Gladstone's Red Box
courtesy of the National Archives
Fellow blogger Old Rightie has periodically mentioned Gordon Brown's 'bunker' in No 10. Little did he realise his musings weren't far off the mark.
Iain Martin has uncovered another little historical detail that reveals quite a lot about the way in which No 10 was run under Gordon Brown.
To summarise: It has been tradition for ministerial papers to be placed in 'red boxes' by officials at the end of their working day. The red boxes are then delivered to the relevant minister for them to work through them during the evening until they are empty.
But this wasn't good enough for Gordon Brown. He had a special signing room set aside and officials would lay out on a large table the papers that various ministers, officials and departments wanted dealt with. Brown would then scan the selection, review those which caught his attention and sign them with his black marker pen. Other papers would just be left.
There is more detail on Iain Martin's blog. The fact that Sarah Brown requested a string of experts be brought in when she realised her husband was struggling speaks volumes.
More verification that Gordon Brown thought himself to be superior to all his predecessors. Is it any wonder we're in the mess we are if the then Prime Minister was picking and choosing issues instead of making decisions on everything laid before him.
Thankfully David Cameron has returned to the tried an tested tradition of receiving his red box each evening. A small change in government procedure from Labour's days, but a welcome one.