Andrew rawnsley

Where Ed Balls went wrong

In today’s Observer, Andrew Rawnsley says that Ed Balls has become a victim of his own success. The Shadow Chancellor predicted the George Osborne ‘would smother growth by cutting too far, too fast…The coalition jeered that Mr Balls was a deficit-denier and an unreconstructed old Keynesian,’ says Rawnsley — as if this has been subsequently disproven. But rather than take a bow, poor Mr Balls has to adjust to the consequences of  Osborne’s failure by admitting even he’d have to administer austerity. So it looks like a concession! Unkind souls like Dan Hodges conclude that ‘Ed Balls is now sleeping with the fishes.’ In fact, Balls is in trouble because his first

The fault-line at the heart of Liberal Conservativism

Andrew Rawnsley has done well to identify the problems the coalition is having deciding its line on national security. His column today is a colourful evocation of the deadlock David Cameron and Nick Clegg face over  control orders and 28-day detention without charge. He calls it “alarmed semi-paralysis”, which is about right. Now they have seen the secret evidence and had the briefings from the intelligence services they somehow don’t feel so liberal any more. It is the sign of a mature democracy that it favours the liberty of its citizens over the control of them. But it also a lot easier to say you would be prepared to take risks

The Filth and the Fury

On the back of Andrew Rawnsley’s revelations, I decided to write about Gordon Brown’s “bad citizens” for the politics column of the Spectator. Under the magazine’s new online rules, this is only available a week after publication. But now you can read the filth and the fury in all its sordid glory.  I have since been approached by one of the players named in the piece to say that I had misinterpreted his concern for my welfare as threatening behaviour.  This, I would suggest, is the whole problem.  

A tyrant surrounded by cowards no longer

Well, the Chancellor’s not for budging. Alistair Darling stands by not “some of” but “all of” his “forces of hell” comments. Martin Bright wrote the politics column in this week’s mag, arguing that opponents are intimidated by the political mobsters surrounding Brown, and who Brown encourages a la Henry II. Martin names Charlie Whelan and Damian McBride as the goons, and Ed Balls is rumoured to be the consigliere.   Peter Watt claimed that Douglas Alexander admitted that most senior Cabinet ministers loathed Brown and his vicarious emotional terrorism, a sense reinforced by Darling’s comments. If that’s the case, why has Brown not been removed? Cowardice is an unpleasant but

Byrne’s cuts deception

Liam Byrne has caught the Brown bug – not for raging in his underpants you understand, but for fiscal conceits. Tony Wright, the Public Administration Select Committee Chairman, called Liam Byrne (and the opposition as well) to task for misleading the public on the dire effects of cuts. Wright may be proved right: frontline services could well be decimated by the cessation of funding. But he missed Byrne’s deception. The indispensible Andrew Sparrow reports: ‘Byrne said that between 1985-86 and 1988-89 public spending as a share of GDP dropped by 8.6%. Between 2011-12 and 2014-15 it is forecast to drop by 5.9%.’ Because Treasury figures have been constantly out, the

Brown v Blair: a comedy

First the tragedy, then the farce: if there was something dark, perhaps shocking, about last weekend’s bullying allegations, then the latest Rawnsley revelations veer towards the hilarious.  They’re centred around Brown’s efforts to oust Tony Blair, and the Guardian covers them here.  I won’t pre-empt your enjoyment of them, except to highlight this passage from the report: “Rawnsley reveals that Brown rang Blair while he was staying with the Queen at Balmoral. He was furious that Alan Milburn, Blair’s close ally, had written a piece supporting the prime minister’s right to stay at No 10. Rawnsley writes: ‘The chancellor’s fury was titanically demented even by his standards. ‘You put fucking

How not to calm the bullying row

Phil Woolas, the immigration minister, probably thought he was being helpful to Gordon Brown by describing Christine Pratt as: “this prat of a woman down in – where’s she from, Swindon?” But, erm, he wasn’t.

