New uses for old bunkers #14: Gordon Brown’s last days in the bunker

In my 2011 article exploring the links between the metaphorical and material invocation of bunkers for Culture & Organization (Bennett 2011) I briefly drew attention to the ways in which the hostile print media hinted at parallels to Adolf Hitler’s last days in his Berlin bunker in their depictions of the end of Gordon Brown’s Prime Ministership. In allusions to Brown’s fatigue, stumbling with words and involuntary facial twitches the beleagured PM was cast as a physical embodiment of his crumbling regime. And Downing Street became portrayed as Brown’s ‘Bunker’.

An article in the Daily Telegraph, dated 5th June 2009 asked ‘Will Brown’s bunker mentaility finally destroy him?’ whilst a Daily Mail piece written on the day of Brown’s eventual resignation (13 May 2010) co-opted a photo essay by Martin Argles (originally commissioned for the left leaning The Guardian) of Brown’s last day in office, and gave it a bunker twist under the captioned : ‘The final moments in the bunker as Gordon Brown and Labour allies say farewell to No10’.

And there are many more ‘Brown’s bunker’ allusions that could be listed here. But the following video (one of a variety of ‘mash-ups’ using fraught clips from the film Downfall to parody a variety of current affairs issues), best captures this potent bunker-trope at work. In the juxtaposition of images of Hitler’s final days and the language and pre-occupations of the last days of Brown’s rule we see this bunker image being mobilised, as it often is, for political ends.

And its not just Brown – the bunker seems to frequently surface in the portrayal of the fall of vilified leaders: but perhaps with a recent twist. The ranting from secret bunkers in the regimes last days gives way to every fallen dictator seeming to end up found in a dank improvised bunker-substitute (Gaddafi in a storm drain; Saddam Hussein in a hole; Osama Bin Laden in his mundane compound); and their final final-hours absence from their abandoned glittering fortified palaces and command centres is foregrounded in the victor’s narrative.

Bennett, Luke (2011). The Bunker: metaphor, materiality & management. Culture and Organization, 17 (2), 155-173. Link to published version:: 10.1080/14759551.2011.544894 (free access via


About lukebennett13
Reader & Course Leader, BSc Hons Real Estate, Sheffield Hallam University, UK. I TEACH: built environment law to construction, surveying, real estate and environmental management students. I RESEARCH: metal theft; urban exploration & recreational trespass; occupiers' perceptions of liability for their premises. I THINK: about the links between ideas, materialities and practices in the built environment. I WAS: an environmental lawyer working in commercial practice for 17 years before I joined academia in 2007. I EXPLAIN: the aims of my blogsite site here: LINKS: Twitter: @lukebennett13; Archive: EPITAPH: “He lived at a little distance from his body, regarding his own acts with doubtful side-glances.” James Joyce, Dubliners

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