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22 February 2010

Is Christine Pratt a bully?

And what is the definition of bullying?

By James Macintyre

Thanks to Paul Waugh, I have just caught up with the musings of one Christine Pratt of the National Bullying Helpline and her extraordinary interview with the excellent Gary Gibbon of Channel 4 News, who had to point out to Pratt that there is now no such thing as the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office, from where she claims to have received complaints in the past 18 months.

This woman, who must beyond any doubt be forced to resign, is clearly a crank and a flake, and not just because of her numerous ties to the Conservative Party. Who in their right mind would now call the helpline, knowing that at any time this strange woman might pop up on the airwaves to discuss that call? Her determination to “stand up” the Observer’s allegations at the cost of the confidentiality of those who approach her organisation could at best be called publicity-seeking, and at worst be called politically motivated bullying.

But also, we need to define bullying here. I have long written about Gordon Brown’s “dark side”, and of how he and his key ally Ed Balls can bully colleagues, in the sense of undermining them to their own gain.

But in the sense of bullying as those outside the Westminster village know it — in the playground and in the workplace — is Brown really a bully? Does he take pleasure out of inflicting pain on people in his office? Does he relentlessly target “Garden Girls” in No 10 with cruel insults? Does he sneak up on staffers and flick their ears?

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This is turning into a very dangerous row indeed, and the only certain outcome — as with the MPs’ expenses scandal — is an unprecedentedly low turnout among a truly sickened electorate.

By the way, for an interesting take on this, and a warning to David Cameron against getting involved, see Peter Hitchens’s blog today.

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