Barry: On this one I’m with Gordon
Feb 24 2010 by Barry Gibson, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
IF journalist Andrew Rawnsley is to be believed, the leader of this country has a volcanic temper which has seen him grab staff by the lapels, shove them aside and yell at them.
These are very serious accusations.
Politics is a rough business and you don’t get to Number 10 by being a nice guy – though some people like Tony Blair did get there by pretending to be a nice guy.
Mr Brown and his inner circle have a reputation for ruthlessness – just ask Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman who last year labelled the PM’s right-hand man Ed Balls "a bit of a bully".
And it’s easy to envisage a situation where Mr Brown – who has one of the most stressful jobs in the country – would lose his temper.
The occasional raised voice, kicked bin or thrown file we could live with. It’s not to be encouraged, but hey, it’s understandable.
However, there are lines which should not be crossed, and a manager laying hands on his underlings is certainly one of them.
So it was not surprising that Number 10 was quick off the mark on Sunday to rubbish Mr Rawnsley’s allegations.
But then on Sunday evening Christine Pratt, founder of the National Bullying Helpline, revealed that several Downing Street staff had contacted her charity seeking help.
And that, for me, was when it got interesting.
I’ve never worked for a charity but, in my world, confidentiality is key.
When you train to be a journalist, it’s drummed in to you that you should never reveal an anonymous source – ever.
People have to be confident that if they come to a reporter to reveal wrongdoing they won’t be hung out to dry.
I would presume that anyone who works for a charity is similarly told that, when a vulnerable person comes to them anonymously with a problem, they are not to breach this confidence.
Mrs Pratt has said she made her extraordinary revelation because she was unhappy with the way Downing Street was dealing with the problem.
She may well have been upset, but I can’t see how that would justify her committing this cardinal sin.
Her charity’s credibility is now in ruins.