Now that Guido and Iain have picked it up, I feel that it is only fair to Brown—cue much grinding of pointy teeth—to publish the other side. I was at a party recently, when I bumped into a good friend of mine—who, like many of my friends, I haven't seen in a long time—and who is now working in the Cabinet Office.
I forwarded John Ward's article to said friend, wondering if they had any comment. Sure, I knew that my friend would not have daily contact with Brown, but I was pretty sure that they would have some knowledge of what is going on. And, since my friend has also had some experience with depression, I was sure that they would have some idea about MAOIs.
So, here—published with permission—is the comment from my trusted friend in the Cabinet Office [edited for clarity and to hide any identity]. Yes, the source is anonymous, but so are just about all the others that I have read—especially in John Ward's article.
... I'd say most of it is utter bollocks. Firstly (and I have quite a speciality here as well), no one would prescribe MAOIs. These have such horrendous side effects that an individual taking them would need to be in a lot of trouble, and would be likely to be in hospital.
Secondly, although his politics are not mine, [Brown] is genuinely lovely. His major problem was that Blair looked really good on camera.
Brown is intelligent, jovial and quite lovely close-up, he's just not a good enough TV presence to make up for that. I've had some lovely stories about him from No 10—especially from the little people.
Most have seen a few PMs now, and my favourite anecdote was around the politeness. Apparently most of No 10 think he and Sarah are just the loveliest people. Never a harsh word spoken etc.
Blair was ok, but his wife made their lives hell and treated them like plantation workers, while John Major was "a cunt. Just a cunt through and through."
Obviously, Cabinet members and senior civil servants arguing policy with him are likely to see a more argumentative side.
The man is almost certainly depressed. One in three of us are, and we're not theoretically responsible for the lives and deaths of millions of people.
Plus the loss of child, eye and so forth can't be easy to overcome. I think he lives for his work and his wife now and that's about it.
Finally, if he was suffering more than the normal stresses of a fairly abnormal career choice, one of the battery of medics and lawyers from TSol would have found a reason to extend his holiday.
No sick Cabinet member is allowed to show that sort of weakness in public (we didn't see Blair for days after one of his "sore tummies"). Ergo this is a standard attack from Conservative side, building up pre-election rumour base.
[Not something that would surprise your humble Devil.]
I may not be going to vote for the man at the next election, but Brown definitely has a full set of marbles, and for some reason I do quite like him.
As a little aside, you might like to know I ate lunch with him once in the Treasury refectory. Probably half of us did at one time or another—he came (and chose his own food) for breakfast and, sometimes, for lunch.
He'd pick a random table and eat quietly, engaging in conversation with people only if they started it (I think he may have had a rule that no one could petition him if they came across him).
But unlike other ministers I've worked with, he never held himself aloof; and he never came down amongst hoi polloi as some sort of "involvement" stunt—he just liked people.
Now, as you'll know, your humble Devil is no fan of Gordon Brown. I think that he is an incompetent fuckwit who has utterly buggered up our economy and is continuing to do so.
I was also, I admit, expecting to hear similar horror stories to those that have come out so far. The reason that I asked permission to publish was because the reply took me entirely by surprise.
My friend is certainly not a Labour supporter and does, in fact, lean far more towards the libertarian side. So, quite apart from the fact that they are an old friend (and a no-nonsense one at that), I am definitely inclined to take my contact at their word.
(UPDATE: that's not to say that he definitely isn't barking, or a total bastard. Just that he may not be an utter fuckweasel all of the time and may, in fact, possess some measure of charm.)
Mind you, I still think that the cunt should call an election...
UPDATE 2: alternatively, there's this comment from Bishop Brennan.
Sorry DK, but your chum is talking bollocks.
I worked at the Treasury under Brown, and he is the biggest cunt I have ever come across - I've worked with a few Ministers, and he is even worse than Margaret Hodge and Harperson!
His temper is legendary, he shouts at the 'little people', he has no idea how to communicate with normal people. Although he did once throw a chair at Shriti Vadera, so he can't be all bad! :-)
Why do you think he ended up with that famous orange blob on his forehead - because he grabbed the make-up off the woman doing it, told her off and tried to do it himself. It says everything about the man.
Add to that his unwillingness to listen to different views (and the fact that anyone who doesn't tell him what he wants to hear is persona non grata - hence the Treasury fuck ups on everything from public spending to banking to PFI, etc.), that every move is (mis)calculated to get the Tories rather than to serve the best interests even of his core voters, and you have a complete and utter useless gobshite. And he's inflicted Ed Bollocks on our already-failing education system!
So I have no sympathy for the fucker's mental illness (which is almost certainly true - he is certainly mad in any case) - and nor should anyone until he grovels before the country, admits what a fuckwit he's been and resigns.
To be honest, I suspect that there are elements of both in the man—but I thought that I'd relay the first because you never hear such an opinion. However, it seems to me that if serious questions are being asked about his sanity, Brown is finished.