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The Dr Mike Drayton Column

ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST...STRAIGHT INTO NUMBER 10

13-09-2006

Top Birmingham psychologist Dr Mike Drayton gets in some long distance analysis of the Chancellor Gordon Brown as colleagues question his mental make-up.

In an interview with last Saturday's Daily Telegraph, former Home Secretary Charles Clarke called Gordon Brown a deluded control freak. He added, that the chancellor has psychological issues that he must confront. Is this an accurate depiction of the mental state of the second most powerful politician in Britain?

I've never met Gordon Brown so I don't know. However, Charles Clarke is a leading politician and one would hope that he is a fairly measured individual not prone to impulsive or ill considered name calling.

When somebody is called a control freak it often means that they have what psychologists call an Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder. Here are some of the characteristics that might indicate such a personality:

The person is perceived by others as being rigid, stubborn and controlling. The person is a perfectionist and obsessed with detail. The person is a workaholic with few leisure pursuits. The person will not co-operate or delegate tasks unless others agree to do things their way. The person is parsimonious and stingy and will hoard money for the future.

From what we know about Gordon Brown from the media, does this seem like a fair description of him? It certainly isn't far off his stereotype and chimes with Charles Clarke's description of him.

Now while it is easy to see how characteristics such as attention to detail, stubbornness and parsimoniousness, would be useful in a Chancellor of the Exchequer, you could question whether these qualities make for a good Prime Minister. Charles Clarke said of him in the same interview that his massive weakness is that he can't work with other people.

He also criticizes Brown for being over cautious and trying to micro-manage. and that he's not a risk taker- this matters - you've got to be a risk taker in politics. The courage question is a big thing for Gordon. Again, this description would fit the profile of the obsessive-compulsive personality.

There's the old cliche often trotted out in the media about judging political parties by policies not personalities. What about judging them on what they actually do, which is often miles away from official party policy. I would suggest that the actions of a government are at least partly determined by the personality characteristics and emotional health of the cabinet.

How else can we begin to explain irrational, unpopular actions such going to war in Iraq, cash for peerages and the current civil war in the Labour party, all of which of course would never have been included in the party manifesto.

Some Labour party members have condemned Gordon Brown's recent behaviour and Charles Clarke's statements saying that they have sabotaged Labour's chances of a further term in office. But what about Tony Blair, whose behaviour has triggered the present-in-fighting? What kind of person is he? Who is the real saboteur? I will try and answer that question next week.

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