I haven't written much about the troubles engulfing Gordon Brown on the main pages of ConservativeHome for two main reasons: (1) Almost everyone else is doing so and I'm not sure I can add that much that is insightful and (2) I think it's right that ConHome stays focused on being a record of what's going on inside the Tories - that's our USP.
But I was Iain Duncan Smith's political secretary during the last two months of his leadership. The situation facing Mr Brown isn't anywhere near as serious (yet) but I should imagine that the Brown camp is beginning to face some of the same pressures and they are only likely to grow. Three stand out in my memory...
Exhaustion. I remember getting out of bed before 5am during the worst of the crisis and not getting to bed until at least midnight. As my head touched the pillow it seemed that the start of the day had been three or four normal days ago. Everything was happening in fast and furious ways. Events that would normally fill a 24 hour news cycle were being displaced by new, bigger stories every two or three hours. The consequences were obvious. We were overwhelmed and weren't going to perform at our best.
Distrust. The core team around Iain was solid and very committed to him but the office was full of rumours about what was going on in the parliamentary party. I'll probably never know the full truth but MPs would ring constantly with allegations about what other MPs (many top rank) were saying or plotting.
Distraction. The frenetic nature of Iain's last few weeks (and I know that the Brown situation isn't nearly as bad yet) meant that our plans to launch a roadshow on our state pension plans and a campaign to stop the closure of special needs schools were either drowned in the media onslaught or completely shelved. It was impossible to function as a proper Opposition or policy operation. Downing Street's effectiveness will be increasingly compromised in the same ways now.
One big difference between the IDS and Brown bunkers would, I imagine, be the mood. Brown has a reputation for a notoriously bad temper. I remember a lot of (gallows) humour from Iain during that time but my strongest memory was a walk in St James's Park near the very end of the crisis. I cancelled two or three things in his diary and we went in search of some fresh air. It was early evening but already dark. Paul Baverstock, then Strategy Director was with us. We talked about the future and Iain insisted that, whatever happened, he'd keep pursuing his social justice agenda and, of course, he has. He described very clearly and systematically what he wanted to achieve. Looking back on that conversation it is incredible how much of it has come to pass.