When I read the charges of bullying levelled against the justice secretary Dominic Raab it raised a wry smile. You call that bullying? Being icy with staff? Expecting high standards? Not recognising Nish Kumar? Instead of facing a KC-led disciplinary inquiry I would promote Raab with a handsome bonus.
If you want to meet real bullies, despots or taskmasters could I suggest you go into the news business. I was certainly one of them.
Being a decent brownnoser during my time editing the Sun, I found agreeing with a raging Rupert Murdoch that I was an incompetent idiot wasn’t always the answer he was looking for. In fact, it would sometimes make him even more angry.
But I did have the pleasure of being able to pass on the rage to colleagues. After all, when things went wrong it was almost certainly their fault – and so I added ten per cent of vileness to the telling-off I received and then moved on. It was like that every day. I kid you not.
If I didn’t receive a decent, and rather clever kicking, about something I felt quite disappointed. On one occasion, Murdoch called from New York. He was incandescent about the paper. I took it for about three or four minutes and then decided it would be fun (and give me a break) if I put the phone in my desk drawer. I walked slowly round the desk, pulled out the phone and he was still shouting. Oddly, I admired him for that. He cared. There aren’t enough bosses who really do.
Patsy Clark, the editor of the News of the World, told me she had a novel way of dealing with the rage.