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Cameron inquiry call says more about him than GB

Posted on 22 February 2010 | 3:02pm

Interesting moment at BBC London – I was there to be interviewed by Robert Elms about my book and my views on matters London – when the ‘news’ was announced that David Cameron had ‘called for an inquiry’ into GB and bullying.

Interesting because of the rolling eyes and the ‘inquiry into what?’ shouts from those who heard this ‘news’.

There is always a moment in media frenzies when the media knows that it is reporting a frenzy but can’t do much to stop it(self). . This was that moment. It said as much about Cameron as it did about GB.

As he clearly has nothing better to do with his time, Cameron could perhaps draw up the terms of reference for the inquiry, and maybe give some indication as to how much public money he thinks should be spent on it. Then realise he was wasting his breath, and making himself look silly in the meantime.

Rule 1. Only call for resignations if you think there really should be resignations. Variant on the rule – only call for inquiries if you really think there should be one.

Of course the Andrew Rawnsley book, and the resultant mini frenzy, is meat and drink to the Tories not for what it says about Gordon but because it removes the threat they fear most – the prospect that policy might be on the politico-media agenda.

There were two ways for Team Dave to approach today. He could have said … well there goes GB in a bit of a pother about this Rawnsley book, and that Pratt woman has rather helped push it along in our direction so let’s leave it and instead I’ll go out and say something about the economy, or public services, maybe outline one or two things I would do if I was Prime Minister.

Or he could ‘call for an inquiry.’

Pathetic really.

The Tories seemingly can’t work out why the polls are closing.

It is because people are starting to look at them more closely, and realise what a second-rate bunch they are.

Doubtless Andy Coulson was at Dave’s right hand as this ‘strategy’ was put together. That would be the same Coulson whose bullying culture at the News of the World led to the biggest tribunal payout on record. No calls for an inquiry then, eh Dave?

*** Buy The Blair Years online and raise money for Labour

  • James

    Should Labour look forward to the live debates?

  • Paul

    I agree regarding DC. There may well be a media frenzy, and right now it’s still hard to say which way it will go, but to demand an inquiry?

  • StivBator

    It’s not just Coulson who has form.

    Another Cameron confidante, close associate and adviser, Steve Hilton was recently arrested and fined for abusing a ticket inspector after he tried to bunk a train.

    My view is this – Brown (like Campbell) is a bit of bastard and shouts. Doesn’t mean that either are part of a concerted bullying campaign of the kind Coulson was central to at the Screws.

    But if Brown was so bad why has there never been any staff member actually taking him to a tribunal? Why has Brown never been arrested? If his bullying is pathological then surely he wouldn’t be able to control himself and would’ve been nicked by now?

    Pathetic from the Tories is right.

    It’s Viz style politics.

  • Mark Wright

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the media track down Blair and ask him if he was being literal when he referred to GB as the ‘big clunking fist’.

  • Webby

    And this blog was written with a straight face? You never leaned a bit too heavy on a journalist or a colleague, Mr Campbell?

    I don’t defend the Tories but, Labour have learnt nothing. Just come out and say the truth, that in a pressured environment sometimes the Prime Monster has overstepped the mark, like say, Sir Alex Ferguson.

    Still, SAF can defend his hair-dryer treatment by his results. No results from Labour in this particular Parliament worth shouting about.

  • Liam Murray

    Remarkable – 400+ words without addressing the allegation at the heart of the story.

    You haven’t lost it Alastair….

  • Trickie Dickie

    This Pratt woman is at pains to state she is,
    not political; serveral now means 3-4 people over 18 months some of whom did not call but downloaded information.
    Who does not point the finger at GB and is acting out of concern at the possibility the government does not have a bullying policy, she has just signed her own redundancy cheque. I hope she files her charities accounts before she goes.
    Oh and am I bullying if I remind her of the gov information site on healthy eating and diet

  • Quietzapple

    The ToryBBC, having run with Rawnsley from the ToryGuardian group on Sunday morning found the Christine Pratt story to misrepresent for the next 12 hours. (She Never said anyone had complained about Gordon Brown)

    These Second Iraq war Tory supporters at the Beeb, who will not froget their defenestration over Gilligan should have been reporting the cut in tory lead to 6%, the polls which show Labour winning all three Brighton & Hove seats, the A fair future for all slogan among other real news.

    What is worse for Chameleon is that the clown Clegg called for a silly inquiry a little before he did. He cannot even get up to speed as fast as the third party loser. (Whose reasoning in calling for the Inquiry was so naff the journo presenting this piece of Lib-Dem bum fluff couldn’t bring themself to ask a question – Why?)

    May, Election, Lab by 60, Hercules to the Augean stables of ToryBBC News etc.

  • Mary Maguire

    This Pratt debacle shows that many journalists no longer check their facts or the source of their so-called information. It seems that anyone can just fling around allegations and be taken at face value. And, of course, it shows that the Tories will run a dirty campagin.

  • Robert Jackson

    Neatly put, Alastair.

    This seems a variant of John McCain’s surprising decision in the 2008 US presidential election to suspend his campaign to go back to Washington to sort out the banking crisis.

    All it did was focus media attention on his own impotence and on the Republicans’ involvement in the problem in the first place.

    Not sensible at all.

