“I don’t think we’ll bother with that”
But what was it with which we wouldn’t bother? John Bercow, the Speaker, prevented David Cameron from quoting from Deborah Mattinson’s new book, Talking to a Brick Wall, at Prime Minister’s Questions today.*
Cameron was miffed, but accepted the rebuke with the courtesy we have come to expect.
It was wonderful free publicity for Mattinson, who used to be described as Gordon Brown’s personal pollster, although one of the revelations in the book is that she stopped working for him before the end (we are not told when), but stayed on “in name only” because
I was scared that if I publicly disassociated myself, Peter Mandelson and the No 10 spin machine would … attack me in the Press – that I would read articles about my own deficiencies and see it called a sacking.
Within minutes, Iain Dale’s Biteback Publishing had put out a press release headed “Deborah Mattinson’s new book is star of PMQs”.
One question remains: what was Cameron intending to quote from the book? Surely not all the unflattering but familiar descriptions of how difficult Brown was to work with, which were rehearsed in the Mail on Sunday at the weekend?
A well-placed source tells me that the PMQs prep team had obtained the book only 10 minutes before the session, and that the Prime Minister intended to read out what it says about Harriet Harman, a friend of Mattinson’s. But I’ve been through the index and the five references to Harman are rather dull.
I don’t think he was going to quote Michael Portillo’s foreword, which praises Tony Blair after the Iraq war, saying that voters gave him and Margaret Thatcher “credit for not being insipid”.
Perhaps he was just going to quote the subtitle: “How New Labour stopped listening to the voter and why we need a new politics.”
*Although the Hansard note-takers have Bercow’s words slightly differently: “No, we will not bother with that.”Tagged in: david cameron, deborah mattinson, john bercow
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