I have been following the consequences of the publication of the extracts from Andrew Rawnsley's new book in the Observer yesterday about Brown's temper and alleged bullying of his staff over the last couple of days.
The first thing that struck me was just how determined lots of Labour tweeters and bloggers were to instantly try and dismiss the claims. They immediately came up with the #RawnsleyRot hashtag on Twitter and tried to smear Rawnsley himself. The various defences attempted that I have seen are that there is no evidence for his claims (Rawnsley insists that his sources are 24 carat and has been researching this book for three years), Rawnsley has form for having made mistakes in the past (I am sure we could do that with all journalists) and what has been revealed is not actually bullying but Gordon angry with himself (I am not sure the secretary who was allegedly pulled out of her chair would see it like that if that is true).
The worst defence I have seen though which I have seen repeated numerous times is that Andy Coulson (Cameron's spin doctor) is a proven bully and therefore no Tories are allowed to comment about the allegations against Brown or the "people in glass houses defence". I was one of those to suggest at the time that Coulson's behaviour was totally wrong and that Cameron should get rid of him but the reasoning here is pretty weak stuff. It is reminiscent of the sort of thing you see Brown do sometimes with Cameron across the dispatch box when Cameron has asked a question and Brown responds "I'll take no lessons from the man who was an advisor when interest rates were 15%" or some other such false point. Just because Andy Coulson is a bully does not make the allegations against Brown any better. It also does not invalidate questions from Tories just because someone in their party has also bullied in the past.
I expect that some people in the Lib Dems have been involved in bullying in the past too. Does that mean I am barred from discussing this issue too?
For what it is worth, I think that Rawnsley's allegations must be very soundly sourced otherwise I do not think the Observer would have dared publish them. Indeed as far as I am aware there have been no moves by Brown or his lawyers to launch a libel action against the paper which surely, if any of these stories were fabricated he would have done straight away? I also think Rawnsley was right to publish them.
We have a right to know how our Prime Minister who is seeking another 5 year mandate operates. Just because other people in other parties may have also been guilty of bad behaviour does not mean we should all shut up about this.