Brown quoted in The Telegraph this morning

“We are leading the world in sweeping away the old short term bonus culture of the past and replacing it with a determination that there are no rewards for failure and rewards only for long-term success”  and

“In the future there must be rewards for success – but long-term sustainable success and not just short-term gains”

I am not sure where this rule about rewards for long-term sustainable success will leave Gordon Brown come the next election. Although he may not be wholly to blame for the current state of UK PLC, his years at the Treasury and the policies he then promoted have played a significant part. 

There is a measure of political self-delusion in trying to claim that we are better placed than others to weather this recession/depression; similarly in the argument that he is merely the victim of circumstance.

If he is pinning his hopes on the electorate believing him, then today’s Times/Populus poll  will be a great disappointment.

“Weary, pissed-off and despairing”

So says one senior Labour party official, reported by George Parker in the FT this morning, describing how people are feeling in the party.

I have news for this anonymous Labour loyalist. His words describe exactly how most of us in the country feel about Gordon Brown, and the shambles over which he is presiding. You cannot get more out of touch with reality than Brown’s repeated insistence that he is the best man to lead Britain. On current form he couldn’t lead us out of a paper bag.

The Gadarene swine

I am not sure which was worse: that MPs decided to keep their allowances or that Gordon Brown and most of the cabinet stayed away, and that a number of senior cabinet ministers voted with the troughing pigs. Only five, Yvette Cooper, John Denham, Jack Straw, Des Browne and Harriet Harman voted for the reform of the arrangements.

See Nick Robinson’s post, Heroes to zeroes?.

Not that long ago, a senior Labour MP, no doubt seeking to put a gloss on the behaviour of her fellow MPs, of all parties, remarked that she believed all MPs went into politics determined to make a difference, and help people. It seems that helping oneself first is what it is really all about. But it was ever thus.