Saturday, April 11, 2009

Brown & Nixon: More in Common Than You Might Think

Back in September 2008 I wrote a blogpost about the Nixonian personality of Gordon Brown. I have developed this a bit further in an article for tomorrow's Mail on Sunday. I liken Brown's management of Downing Street to Nixon's White House. Here's how it starts...

Gordon Brown's Downing Street is beginning to resemble a paler version of the White House of Richard Nixon. If that sounds far-fetched, then consider the events of the past 48 hours. Because, while I am not suggesting that Smeargate is on the same scale as Watergate, the parallels are there.

Both men seem to delight in employing people who know only one form of defence and that’s attack – personal, professional and with more than a passing nod to the ‘dark arts’ of image manipulation. Nixon revelled in trying to get newspaper editors to fire journalists he disapproved of.

Brown, or at least the ‘inept Mafioso tactics’ employed by some of his New Labour operatives, has been blamed for the departure of New Statesman political editor Martin Bright. Not sufficiently ‘on message’, it was Bright who pointed the finger at Brown’s regime, claiming first-hand experience of the peculiarly forceful pressure these operatives can bring to bear.

Nixon appointed henchman such as John Ehrlichman, whose job it was to protect the reputation of the President. Writ large in this weekend’s revelations is the uncomfortable fact that our Prime Minister uses the likes of his former spin doctor Charlie Whelan and Damian McBride to bully and smear his opponents.

I’ve been around politics long enough to know that sometimes political workers overstep the boundary of what is acceptable political banter and discourse. The difference is that McBride was a civil servant, not a party operative.

The initial attempt by Downing Street to portray the whole incident as a ‘juvenile prank’, giving the impression that McBride was some sort of junior researcher operating on a freelance basis, was laughable...

...The signal sent out to any dissident has been as clear and ominous: mess with us and we will mess with you. What’s so Nixonian is that once you’re on the ‘enemies’ list you are never off it. When the focus of the Government should be on running the country, it seems increasingly diverted towards running down the reputation of perceived dissenters.

The tragedy is that ordinary voters probably think political smears like this are the norm across the political spectrum. I truly believe that they are not. But when such insidious tactics are exposed, they and their perpetrators need to be dealt with by those who purport to want a ‘different kind of politics’.

McBride has fallen on his sword. Several Labour MPs I know are now pushing for Draper to be disowned. They believe it is the only way for the sewer that runs through No 10 to be cleansed.
Read the full article on the Mail on Sunday website HERE.

39 comments:

Jimmy said...

Wasn't Nixon the one who spied on his opponents?

Chris Paul said...

Well said Jimmy. I thought this was far-fetched when you slipped it in on BBC N24. Can't see it I really can't.

Mirtha Tidville said...

The only way for the sewer that runs through 10 Downing Street to be cleansed is to get rid of Broon......the sooner the better

Letters From A Tory said...

"The signal sent out to any dissident has been as clear and ominous: mess with us and we will mess with you. What’s so Nixonian is that once you’re on the ‘enemies’ list you are never off it."

Didn't Alistair Campbell start all this, well before McBride? Isn't this incident the epitomy of New Labour?

David Boothroyd said...

Is that a smear on Gordon Brown? Given that no-one has even claimed he knew about the emails.

Jimmy said...

"Can't see it I really can't."

I suppose that would depend on how Staines managed to snoop on McBride's e-mails. He's curiously reticent about that.

Plato said...

*yawn*

Hmm, how would someone pass on emails...

Well most likely by printing them off once they'd been forwarded or copied into them,

Pam said...

If you read 'Personal History', the memoir of Katharine Graham, late Chairman and Publisher of the Washington Post, you'll get a good idea of the Nixon 'operatives', who were responsible for many things, including Watergate.

You would also read of the WP's nervousness, when they first broke the Watergate story, that no other media outlets were picking up on it - because they found it too incredible to be true.

Sound familiar??

Dr Blue said...

If Brown didn't know what his hemchmen were getting up to he's lost control of his office, and his staff. Is he a semi-detached prime minister?

iain said...

http://blog.dorries.org

Come on, fellows and fragrant fellowines, pop over to Nadine's blog and give her your support.

She doesn't need it as such, but I'm sure it would be very welcome.

HarveyProcter said...

I suppose that may swing a few Daily Mail readers away from Labour then.

"If Brown didn't know what his hemchmen were getting up to he's lost control of his office,"

I don't think Brown looks at all the e mails of all his staff at any level.Do you?

iain said...

and ps we all owe a thanks particularly to Guido and also to Iain.

One or two pulled me up a couple of weeks ago on Iain Dale's Orwell Prize post when I commented that the prize should go to Guido.

Without dissing the eventual winner, or the shortlisted - I wasn't wrong was I.

Kate said...

so you're telling me the Tories don't do this sort of thing? Come on Iain, hand on heart? And that Guido got hold of these emails legitimately?

it's hardly groundbreaking stuff is it really

Yes, I'm sure we'd all like to think that political parties exist for the people but we all know that a lot of smear campaigns go on, not only inter party but within parties too, something the Tories know all about.

Conand said...

I'm listening to the TalkSport programme now. Galloway is actually really good. Draper sounds really stupid, how did ever get quite a senior position?
In addtition to trashing Draper Boulton also really trashed McBride and by association Gordon Brown.

Mirtha Tidville said...

Bang on the button Iain...people like yourself and Guido have done democracy a big favour tonight..David and Sam Cameron have gone through a lot recently and thanks to these fcuk wits might have had to endure a lot more..

