First, a confession. It seems I am in some circumstances a bully. Unfortunately, in order to explore the phenomenon, I shall have to resort to the language of the military. Analogies will be stretched, nokias will be hurled, and it may help you if you imagine me naked on a hotel room chair, barking dictation at a Grade 7 i’ve commandeered as a typist.
My natural debating style is more than a little vicious. My opening salvo, when it’s on target, is a little like a couple of thousand rounds from a Squad Assault Weapon, seeking to do little more than keep the head of the opponent down while I target the key point he or she made. Then, if the opponent isn’t cowed, I tend to let rip with the personal arguments. Schrapnel of ad-hominem attacks fall, before I eventually decide whether to call the opponent a fascist or a communist.
It’s not a nice tactic, it’s not pretty and it’s apt to make onlookers consider me a dreadful prick. On the other hand, it’s often bloody effective. Much better that the opponent backs down early than I have to continue with the beasting.
I make the confession because, when I discovered the foible, when it was made clear to me, I began to take steps to moderate it. Admitting I had a problem was the first step to ending the negative behaviour. It was the most psychologically healthy thing I could do, and it was a tremendous wrench.
What’s happening in Downing Street today is profoundly unhealthy. Just imagine the staff in that now wretched office, knowing the boss, to whom I’m certain many feel a loyalty, could be seriously damaged if they were to speak out on their own bullying.
Yet the Labour Party and Brown’s most trusted advisers continue to pretend there’s no problem at all. Brown is ‘a man who gets angry with himself’. Some Ministers claim never to have heard Gordon Brown even raise his voice. Some Labour twitterers are calling it a non-story.
This is extremely worrying; how can the party of the trades’ unions seriously argue that several people having experienced bullying from the Prime Minister so serious that other people found out about it is a non-story? How can people who claim to work in favour of workers’ rights genuinely have more loyalty to their bully of a leader than to the benighted civil service workers who daily undergo his alleged vicious and violent outbursts?
Unless Gordon Brown admits he has a problem, he has no chance of sorting it out, and his staff, who have a right to be treated with respect, will live even more in fear of his potential for rage.