We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Disturbing reports have emerged that Gordon Brown is rude to his secretaries – or garden girls, as they are known inside Downing Street. He is said to shout at them abusively. On one occasion he is reported to have impatiently turfed one of the girls out of her chair and sat down to use the keyboard himself.

All recent prime ministers – Thatcher, Major, Blair – were loved by the garden girls. All recent prime ministers from time to time endured problems. Only Gordon Brown has vented his frustrations on secretaries, who can never answer back or speak for themselves. In the end this intemperate and regrettable conduct may cause him as much damage as Mr Abrahams.

– the sting in the tale of an article in the latest Spectator by Peter Oborne under the heading At the heart of the Labour funding scandal is the moral collapse of a once-great party.

20 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Alice

    An earlier occupant of high office in another land abused young women & female job seekers in ways much more demeaning than merely shouting at them — and yet Clinton is still a hero to US feminists to this day. Brown probably does not have to worry about catching any flack from the reliably left-wing British media for alleged boorish conduct towards “garden girls”.

  • fooltomery

    A person who verbally assaults his/her employees cannot be trusted not to abuse his/her power in other, even more despicable and dangerous ways. Shame on Gordon Brown. And, by the way,

    Sic transit gloria Hillary.

  • Kevyn Bodman

    If these reports are correct they show that Brown is unfit for any supervisory job let alone any job with a leadaership role.
    No matter how impressive a man might be on TV, at the Despatch Box, at cocktail parties or making presentations to his bosses these things tell you *nothing* about him compared to what his treatment of those lower in the organisation tell you.
    Not enough people understand that, and the most appalling suck-ups can survive and prosper because their true lack of quality is disguised.
    We’ve had suck-ups aplenty in government in the last 10 years. (Of course suck-ups can prosper in industry too; they certainly do where I work.)
    If these stories about Brown are true then I would hope they become widely known.They are greatly to his discredit.

    As for Hillary Clinton, I remember something James Carvill (sorry, can’t check spelling) wrote about her, and I’ll have to paraphrase.
    ‘When she became successful she never forgot her family ; and no member of her staff has ever betrayed her.You don’t need to know anything else about her.’

    I think that’s greatly to her credit.

  • Nick M

    Alice, there is no hint that Ms Lewinsky was anything but a willing co-conspiritor. Consensual sex with a secretary might be sordid (for example a blow-job in the Oval Office) but it’s hardly directly comparable with just being generally beastly to the secretarial staff. Clinton may have been sleazy but Brown is just a git. Even Hitler was good to the typing pool.

  • Nick, it wasn’t just Monica, there were many others, and, at least allegedly, not all of them have consented. But your general point stands. Clinton is a master of human interaction.

    As to Hillary, yes, it does speak to her credit, but only to a certain extent. When one’s employees are content, one first needs to examine what kind of people we are talking about. Maybe they are just a bunch of yes-men and suck-ups, and any other kind would not have had a chance of getting the job in the first place. Besides, there is this.

  • Nick M

    I have an ulterior motive. The sordid Lewinsky affair seems in the popular imagination to have totally overshadowed other Clintonian dubiousnesses such as Whitewater.

  • What Kevyn says.

    I never trust a person who is rude to those they think inferior.

    Most certainly, industry is infested with suck-ups and other insecure sorts, ladder-kickers and beastly cowards/bullies (same thing). This is a culture thing and can only be sorted from the top down.

    As it seems the UK has rot at the top. Libertarians know what to do with rotten wood, tumours and parasites.

    I am certain Churchill was a curmudgeon, but I suspect he was a gentleman to his secretaries.

  • one time only


    To have a single source is not ideal.

    When that source is snopes.com, you’re really scraping the barrel.

    And when that source is explicitly uncommitted to the stance you’re adopting, and provides an alternative thesis (ie Time magazine) it just looks ridiculous.

    Sorry to be so blunt. Though not a Libertarian in the mould of contributors here, I generally enjoy the thought-provoking content.

  • Kevyn Bodman

    Thanks.I read that link with interest.
    As for its reliability, I don’t know. We know that James Carville is partisan.I’m guessing the secret service agent who leaked this is partisan too.
    Where is the truth? Carville put his name to his but this link is – ‘source: the internet.’ Nevertheless, I did enjoy reading it, and it might have a sound basis.

    Going off-topic a little, I have a friend in Boston, MA. who is a Republican (in a minority there, of course.) but not really interested in politics. She tells me that she, and many others think that Hillary simply isn’t likeable, but George W is.
    But she says Bill Clinton is utterly overwhelming in person and can make anyone, including Republicans, feel captivated when they meet him.
    A young man I met a few years ago had worked as an intern when Gore was VP. He met Clinton in a receiving line and for those few seconds had the feeling that Clinton felt that the young man was the most important person in the world. He knew that everyone in the line was same the same treatment but said it made NO difference to his own reaction.

