Monday, February 22, 2010

Spinners Try To Batten Down Bullygate

Brown sauce spinners are trying to keep a lid on Bullygate with botched-up blundering over 'Bully Boy' Brown and an anti-bullying boss bullied by Brown's bidders, after blistering bombshells blew up the Bunker.

Downing Street had weeks to set up lines of defence after a carefully planted spoiler in the Mos to steal Rawnsley's thunder, with claims 'Bully Boy' Brown bashed people around. Easy-peasy to deny.

Only Rawnsley made no such claims in his aptly named new book The End of the Party, sensationally serialised in the Observer.

Publishers had kept the best bit under wraps. Instead it was Rawnsley's shocking revelation over the civil service head honcho's "own investigations" giving "a verbal warning" to Bullying Brown which knocked the wind out of their sails.

Spinning like a top, denials of a "formal investigation" came thick and fast. Only Rawnsley never claimed such a formal investigation has been made.

Ministers waited on Mandy for the line to take, eventually trotted out to try to kill the story stone dead. Bully for them.

But the damage had been done. Downing Street denials were too much for anti-bullying boss, Pratt, who spilled the beans to the BBC claiming Brown staff had contacted her 'National Bullying Helpline' for an anxious helpful chat.

The lid had blown off the 24 hour news cycle and Tucker's first rule of news management blown out of the water. Bullygate had crossed over to Monday with a Thundering bang and a scorcher from sibling Sun.

Desperate bids to paint Pratt as a Tory plant over Conservative endorsements of the anti-bullying helpline didn't stand up. The charity is backed by Mandy's department. Whoops.

Relentless stooge smears continued. Brown's bag carrier PPS Snelgrove was wheeled out to stick up for her boss.

Dirty tricks or what. Isn't this the same Snelgrove well-known for her 'unflagging loyalty to government ministers'? Praising Prescott to the hilt after his diary secretary affair and earning her Private Eye's "OBN" (Order of the Brown Nose). Yup.

It seems Snelgrove has history with Pratt but fell out after a spat. Time to try another line from the pages of Damage Limitation Weakly.

Try on a 'breach of confidentiality' to shut her up. An email whacked off by Brown's disgraced ex-home secretary Smith should do the trick. Only it didn't. The boss of an anti-bullying charity was not going to be bullied. Pratt was not going to live up to her name, having none of it on the Today prog.

In a last ditch bid at damage limitation, one of the anti-bullying helpline 'patrons', prof Cary Cooper, quit over claims of a breach of confidentiality. Which is strange because Pratt had not and would not finger anyone by name.

Is this the same prof Cooper who headed up the Sunningdale Institute of the National School of Government, a non-ministerial department of, er, the government, with the head of the civil service as president? A quango crony. Shurley shome mishtake.

And to cap it all, some New Labour luvvies had the gall to suggest the Brown example of workplace bullying is nothing to get upset about.

Under the government's own anti-bullying legislation, the employer - the head of the civil service - would be expected to at least follow the rules with due process to get to the bottom of it all. But unlike in the real workplace such a move falls on Downing Street deaf ears.

What a tangled web they weave. And it all could have been avoided if Bottling Brown had used his Big Day on Saturday to fire the election starting gun, popping in to see Her Maj on Monday.

But McPoison runs in the blood of Downing Street spinners. The old reservoir dog refuses to lie down and die.

Now Tories can go on the attack repeating previous backbench claims of a bullying cover-up. Cameron can breeze in with calls for a full blown bullying inquiry.

Too much spinning. Too much Bullygate bullying. Not much common sense.

Top picture: Morten Morland, The Times

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