New book depicts Gordon Brown as a bully as poll looms | Europe | News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 21.02.2010

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New book depicts Gordon Brown as a bully as poll looms

He screams, throws tantrums and physically intimidates his staff. That's how excerpts published Sunday from a new book on Britain's Labour Party, describe Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Brown has denied the allegations.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown

The book couldn't have come at a worse time for Brown as he trails in the polls

Published in the Observer on Sunday, excerpts from 'The End of the Party,' by political journalist Andrew Rawnsley depict Brown as a verbally abusive bully to his staff.

The book could further damage Prime Minister Gordon Brown's chances of election this year. Brown is already trailing in opinion polls and his defeat could end Labour's 13-year stint in power.

The cover of The End of the Party by Andrew Rawnsley

Rawnsley's book could further dent Brown's sliding popularity

Author Rawnsley claims that Sir Gus O'Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, "felt compelled to directly confront the Prime Minister and give him a stern 'pep' talk about his conduct towards the staff."

According to Rawnsley, the conduct that led to that pep talk included screaming and swearing at staff, grabbing an aide by the collar of his shirt, pushing aside a secretary who he felt wasn't typing fast enough and taking over the keyboard.

Rawnsley wrote that Brown's staff was "afraid of him because he was always shouting at people, being unpleasant, constantly blaming people for things going wrong."

On Saturday, ahead of the publication, Brown defended himself in a television interview, saying he had never hit anybody. "If I get angry, I get angry with myself," he said. "I don't do these sorts of things. His official spokesman released a statement on Sunday rejecting the portrayal. "These malicious allegations are totally without foundation," it said.

Book divides politicians

Prominent conservative William Hague told Sky News on Sunday that the descriptions of Brown in the book raised doubts about his ability to lead the country.

"I don't think he has ever shown that he can lead a happy team and a successful team," he said. "I don't think he has really been cut out for it." However, "the main reason we should decide to have a change in government is because of the bigger issues," he said.

British Business Secretary Peter Mandelson

Brits don't want a "shrinking violet," Mandelson said in defense of Brown

But Labour allies lined up to defend their prime minister. Home Secretary Alan Johnson told the BBC he had known Brown for 17 years and had "never" heard him swear or raise his voice.

Also speaking to the BBC, Business Secretary Peter Mandelson admitted that Brown was demanding, both of his staff and of himself, but said he did not abuse his staff.

"He knows what he wants to do … He will go on and on until he's got a policy or an idea in the best possible form which he can then roll out," he said. "On the way, yes, there is a degree of impatience about the man, but what would you like, some sort of shrinking violet at the helm of the government when we're going through such storm waters?" he said.

A difficult time for Labour

Britain must hold elections before June, and although the Labour Party has been in power since 1997, Brown himself is untested at the ballot box.

He took the top job in 2007 when former Prime Minister Tony Blair stepped down. Opinion polls indicate a loss for the Labour Party, with voters unhappy about the struggling economy and the number of troops being killed in the unpopular war in Afghanistan.

Editor: Sonia Phalnikar

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