That was the rebuttal issued by Peter Mandelson on the Andrew Marr show this morning in response to allegations in the new-look Observer.

The paper is serialising a book by its chief political commentator Andrew Rawnsley - The End of the Partywhich charts the fortunes of the Labour party under both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Chief among the allegations is that Sir Gus O'Donnell, the cabinet secretary, became so concerned by reports of Brown's explosive temper that he looked into the matter and told the PM: 'This is no way to get things done'.

To no great surprise Downing Street is adamant Rawnsley's claims are untrue. As well as the aforementioned Mandelson interview, the Cabinet Office has denied any such warning was made. In addition, Brown himself moved to pre-empt the Observer's allegations. 'Let me just say, absolutely clearly, so that there is no misunderstanding about that: I have never, never hit anybody in my life,' he said in an interview with Channel 4 News.

Rawnsley is sticking with his story.

'I approached this subject acutely aware that a rumour is not the same as a fact,' he says in a piece published in the paper today.

'I set a rule that I would not publish anything about an episode involving abusive behaviour unless I had secured utterly reliable accounts. Some incidents which came to my attention have been excluded even when I was convinced they were true because I was not quite satisfied with the evidence for them. Investigation of other incidents secured eyewitness accounts from impeccable sources of shocking episodes, some of which are included in today's extract. Only once I was absolutely satisfied about the veracity of a story did it go in the book. The sources are 24 carat.'

Confronting criticism that the serialisation and publication of the book is simply a ploy to boost sales and circulation, Rawnsley says:

'It is a journalist's duty to both himself and to his readers to be unflinchingly truthful about the flaws of the powerful. It is equally an obligation to give credit where it is due. The book strives to offer a balanced account of Labour's time in office, highlighting the achievements as well as exploring the failures. In today's serialisation, you can also sample part of the account of the financial crisis during which Gordon Brown displayed some of his positive attributes as a leader. In October 2008, even those cabinet colleagues and civil servants who were otherwise in utter despair about the prime minister were admiring of the boldness and imagination with which he reacted to the crisis by producing a blueprint for saving the financial system which was broadly copied around the world.

'The Good Gordon and the Bad Brown co-exist in the clever, proud, sensitive, raging, tearful, tormented, complex man who has ruled Britain for nearly three years and now asks for his tenure to be extended for another five. Before they make their choice, the public deserves to be fully acquainted with both Browns.'

I couldn't agree more.


I'm not sure the Rawnsley revelations quite lived up to their 'explosive' front-page billing. As far as I can work out from the serialisation, the "shocking episodes" that he had so painstakingly cross-sourced amounted to: a lapel-grabbing incident, an upholstery punch, some pen marks on a car seat, a few sprinklings of the f-word, and that telling moment where Brown, er, goes to bed early on New Year's Eve. Oh yes, and at one point he takes over the typing of a letter from a secretary.

Not sure this is really behaviour that will "shock the political world" as the Obs political editors suggest. Maybe none of them have ever been near a Daily Mail news conference.

Meanwhile the Obs redesign is a rather curious affair.

I like the chunkiness of the New Review section. Its rolling together of a number of former sections, along with some new ones, maximises the opportunities for serendipitously finding something you didn't expect to be interested in. Which is what Sunday newspapers are all about.

But the new-look magazine is just bizarre. It's pointlessly back-to-front in its structure. They've bunged all the frivolous style stuff up at the front,  so now we have to wade through page after page of bittiness - all those tedious recipes, restaurant reviews, pointless fashion pages and gardening tips  - before getting to anything worth reading. Daft.

Ian Reeves is head of the Centre for Journalism

And the review, as you say, does make leisurely stumbling more likely.

The comment section was particularly strong today, I thought - the main leader and Will Hutton were great - but that bit's pretty much exactly the same design.

Overall - pretty good. Dunno if I agree with you about the magazine, those are my gf's favourite bits so maybe they were right to put them at the beginning...? Have to say, though, its contents page simply defies logic, why is 'Once upon a life' a 'regular', whereas Mariella is under 'Life and Style' - these aren't exclusive categories. It's just confusing.


I'm not keen on the re-design. It rather flattered to deceive. If it hadn't been for the Rawnsley stuff, the chunkier news section might have looked rather less impressive. I did like the main newspaper bit but then I always did and the sports section appears to have escaped major surgery. My biggest gripe is that the've crammed the remaining stand-alone supplements into one - and it looks like the proverbial quart into a pint pot. Very messy. Travel seemed almost invisible - about half a page

The magazine is OK but I had trouble reading the minute font but heh, maybe people with vision issues are not their target demographic...

Compare and contrast with the Saturday Guardian which rather pointedly luxuriated in all its usual space....



'They have all got books to sell, we in contrast have got a country to run'