Gordon Brown v the National Bullying Helpline
Is Christine Pratt for real?
The bullying charities seem to be, er, bullying each other. Bullying UK has called on Christine Pratt, the boss (and founder) of the National Bullying Helpline, to resign. When will Beatbullying and BulliesOut join in on this latest confected controversy?
Actually, (bad) jokes aside, I think Bullying UK is right. This woman Pratt (don't worry, I won't call her a prat; that would be too easy) has no credibility left. How on earth did she think she could reveal confidential information about callers to her helpline, on national television, and expect to get away with it?
One of her patrons, Professor Carey Cooper, has now resigned, saying that she "breached confidentiality", and another patron -- the Tory MP Ann Widdecombe -- has said that the charity should have stayed out of the row. Talking of the Tories, why does Pratt pretend that her numerous links to the Conservative Party don't matter? Is she barking?
Questions have been raised as to whether the NBH is even a functioning charity -- but this, as Adam Bienkov points out, didn't ring "alarm bells at the BBC" over the weekend, as they gave extensive coverage to her claims. Shame on them.
Hillary Clinton once referred to the "vast right-wing conspiracy" behind the attacks on her (philandering) husband. She had a point. So are we now seeing something similar vis-à-vis Brown? I referred to the right-wing echo chamber in a column not long ago and, looking at the Sun's headline today ("The Prime Monster"), I can't help but think I was spot on.
But could this all backfire on the PM's critics, in the style of the Sun/Jacqui Janes/letter-writing "row" back in November? I suspect it might. And as I said on LBC yesterday, and as Jackie Ashley writes in the Guardian today, the idea that anyone out there will change their vote because of Andrew Rawnsley's gossipy book is nonsense.
The Rawnsley allegations about Brown remain exactly that -- allegations. The Cabinet Office has denied that the Cabinet Secretary called for an investigation of the PM's treatment of his staff, and former secretaries like Fiona Gordon have rejected the claims of bullying and mobile-phone-throwing inside No 10.
Meanwhile, one bullying case (from 2008) has been highlighted and proven at a London employment tribunal in recent months -- though largely ignored by the press. The bully? Andy Coulson, the then editor of the News of the World and now chief spinner for the Tory leader, David Cameron.
Downing Street secretaries, beware -- he's heading in your direction!
Tags: Gordon Brown