The personal relates to the political very closely in Gordon Brown’s case because his bullying is not a manifestation of his dynamism and determination but of his childish inability to admit error and acknowledge the need for change. Nowhere are the weaknesses of his character more obvious than in his aides treatment of Alistair Darling during at the start of the economic crisis. Darling had told my Guardian colleague Decca Aitkenhead that we were facing the worst recession in 60 years. If Darling was guilty of anything, it was understatement. But Brown could not tolerate his clear-headed assessment, because it revealed that his supposed economic miracle was an illusion and implied that his failures to regulate the banks and balance the budget would have catastrophic consequences. So out went his attack dogs to undermine the chancellor at the very moment when he needed the Prime Minister’s support.
I heard Charlie Whelan, Brown’s prolier-than-thou public school boy, denounce the Chancellor outside a Soho pub. It says much for Whelan’s certainty that the political press would obey orders that he did not go off the record but conducted his black propaganda operation in a public place where anyone might have overheard him.
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