Take a well deserved bow chaps..

Jimmy said...

"so you're telling me the Tories don't do this sort of thing? "

How dare you? Smear stories make Guido weep.

Gichard Bixon said...

There will be no whitewash in the shitehouse.

mutleythedog said...

Both were also very ugly men..

Peter said...

Political leaders such as Thatcher and Churchill who lead from the front and set the agenda are to be admired.

Those such as Mugabe and Brown who employ henchmen and bully boys to follow their muddled agenda only bring misfortune and poverty to their people.

Grumpy Old Man said...

What is all this nonsense about "Nixonian". Is the thrust to accept the Brownian excuse that "it all started in the US"?
The whole way that the Brown administration has operated, both actually and morally, is Stalinism, pure and simple. Why are the MSM too precious to call a spade a bloody shovel? Use the "S" word, gentlemen.

iain said...

http://tinyurl.com/cdtn84

Galloway, (whom I wouldn't normally cross the road to you know what on if he was on fire) ripping in to the living walking breathing 'blogging' disaster that is Dolly Draper

Kate said...

perhaps Iain is hinting that Guido has his own Deep Throat

Iain Dale said...

Matron!

Yak40 said...

delight in employing people who know only one form of defence and that’s attack – personal, professional and with more than a passing nod to the ‘dark arts’ of image manipulation.

Sounds like the Democrats over in the US aided by their surrogates in the media.

Standard tactics of the left who crave power and will do anything to retain it if the electorate are stupid enough to give it to them.

Fidothedog said...

Brown on has half the vision of Nixon.

Tim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Yak40 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
strapworld said...

Jimmy/Chris Paul please take one step back. You are attempting to defend the indefensible.

Do you truly believe that Brown, that control freak, did not know about the plans for Red Rag?

If you do think that then you obviously believe that fairies live at the bottom of the garden, and that Brown IS the saviour of the world.

There is a similarity between Nixon and Brown and when other stories seep out, as they inevitable will do, perhaps even more damaging to Brown himself.

He will not be able to hide behind people all the time. When he is ditched and the truth comes out, he will be pilloried.

tory boys never grow up said...

This is a stupid and childish smear. You have no evidence that Brown put McBride and Draper up to those idiotic emails/Red Rag thing (not quite the same with Nixon and the Watergate break I think). The response (quite correctly) has been to get rid of McBride straightaway and it looks like Draper is on his way out (quite right too the last thing we need is someone trying to emulate yours and Guido's tactics)- I think you will find that Nixon's aides were kept a little longer.

As for your continued comments on Brown's mental state - I think that you will find that you are even less qualified than Draper (and have even less access to Brown) to be able to make such comments.

Just because McBride and Draper descended into the gutter to take on right wing bloggers it doesn't mean that you should ignore your own current position.

tory boys never grow up said...

Of course Margaret Thatcher never tried to get rid of political opponents/journalists she disagreed with. Funny you never saw any similarities with Nixon in that case.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

The story is moving too fast. Plenty is being missed.

Try and see it in the context of the last ten years; the lies, the spin, the "good day to bury bad news" the corrupt cash for honours and the thoroughly un-democratic way this Prime Minister achieved power.

This administration was poison from the beginning. The idea that Gordon Brown can remain aloof from this is incredible. In a sense, there does not need to be proof of his complicity, for, simply allowing this atmosphere to prevail is proof enough of his evil.

tory boys never grow up said...

"In a sense, there does not need to be proof of his complicity, for, simply allowing this atmosphere to prevail is proof enough of his evil."

I think you will find the world has moved on since the days of witch trials.

Conand said...

TBNGU Said:

'I think you will find the world has moved on since the days of witch trials.'

Absolutely! Aristocrattie Harperson was wrong to talk about the 'court of public opinion'.

Conand said...

Gordon Brown might not have been told all the details. They might have told him something vague about an 'attack website'.
Personally I think he knew all about it.

Brown is The First Sith Lord of The Treasury.

wild said...

"Tory Boys Never Grow Up" - Typical example of Leftist projection

Erskine May said...

The parallels with Nixon can be taken further in terms of personality types. According to James D. Barber in 'The Presidential Character', Nixon was an active-negative, that is, someone who poured boundless energy into the job but was never emotionally satisfied by the results. The active-negative is always striving for more. Life is seen as a series of ctises to be overcome. (Nixon titled his book 'Six Crises'). Perhaps most worryingly, Barber argued that a feature of this character type was a tendency to rigidify in the pursuit of a policy and, as a result, the capacity for self-destruction.

tory boys never grow up said...

Erskine May in your urge to smear Brown perhaps you forgot to note that John Adams, Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson were also classified as active negative Presidents by Barber - so what actually are you trying to say, based on what evidence?

Jimmy said...

"Do you truly believe that Brown, that control freak, did not know about the plans for Red Rag? "

Well obviously if I were planning a scurrilous humour gossip site, then Gordy would be top of my contributor wishlist.

Jesus wept.

Erskine May said...

tory boys never grow up:

Barber did indeed classify those presidents as active negative, along with Lyndon Johnson.

It is not a case of smearing Brown, any more than Barber was smearing Wooddrow Wilson, or any more than he was smearing Calvin Coolidge by classifying him as a passive-negative: it is a case of taking the attributes of the categorisations and seeing whether the actions of a particular individual appear, on the evidence available, to fit a particular categorisation. Brown appears to fulfil the attributes of an active-negative. In what respect does he not?