Sunday, October 21, 2007

 

Lid Taken Off Those Final Blair-Brown Rows


I used to work with Anthony Seldon and am hugely admiring of his biographies. His book on Blair is a masterpiece of astonishing industry and sound judgement. Ih addition to all this: he manages to head up a major independent school at the same time and gives all his royalties to educational charities. So his most recent production-Blair Unbound- deserves to be taken seriously, even if it is serialised in the awful Mail on Sunday.

I realise this picking over the bones of a defunct feud is strictly 'anorak' territory but as one of these anoraks, I can't resist it. Several points stand out for me from this first serialisation:

1. Brown's aides, the two Eds, Balls and Miliband both hated Blair with the former judging him a 'moron' (how come the brother of the latter could be such a dedicated Blairite then?). On 5th may 2006 in the wake of disastrous Euro-election results and a botched reshuffle, Brown appeared on the Today programme. When he failed to find the words to call on Blair to finally go, rousing the party to make it happen, Balls was furious and 'screamed at his boss "you bottled it"'.

2. Further to the above Balls was said to resemble the Dirk Bogarde character in the film, The Servant, insidiously working his way into a position where he virtually controlled his employer.

3. Blair sacked Cook because he was becoming too powerful and did not want to be faced by someone formidable in the Treasury as well as the Foreign Office. He also knew, that unlike Brown, the 'loner' Cook had little support in the party.

4. Jack Dromey's revelation that Labour had financed the 2005 campaign with loans from private donors ignited the 'cash for peerages' story which brought Blair so low. Seldon suggests this was a straightforward pro Brown ploy originating with his '110%' pro Gordon wife Harriet Harmon, still smarting from her dismissal by Blair in 1998. (And didn't she gush over Gordon in her conference speech?)

5. Brown insisted that Blair prevent anyone standing against him in the election following the latter's departure. This despite the fact that Blair had no power to prevent anyone standing: this perhaps reflects Brown's authoritarian cast of mind on such matters. Blair did eventually hope someone would stand but this faded when David Miliband decided against(wonder what brother Ed advised?).

6. The negotiations between both camps in the autumn of 2006 was marked by extreme fractiousness. The 'Two Eds' were so abusive Blair complained 'I feel like an abused wife'. Jonathan Powell, incidentally refused to join in these negotiations as he could not stand to be in the same room as Gordon Brown.

We all knew the passions behind the scenes were running high during key periods in 2004 and 2006 but I was frankly surprised Brown was so ruthless and his aides so arrogant on his behalf. Not a pretty period in Labour history, but I daresay similar things happened within high commands of Thatcher, Wilson and Heath as well as governments down the centuries. The disappointing thing, perhaps, is that passions were raised to such a pitch, not through clashes of principle or ideology, but that sadly so, so familiar motive: dirty old personal ambition.

Comments:
Thanks for your precis of the Seldon book. I have also written about this at my blog. I hadn't paid much attention to the 'honours' link with Dromey and Harmon. I must re-read the "awful Mail's" stuff again.

You said: Jack Dromey's revelation that Labour had financed the 2005 campaign with loans from private donors ignited the 'cash for peerages' story which brought Blair so low. Seldon suggests this was a straightforward pro Brown ploy originating with his '110%' pro Gordon wife Harriet Harmon, still smarting from her dismissal by Blair in 1998.

This honours analysis, if the Dromey/Brown plan is accurate is absolutely unforgiveable! They would have known that Blair and others could have ended up inside for this! And why? Just for trying to shuffle money about for the sake of the party! What absolute bastards Blair's had sitting alongside and behind him.

I can smell the resentment from here. And no wonder.

Many thanks. I'll add reference to your blog at my page:

http://keeptonyblairforpm.wordpress.com/2007/10/21/brown-eff-off-tony/
 
Defunct feud, Bill? Not if Mandelson, Milburn, Byers et al have anything to do with it.
 
Anon
Thanks for this- it's an interesting site.
Paul
As a Labour member I just hope feelings don't begin to resemble those in the Tory party post Maggie's 'Assassination'.
 
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