    I didn’t like or trust Tony Blair although many did, and I don’t think much of Brown either, but I wonder if Blair’s likebility would have helped him had he experienced the same sort of events that Brown has had in the last month.
    It’s not sophisticated policy analysis, but politics is only partly about policy, isn’t it?

  • llamas

    A good gauge of the character of anyone that you work with in business is to see how they treat people far below them on the organizational ladder – admins, janitors and so forth.

    If they treat those people badly – rude, condescending, impatient, demanding – then this tells you two things about the person, viz

    – they are highly situational and inconsistent. They treat other people that way because they can. They’ll do the same to you – if they can, and

    – they are remarkably stupid, because smart people in business know that those people can be the making or the breaking of your careful efforts, and that you’ll have a much greater chance of success if they’re with you and not against you.

    Being rude and boorish to the help is (IMHO) a sure sign of a semi-sociopathic personality.



  • Alice

    there is no hint that Ms Lewinsky was anything but a willing co-conspiritor.

    Indeed! But the real victims of that incident, seen through feminist eyes, were all the other young female interns who did not play the humidor to Big Bill’s Nasty Cigar — Monica got a paid job with the Clinton Administration , the others did not.

    So, to a feminist, Clinton’s behavior was unacceptable — even if Monica loved every moment of her experience. Yet those feminists sold out their fellow women by maintaining support for Clinton.

    My guess is that the same will happen with Brown and his obnoxious behavior towards the hired help. It will be ignored by the leftists in the media.

    By the way, I agree absolutely with the comments about bad behavior towards subordinates being a clear sign of future problems. If those stories about the “garden girls” are true, Brown is an ass as well as a jerk. But the leftists at the Guardian and the BBC will be able to look past it.

  • Brian


    I have just been reading William Manchester’s biography of Churchill. Apparently he behaved abominably towards his secretaries. But for some reason (perhaps they recognised his intrinsic decency underneath the irascible exterior) they still admired him and thought him the great man he was.

  • Brian

    I don’t suppose anyone will mistake Bill Clinton for a great man.

  • DocBud

    “At the heart of the matter is the financial, organisational and above all moral collapse of a once great political party.”

    Has anyone got a time and date when Labour was a great political party? I suppose it depends on one’s definition of great political party.

  • One time only: Snopes is not a source, I only used it because I don’t have the original e-mail on hand, and also to demonstrate that stories like this are very difficult to confirm, for obvious reasons (see Kevyn’s last comment as well). Besides, not only that it clearly states that the veracity of the story is “Undetermined”, but under “Origins” Snopes takes a completely pro-Clinton line.

  • Sunfish

    I don’t know if this constitutes data or not, but the fastest change-of-subject I’ve ever seen was when I asked a USSS agent what Hillary Clinton was like.

    I don’t know what I think of the thrown-book-in-limo story. I’m having a hard time with the notion that a presidential limosine didn’t have an interior barrier. The only thing implausible about the agent-won’t-carry-both-suitcases story is that I would have gone with “F**k you, I quit” halfway through.

    One person commented on the title “Secret Service Officer” as being incorrect and how that discredits the story. Not quite. USSS has a uniformed division which does patrol and physical security at the White House and a few other places. I think its members are mostly series 0083 Special Police Officers[1] but I could be wrong.

    [1] uniformed security guards. They attend a police academy roughly similar to the one I attended, prior to working, and have police powers when on Federal property.

  • one time only

    Alisa – well, ok, but if you used it, it’s your source. I’d obviously like to read the original. Is it appreciably different ?

    And let’s allow that Snopes ‘Origins’ takes a pro-Clinton line…(I don’t, for the record – esp. having read Hitchens’ account)

    I think it’s still less pro- than you are anti-. And you’re offering not much of substance.

    What does it mean to say that something is to Hillary’s credit ‘only to an extent’ ?

    Do you mean to the extent that you won’t just give James Carvill’s reasoned (and determinable) observations more weight than your own unreasoned one – that ”When one’s employees are content, one first needs to examine what kind of people we are talking about.”

    I just don’t agree that that’s a necessary place to start. Either here, or in general.

  • One time only: well, that’s a fair point. I should have said: “when one tries to deduce the employer’s character from their relationship with their employees, one first needs to examine what kind of people these employees are.”

    Of course I am not offering much substance, neither does Carvill (how is his account determinable?). It is all hearsay, in one form or another – that was my entire point, and that also includes the report to which Brian linked. The only way to get close to the truth in such cases is to hear the employees’ first hand account, while at the same time determining their character, and also making sure they are not threatened with retaliation of any kind – much the way things are (or should be) done in court.

  • one time only

    Well, we’re coming to congruity, though I’d argue that Carvill’s assertion can be tested by seeing whether or not any of HC’s minions have ever dished the dirt.

    By the way, if you haven’t already read it, I’d recommend that Christopher Hitchens book on the happy couple ”No-one Left to Lie To”.

    What a pair they are.

    Best wishes.

  • Thanks, but I think I’ll skip that one: even the little I know is disgusting enough.

    Be good:-)