Battlelines have been drawn over the latest shock allegations levelled at 'Bully Boy' Brown, with the Downing Street damage limitation spinning machine fired up in full denial mode. Bullygate has gone global from the US to Oz. Rawnsley's revelations have hit a raw nerve.
The media is talking up the cronies or taking up the cudgels. But denials will make no difference. With such shocking revelations once again splashed across the international media, there's no denying the damage has been done.
Brown's BBC was up and running yesterday with a Brown denial lifted from a Channel 4 News interview spoiling Brown Big Day well before the Observer had fired the starting gun for Rawnsley's sensational serialisation.
Telling Channel 4 News: "I have never hit anybody in my life," Brown denied accusations that had not been made. Damaging allegations must have hit a raw nerve if Brown is forced to deny something before anything is splashed across the Sundays.
Not to be outgunned, the MoS was up and running with Brown 'ordered to curb volcanic temper' after he was accused of abusing Downing Street staff. The IoS was left floundering and falling back on its tired formula - if you've nothing new to say - stick up big Brown sauce.
If Rawnsley was alone with these sort of allegations then some could discount them. But he isn't. No.10 spinners are pulling out the stops to kill the story which means it must have a ring of truth.
The bombshells, some reported by the MoS spoiler a few weeks ago, feature in Rawnsley's new book The End Of The Party. Downing Street aides have been well aware for some time that the Observer was set to publish an extract from Rawnsley's book.
But at the time of writing, no one has been lined up to say what a nice gentle kind of chap he is to have around the office.
Most damning and damaging is Rawnsley's claim that Brown received an unprecedented reprimand from the civil service head honcho for abusive behaviour to staff along with explosive disclosures about Brown's violent and volcanic outbursts.
The country's top civil servant ordered Brown to 'curb your volcanic temper' after investigating allegations of bullying by Brown. According to Rawnsley in the Observer:
"The cabinet secretary, became so alarmed by the prime minister’s behaviour that he launched his own investigations when he received reports of Brown’s bullying of staff. O’Donnell then gave the prime minister a stern “pep talk” and ordered him to change his behaviour."
Some of Rawnsley's revelations had been teased in the MoS with a carefully planted spoiler weeks ago as part of a deliberate Downing Street ploy to weaken the impact of the allegations. But such a reprimand from the civil service head is unheard of and wasn't in the MoS spoiler.
Rawnsley claims "absolutely impeccable sources". And, according to Rawnsley, Labour MP Stephen Pound confirmed to Sky News that O'Donnell warned Brown about his behaviour.
Brown's foul behaviour and temper tantrums come as no surprise to Brown watchers. He even looks like a nasty piece of work. But to trigger a warning from Whitehall’s most powerful official begs the questions whether Brown is fit for office as a general election draws near. Do voters want this guy to run the country for another five years?
An explosive account by Watt and an explosive account by Price. Now an explosive account by Rawnsley. Keep well away from the bunker, it's about to explode.
Charges of betrayal against ex-Downing Street insider, Price or Labour chief, Watt with an axe to grind, cannot be levelled at Rawnsley.
Rawnsley is a respected political journalist on the right side of New Labour with years of experience under his belt - which makes his account all the more devastating.
Is everyone else so wrong and only the indignant one right? There are too many 'bullying' stories flying around.
Rawnsley's account is a suitable epitaph to the rise and fall of New Labour and the final nail in the coffin of 'Bully Boy' Brown, leading the pack of the Downing Street reservoir dogs.
UPDATE 6.19pm: The BBC reports that several people in Brown's office had "called a bullying helpline", according to the boss of an anti-bullying charity.