And in other shock news, bears are discovered to defecate in arboricultural areas.
Here's the story.
I ought to say that I am not a psychologist, so any remarks are just the observations of a reasonably-sensible mature adult. But I have been observing Brown for a long time.
Any stories from 'behind the scenes' are going to be to some extent unreliable, and those of Andrew Rawnsley are so explosive that one's bullshit detector should be on maximum. But Rawnsley is an ex-Guardian journalist and a long-term supporter of Labour, so I would think that a Daily Mail-style anti-Labour agenda is unlikely. In other words, unless there is convincing evidence otherwise, I would be inclined to believe his story is, at least in large part, true.
According to Rawnsley, Brown is a defensive, paranoid bully who manhandles his staff, shouts at both senior aides and secretaries alike, and takes his frustrations out physically, either by throwing things or shoving people about. No. 10 staff were so distressed by his behaviour that Gus O'Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, investigated their claims and had a word with Brown, telling him that "this is no way to get things done".
According to the Prime Minister and the Dark Lord, this is all a fabrication.
This is easily resolved. Gus O'Donnell should make clear whether this happened in the way Rawnsley describes, or not. Either it is a fabrication, or it isn't.
If it is a fabrication, Brown has cast-iron grounds to sue Rawnsley and The Observer for punitive damages, as the allegations cast great doubt in the public mind as to his suitability for office, and with an election only weeks away, this is a serious and current issue for everyone. He could win millions, and donate it to charity (or to the taxpayer, if he had any conscience).
If it not a fabrication, then all our suspicions about Brown's suitability are confirmed. He is a paranoid bully who can't handle the responsibility of leadership, and he should be removed at the earliest opportunity for the sake of the nation. Even Labour supporters should be able to see this.
So which is it? Well, at the moment it is the word of Rawnsley against the word of Brown and Mandelson. A journalist against a brace of politicians. That's a bit like comparing estate agents and used-car salesmen, but I have read a lot by Rawnsley and I respect him. Brown and Mandelson, on the other hand, seem to make their living by telling lies while keeping their exact words within the strict bounds of truth (example: "I never hit anyone in my life" - he was not actually accused of hitting anyone). I know who I believe.
And Rawnsley's story seems to be based on a lot of interviews with a lot of people, and it is remarkably consistent. Surely they can't all be Daily Mail stooges out to discredit the Government? Then there is the drugs question, never satisfactorily answered. And the off-camera glowering at news presenters who dare to challenge him. And the shaking hand at PMQs. And the weird grinning on YouTube. Personally, I think Brown was never fit to lead the country, and I think that a lot of people in the Labour Party knew that. Shame on them for allowing him to accede to the throne without a leadership election. We're seeing him come apart now, but it has been on the cards for a long time.
Let Gus O'Donnell speak, and tell us what really happened. He is a civil servant, and it is his duty to the nation to do so.