Bullying

Jim Pickard

Gordon Brown cracked a rather amusing joke during the Welsh Labour spring conference this afternoon. I can’t imagine he wrote it, of course, but here it goes.

“It has been a strange week,” he mused. “The only thing I haven’t been accused of recently is killing Archie Mitchell in Eastenders. For the press here: I promise you, I didn’t even lay a finger on him.” Read more

Hats off to Robert Popper, the man behind the Tangerinegate prank. This blog was the first to report the story of Gordon Brown hurling fruit into a lamination machine. But I’m delighted to say that Jim spotted it was a dubious yarn after hearing it on LBC.

We are nevertheless pleased to have brought it to public attention, not least because of the hilarious Hong Kong tangerine animation that followed. We’re also relieved that no tangerines were hurt in the making of this spoof. Read more

The bullygate animators are back. This time Gordon the fighting CGI puppet is hurling a tangerine into a lamination machine (a dubious tale brought to you by Jim), smashing his computer screen with a keyboard (courtesy of Iain Dale) and flinging his mobile phone (Jim again). Jeremy Heywood, the top Downing Street civil servant, and a copy of the Financial Times also make a brief appearance. Read more

By Sue Cameron, FT columnist. Sue is a former presenter of BBC2’s Newsnight, of Channel Four News and of the ITN Parliament Programme.

The row over bullying at Number 10 is a terrific watch for onlookers but it is NOT news.

It was back in November 2007 in the FT’s Notebook that I broke the story of how moody Gordon Brown had been “tearing strips ” off the Number 10 garden girls and had then turfed one of them off her chair and started typing himself. Read more

The ever insightful Bagehot at the Economist has been speaking to Gordon Brown about his alleged “pep talk” from Sir Gus O’Donnell. Here’s the prime minister’s response:

“The cabinet secretary has made it clear that he’s had no inquiries, there’s been no reprimand, there’s been no private message to me…[The] story is completely wrong.” Read more

Jim Pickard

There will be something coming out within minutes. Things aren’t looking too good for the National Bullying Helpline.

(Still nothing on PA – Widdecombe’s staff were busy writing when I last called them). Read more

Just been looking at the fascinating civil service “people survey”, which asked 340,000 workers whether they had been bullied.

Around 7 per cent of Cabinet Office staff said they had “personally experienced bullying or harassment at work”. No breakdown of how many of them were working in Downing Street. But the self-described victims of bullying do say that “managers” in the organisation are most likely to be responsible. Read more

Jim Pickard

Cary Cooper, a patron of the National Bullying Helpline, resigned this morning at protest at the decision by Christine Pratt – its head – to go public on her allegations of bullying at 10 Downing Street.

I’ve just come off the phone from Mary O’Connor*, another patron, who has also just resigned within the last half an hour. Read more

Jim Pickard

Nick Robinson compares the furore with the war of Jennifer’s Ear

Dizzy Thinks has more on the founder of the National Bullying Helpline. And more details of bullying complaints in Whitehall. Read more

Jim Pickard

Just ran into a Tory MP who believes that bullying prime ministers aren’t such a big deal.

“Eden was a terrible bully, I’m sure that Churchill was as well…and as for Gladstone, well, he had furious rages,” he ponders. “If you want to work in 10 Downing Street you should be able to withstand a bit of tough treatment now and again.” Read more

Jim Pickard

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. Read more