Gordon Brown’s love of pre-dawn emails is legendary. But I don’t think anyone imagined they were about mosquito nets. Here’s the passage from the US embassy cable:
The prime minister is personally engaged on assistance issues, Dinham [a senior civil servant] noted. It is not unusual, he said, for DFID officials to receive emails sent before dawn from the prime minister, inquiring about bed net programs to combat malaria, or sharing his latest idea on education programs.
The thing to remember is that this wasn’t just a case of Brown firing off his emails directly. Before being sent, a lot of his messages had to be deciphered from Brownese, a strange Scottish dialect written in caps that often includes anagrams in sentences.
There was apparently one man in Downing Street who excelled in understanding the code, a civil servant rightly lionised for his patience and skill. Just imagine the potential for Brown to mangle the word mosquito, especially when a few extra letters are added to the anagram.
He was truly a one-man Bletchley Park for the Brown era. As the US embassy cable shows, he was working his magic in the early hours too. Others courageously laboured over Brown texts but I’m told that this man in particular deserves a medal. We won’t name him — just think of him as the unknown civil servant. Now his once-essential skill is somewhat redundant, let’s all hope he survives the great Whitehall efficiency drive.