Cameron and Clegg cheapen politics….
Astounding stuff from both the opposition leaders today on the Gordon Brown ‘bullying allegations’. It should have said something to David Cameron’s political judgement that even Conservative Home urged the Conservative leader not to touch the story with a barge poll. However, true to his opportunist nature Cameron just couldn’t resist and called for an inquiry into the allegations:
Taking questions at the launch of the Network for the Post Bureaucratic Age in central London, Mr Cameron said: “These are very serious matters and I am sure Number 10 will want to have some sort of inquiry.” He suggested that the Prime Minister’s independent advisor on ministerial standards, Sir Philip Mawer, should look into it. He described the episode as “another unseemly mess at the fag end of a government that is tired and discredited” and said it was “just another reason why we need a general election.”
You expect it from Cameron perhaps but Nick Clegg wasn’t far behind:
Mr Clegg said that Downing Street should clear up the allegations as soon as possible. “We have just had a weekend where Gordon Brown has said that he wants to deliver fairness to everybody and now he is facing very serious allegations that he is not being fair at all to the people working closest to him,” he said.
Not once did Clegg mention that these allegations come from an organisation with very close ties to the Conservative Party. Indeed, its founder seems unaware of basic political facts. Christine Pratt claims that calls have been received from both the offices of the deputy prime minister and prime minister in the last 18 months. However, there has been no deputy Prime Minister since 2007 and when questioned about this Pratt seemed unsure of the facts:
When it was put to her that there had not been a deputy prime minister since 2007, she said she would need to check with volunteers in the helpline office, but she understood that a complaint had come in from someone in that department, “as far as I am aware, but I will need to check out the dates and the details.”
In other words it looks like this story was manufactured in CCHQ especially given the ties between the Conservative Party and the National Bullying Helpline. What amazes me is that so much is being made of this; maybe Brown does have moments of temper but then again so do we all. Are Conservatives pretending that somebody like Margaret Thatcher did not? What about Winston Churchill? I think its fair to presume somebody who was a known depressive and alcoholic would have had volatile mood moments. I am sure the reality is that there have been numerous times Prime Ministers of every stripe and hue have lost their temper given the pressure of the position and they no doubt struggle under the enormous strain.
Mike Smithson wonders at the possible reaction of voters. My feeling is that they will react in the proper way and actually all these attacks will do is rally support around Brown. Clegg in particular stands to lose heavily because his claim to represent a new politics is shot to pieces as he has lined-up behind a Conservative campaign of personal vendetta and smear which has about 0 political content. Making absurdly overblown claims like Iain Dale has that Brown has ‘debased the office of Prime Minister’ shows how desperate the opposition are.
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