  • Marie C

    If DB has any sense at all he won’t touch this one with a bargepole! I hate ‘personal politics’,attacking people rather than policies is cheap,nasty and says more about the one pointing the finger,I think.
    Besides Ms Christine Pratt has shot herself in the foot on this and should resign now.I’m so angry over her breaking the golden rule of confidentiality and the untold damage she has done to the other charity hotlines.The BBC should have done more background research on this woman,she seems to make a habit of using Employment tribunals for her own profit,I’ve already found 2 cases she has brought and having read the court transcripts,would suggest she take some of her own advice on work relationships.She has been trending on Twitter all day,all negative! Women like her do our gender no favours at all!

  • M Mason

    Seems to me the person being bullied here is Gordon Brown and by all the usual suspects.

  • Steve

    No surprise to learn that you are opposed to inquiries given your recent history, Alistair.

    Not in disagreement with what you’ve blogged, but its a bit rich to read the inspiration for the monster that is Malcolm Tucker opining on bullying, Blair’s right hand man and Burrell-esque ‘rock’ opining on inquiries.

  • Charlie

    AC You are probably more relaxed about the alleged bullying culture of GB’s circle, having known about and no doubt experienced it over the years.

    Us public are however extremely concerned to learn that our Country may be run by a cabal of this nature. (Our suspicions were alerted when Guido exposed and defenestrated McBride, Brown’s bully-in-chief, last year).

    If an investigation determines that bullying has indeed taken place at No10, I will expect the suspects to face trial in the same way as the guilty Coulson.

  • Alan Quinn

    So we’re led to believe that rather than complain to their union reps and/or go through a grievance procedure the civil servants concerned rang a non descript bullying helpline employing only three operators?

  • Brian Tomkinson

    Not surprising to see you and Prescott defending the indefensible. Didn’t many in the media claim that your modus operandi was to bully them whenever they printed something you didn’t like? What were the matters regarding Brown that you omitted from your book?

  • Meagn

    This isn’t about David Cameron, it’s about Gordon Brown. Your attempts at deflecting attention away from the main issue, ( G.B.’s character flaws), are rather obvious.


    Dear AC

    The really worrying development today is the betrayal of trust by the charity.They could seriously compromise their callers right to privacy.Two patrons have resigned and Miss Pratt should stepdown.

  • Brian Hughes

    Mrs Pratt seems rather to have lived up to her surname and Mr Cameron seems, as ever, to be eager to acquire the same adjective.

    Well done Ann Widdecombe and the other patrons who have resigned from the charity. Perhaps Mrs Pratt might now reflect quietly on some aspects her own impetuous style.

    But what, now, of the tedious Mr Rawnsley’s “spectacular revelations”? About as useful as so much of his allegedly reliable off the record briefings I guess.

    Does anyone above the rank of a lance corporal talk to him these days and, if so, why? Perhaps there’s some fun to be had by seeing how much tripe he’ll swallow.

  • Jane

    I am not sure that DC called for an enquiry. I thought he said that No10 and the Civil Service may wish to investigate the claims. This was in response to a question – at least he answered it!

    I have seen the full weight of the government machine demolishing Mrs Pratt who disclosed that staff from No 10 had contacted her helpline. (I did not think it was appropriate to do this). John Prescott together with a website giving the legal link to an employment tribunal involving Mrs Prattr Prescott upset me with his intimitating tone. A former Home Secretary writing to the charity immediately rather than letting the dust settle. Peter Mandelson talking of odour and political machinations. They have beaten Mrs Pratt – never ever will they beat Andrew Rawnsley – an excellent journalist with an excellent reputation for integrity and impeccable sources for his writing.

    Despite getting in with the media to counteract any possible claims by Andrew Rawnsley – they failed miserably. The spin from the centre was predictable. I thought it was handled abysmally – the PM and his team should rise above such issues.

    This has been an uncomfortable day for me and reminds me of the past and Old Labour. I do not like my government at the moment.

  • Patrick James

    Re: The bullying story

    I think Miss Pratt has done Gordon Brown a favour by making herself the centre of the story.

    Re: Opinion Polls

    The Guardian has a new ICM poll showing Conservatives down 3 points and labour up 1. So, 37 for Conservatives, 30 for Labour, Lib Dems 20 and others 13.

    In more detail I see that Labour leads the Conservatives by 8 points as the party with the best policy on care for the elderly.

    I think this care for the elderly is extremely important. I am in my late 40s and far from elderly but even a youngster like me thinks ahead and thinks about what will be important in old age.

    I have a great love for my house. In fact my house is the only thing I actually own of any value. I think that is very true indeed of many people.

    If I became very old and it was suggested for my health that I must go into some form of care home I would not do this. In fact I would start wearing a belt with explosives in it and threaten to set it off if anyone tried to get me out of my house.

    So, I think that it is very good to try to make it possible for older people to receive care at their homes if they wish it to be so.

  • Marion

    I hope GB keeps his silence on this issue, at 59 if he was a “bully” by nature he would have been called to account in an employment tribunal by now. Ms Pratt is making a fool of herself on TV… and tying herself in knots over confidentiality and her links to the Tory party.

    Bullying at work is a serious issue for lots of people. I am amazed that this charity has staff like Ms Pratt, who are trivialising it; there are appropriate systems in place via trade unions and ACAS to deal with workplace bullying. If the people in question work for the civil service they are in a safe environment to seek support, guidance and retribution. Working with the Prime Minister is a privilege which many people would relish; the drawbacks of a highly pressured work environment with tension, excitement and long hours must be part of that opportunity.

    If GB gets fed up with the moaners who can’t hack it – can you let him know I am more than willing to swap my job seekers allowance with them!

  • Chris lancashire

    Of course there shouldn’t be an inquiry. It would be a waste of time and public money. It would merely run into the same sands as Hutton and others.