Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Brown's a Big Softie

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Brown's a Big Softie

Article excerpt

Gordon Brown may be a lapel-grabber, pen-stubber and Nokia-thrower-allegedly--but Oop North, where Labour people are really hard, he would be derided as a big softie. Take a recent "voter contact" in Doncaster, when the minister Rosie Winterton led a team to canvass in the Lonsdale Hotel pub. A mouthpiece for Winterton described what followed as a "minor scuffle", which left a troublesome heckler nursing a black eye, and a Labour supporter, who locals claimed to be ex-SAS, studying a police caution. Now that's never happened in No 10.

The Doncaster dust-up helps to explain why Bullygate did Brown no harm. The Lonsdale's manager, one Peter Moran, praised the bloke fighting for Labour votes. There was no sympathy for the victim. "The guy turned around and gave him a walloping. In my opinion, he didn't get as much as he deserved." Eat your heart out, Softie Brown. Hogarthian politics rule in modern Britain.

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The word is that "Sir" George Osborne doesn't fancy a three-way TV debate with Alistair Darling and Vince Cable. And who could blame him? Andy Coulson has woken up to the threat of Darling and Cable jointly tormenting his charge over public spending cuts, and favours a straight Darling-Osborne ding-dong. But Darling wants Cable included. It wouldn't be the first time Cabin Boy George has been picked on. As this column revealed three years ago, he was called "Oik Osborne" in the Bullingdon Club because he went to St Paul's--much more downmarket than Eton. …

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