23 February 2010


Why do the Brits prefer the mumsy word 'bullying' to 'intimidation', 'abuse of authority', 'victimization', 'threatening behaviour', etc.?

And why should it be considered remarkable that Gordon Brown, after scheming and conniving for so many years to achieve his current eminence, should show the strain of discovering that he is simply not up to the task?

Churchill's ability to stir what De Gaulle called 'the thick British paste' owed much to his intimidation of civil servants. When bureaucrats were seen running in the corridors of the Admiralty in 1939, it was a clear sign that Winston was back.

On the other hand, Churchill did not sack those who stood up to him; indeed, he recognized that his impulsive temperament absolutely required the restraint of having such people around him.

Is it not possible that Brown would have been better served, and we better governed, if he had been checked by officials prepared to tell truth to power, and to restrain the more spiteful and self-defeating aspects of his personality?

I suppose it comes down to this: for all his flaws, Churchill was an admirable man; for whatever virtues he may have, Brown is not. Therefore those around him have not been prepared to risk their careers in order to bring out the best in him.

I have absolutely no sympathy for the man, but I do not find it difficult to understand why he should rage against the silent verdict of his merely obedient officials.

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