Terror on Downing St: The Movie<br />

You think you’ve seen everything, and then Dizzy goes and unearths this Taiwanese news report about Brown and the bullying allegations. The computer dramatisations, from the 35 second mark on, are simply jaw-dropping:

Brown the victim

As Pete points out, the longer the bullying story runs the more chance there is that the public sympathise with Brown, as they did over the Jacqui Janes story. Now Ed Balls is playing the sympathy card for his mentor, saying that Brown has been deeply hurt by these false allegations. Whatever next? Damian McBride breaks his retreat in a seminary and says: “Brown’s the loveliest man I’ve met, never hurt a fly guv, honest.” The preposterous and the distasteful hang above this latest twist, but Downing Street’s spin operation remains terrifyingly focussed. Yesterday saw the destruction of Christine Pratt’s credibility – she didn’t deserve such a barracking but most

The Row Over Brown’s Temper Just Got Weirder

The sight of two unelected members of the legislature and John Prescott lecturing Andrew Rawnsley about political propriety on Newsnight last night was one of the more surreal moments of the past week.  Lord Steel in particular has very little right to the moral high ground as a longstanding member of the board of General Mediterranean Holidings, the company owned by Nadhmi Auchi a British-based Iraqi billionaire convicted of fraud in the French Elf-Aquitaine scandal in 2003. This business of bullying in Downing Street just gets weirder all the time. Whoever allowed the combined might of Downing Street’ spin vultures to swoop down and peck at the bones of the

Not a day to be a Pratt

The unfortunately named Christine Pratt, her husband and the National Bullying Helpline have been completely demolished by one of the most well co-ordinated spin operations I can recall. The charity’s accounts bear no examination. Two Patrons, Cary Cooper and Mary O’Connor, have resigned – disgusted that Pratt broke the charity’s commitment to confidentiality, as indeed was Ann Widdecombe. The Charities Commission have been called in. She’s flip-flopped on her original claims at least twice: initially suggesting that Gordon Brown was a bully, then insisting he wasn’t and then recalling that he possibly might have been. Plainly, her memory of who calls her and what they say is as leaky as

Rawnsley’s indictment of the entire Brown government is lost amid a smokescreen about bullying

Ministers are a fickle bunch. It is striking how many have come out in support of Gordon Brown today; they were much more bashful on the afternoon of the Snow Plot. The government has been galvanised and today is a rare glimpse of what a truly united government might resemble. Cynics would intimate that this sudden cohesion validates Rawnsley’s observations, not only about Brown’s swivelled-eyed rages but also his government’s immediate descent into faction after the election that never was. I’m with the cynics. Rawnsley’s more sensational exposes have masked the narrative of disintegration. It is this – as much as the fact that Labour installed unopposed into office an

How should the Tories respond to the Rawnsley allegations?

As James predicted last night, the ‘Bully boy Brown’ story is now at full steam and will speed on as phone-ins discuss bullying in the workplace. The National Bullying Helpline’s intervention, ethically dubious in view of the charity’s supposed confidentiality, has negated Labour’s damage limitation strategy. Both Peter Mandelson’s line that Brown is a passionate and demanding man and the PR campaign to soften Brown’s image have been blown clear out of the water. Brown has made significant progress recently: David Cameron’s personal ratings have halved since September. That brief resurgence will be reversed as this story rolls. The Sun’s hot-headed frontpage says it all.   Now is the time

Brown faces the Rawnsley revelations, while the Tories face the polls

The question tonight is: which piece of bad news will make the biggest impact?  The bad news for the Tories, or the bad news for Labour? Let’s take the second one first.  I’m referring, of course, to the first installment in Andrew Rawnsley’s revelations about Gordon Brown.  ConHome have already published some snippets – click here – and they give you plenty of juice for your buck.  Not only are there the expected allegations about Brown hitting his staff (much of which seems to have been covered in the Mail on Sunday a couple of weeks ago), but Rawsley also reveals that the Cabinet Secretary, Gus O’Donnell, investigated and reprimanded

Fraser Nelson

In the name of the father | 20 February 2010

“I’m not perfect” Gordon Brown said in his speech today – knowing that, in a couple of hours, we’ll hear details of the many ways he is not perfect, when the first extracts of Andrew Rawnsley’s book are published. He has got his defence in early on Channel Four news. Here is a transcript: Q: You know tomorrow there are going to be a whole slew of new allegations being made by Andrew Rawnsley, so let’s hear about you at work. Do you get angry at your staff? Do you swear at them? Do you throw things? GORDON BROWN: If I get angry, I get angry with myself. Q: Do

Gordon Brown’s Legacy Revisted

No one outside Downing Street can imagine how tense it must be getting in the bunker as the economic situation worsens and the period Gordon Brown has to turn things around shortens. My suspicion is that it is getting very tense indeed. I was informed on Friday that  No 10 was not happy with some of the things I have been writing on The Bright Stuff. We already know that people around the Prime Minster were concerned at the suggestion that they were studying footage of Obama’s apologies. Officials have been unable to identify the person who was asking for this footage I am told. All very mysterious. But then again, would you put your hand