Someone I know who used to work at Labour HQ has told me a tale which goes some way to explaining why Gordon Brown isn't hugely popular among party staffers.
Just after Brown became Prime Minister, the then General Secretary of the Labour Party thought it would be a good morale building exercise if Gordon Brown payed a visit to Party HQ to meet and rally the troops. The PM agreed and so one day last summer he turned up at Labour's Victoria Street offices to deliver a pep talk. All was going swimingly. He made a short speech, then toured the open plan offices, stopping at each person's desk for a quick word.
After he had left, the excited party officials, still high on the adrenaline of meeting their hero, compared notes on their respective conversations with the PM.
"He said 'how's your desk?'" said the first woman. "That's funny, that's exactly what he asked me," said someone else. "And me," said a third. And so it went on.
It turned out that the only thing Gordon Brown could think of to say was to ask everyone if they were happy with the position of their desks.
I was telling someone this story this afternoon and they made a very telling remark. "Of course, stories like this could be apocryphal, but the fact that I can quite believe it to be true says it all.". As Shane Greer constantly reminds me, perception is everything.
Does anyone have other examples of Gordon Brown's inability to conduct 'small talk'?