The recent allegations of bullying in Gordon Brown’s office are by no means the first of their kind. Andrew Rawnsley’s book merely suggested that people were shoved aside, as opposed to the more serious claims of mobile phones being thrown which have been circulating the internet for some time.
On top of this, the National Bullying Helpline is, as I type this, dominating the news channels – particularly since their patron has just resigned over the alleged breach of confidentiality when they stated that several people working in Gordon Brown’s office had contacted them about bullying.
But this doesn’t remove the political element from the story. The problem for Labour is one of context. For a party satirised by the fictional government of the Thick of It, one particular Malcolm Tucker quote stands out:
How dare you call me a bully. I am so much worse than that.
There are already those associated with Labour who the public and the media perceive as bullies: Alastair Campbell and Damian McBride, whilst labelled “spin doctors”, also were believed to have fulfilled the role of “enforcers”.
Whether or not this is true will by now be irrelevant; the damage is done to their careers. The real problem for Labour now is that this might be extended to the Prime Minister, and the fear that there might be similar consequences.
The media have been accused of being selective in their coverage and have to some extent ignored some of the more negative coverage of the National Bullying Helpline. More weight has been placed on the issues of confidentiality surrounding the statements of Caroline Pratt. Yet the media can afford to be selective and may well do so consciously – this story has a much longer history than the last 48 hours.