In 1930s Munich gangs of swaggering Brownshirts would strut around the bars and beer cellars alive for any hint of dissent; when they found it, they would silence it with fists and boots. Bullies who can't coherently articulate an argument always prefer to employ enforcer thugs to silence criticism.
There's always been a thuggish tendency to Labour, but until Brown the party leaders have always kept it under control. No longer. Yesterday saw our own domestic Brownshirts brawling in the Commons chamber; fifteen whips mingled with the backbenchers in Labour's ranks to yell, shout abuse and generally cause as much disruption as possible. The Tories may have won the vote to have a debate on the emergency budget, but Brown was determined that Osborne's voice should not be heard.
Quentin Letts in the Mail compares it to wild west saloon. It was nothing of the kind. It was a thuggish beer cellar assault by hoodlum Brownshits on a group of social democrats.
That this was led and orchestrated by Labour's whips lays the responsibility clearly at Brown's door; they would never have acted without his explicit authority. This demonstrates more than anything that the fey feartie o'Fife is running scared - running scared of the truth, running scared of the bullying bluster being stripped away to expose the vacuum beneath.
Very well. If Labour are mobilising their thugs and Brown has given his Brownshits free rein to let fly with their fists and boots then the lines are being clearly drawn. He fears the truth - let's tell the truth. He fears debate - let's invite debate. He can't think on his feet - let's push him on the back foot. Now he's drawn his cudgel, let's counter with a rapier.
A man who can authorise this thuggish response in the Commons chamber is capable of much worse. Let's be in no doubt - this will be a fight to the finish, with no quarter.