The answer is probably no. Without further proof I don’t believe this one. But a caller to LBC yesterday morning claimed that – while working at a lamination factory last year – he saw the prime minister in his anger hurl a tangerine into a machine. I’ve typed out a transcript below.
The potential damage from stories like this, which can be invented by almost anyone (the caller refused to say where the factory is, when the supposed visit was, etc) is that they fit into a pattern of behaviour which we now accept to be be broadly true. (This blog revealed Gordon’s alleged phone-throwing in early 2008). Thus they can only harm the PM’s reputation, fairly or unfairly.
Yesterday’s articles in the Observer were based on a well-researched book by Andrew Rawnsley, a highly respected political columnist.
Yet separate allegations by the National Bullying Helpline – that some staff at 10 Downing St made complaints – have not been proved. Nor can they be without breaches of confidentiality.
Do I believe this account by “Robin from West Hampstead”? (it’s about 23 minutes into Andrew Pierce’s Sunday morning show, for which you have to subscribe to hear the podcast). No – but it’s worth listening to in its entirety to form your own view. Something about the E.L.Wisty tone makes me very dubious about its authenticity.
Here are the best extracts:
“I have experienced, I have always liked, er, Gordon Brown, I think he’s a very decent man, I’ve had an experience, I’m retired now but last year he visited our place of work, I won’t name the place, obviously, but it was an industrial workshop that made lamination machines, it was to promote British engineering.
“He came along, he was very very polite, I actually shook his hand, but while we were having a tour of the workshop I witnessed his anger sort of eye witness if you see what I mean.
“I received a phone call and I just heard, we knew there was something up because he was saying, no, oh no, please don’t tell me, that happened or is true, something like that.
“……he threw a tangerine which he had, and it hit a machine, the actual lamination machine, and the actual fruit got stuck in the machine and clogged the whole machine, the whole machine broke down because of the peel, and it was very embarrassing, we had to sort of stop the tour and he got even more angry and he called the person that gave him the tangerine an idiot and shouted.
“They sat him down…you could see they were giving him tea and calming him down.
“And then he apologised and afterwards he gave a signed photograph of us which we put up but someone stole. But I have witnessed at first hand, it’s very strange.”
Two particular moments make me particularly suspicious about this . Firstly, why would Gordon be carrying around a signed photograph of the factory workers? and secondly, the words are slightly slurred but if you listen carefully “Robin” almost seems to be saying….”he called the person that gave him the tangerine a citrus idiot.”