Gordon Brown: Labour’s Samson
More history of the recent past from Anthony Seldon and Guy Lodge in today’s Daily Mail, extracting the revised edition of their Brown At 10.
Three things struck me. One was the first assertion as fact, although in the book I suspect the footnote will be “private information”, that Gordon Brown personally put Jack Dromey up to his television interview in which he said that, as Labour Treasurer, he knew nothing about the secret loans that financed the 2005 election campaign. That helped to trigger the Metropolitan Police inquiry into the fanciful allegation that Tony Blair offered peerages in return for loans, which was never going to end in charges but which weakened Blair greatly.
Brown personally phoned Cabinet colleague Harriet Harman, who also happened to be wife of Jack Dromey, the Labour Party treasurer. Boldly, he instructed her to tell Dromey to make a speech advocating the ‘cleaning up’ of Labour’s funding, knowing that this would profoundly embarrass Blair.
The second is the assertion, again as fact, that Ed Balls “pressed the button” on the coup of September 2006, which forced Blair to set a 12-month time limit on his premiership:*
In the words of one of Brown’s inner team: ‘Ed concluded that Gordon had left it too late. If he didn’t press the button himself, nothing was going to happen.’ So Balls spoke to Tom Watson, the Brownite MP, and hatched a plot for a series of letters to be written by Labour MPs calling on Blair to stand down. Brown had full knowledge of the plan, though wasn’t told the exact timings.
But when Balls walked into his room, brandishing Tom Watson’s letter to Blair, Brown was shocked. ‘F****** hell, are you sure that’s not going too far?’ he asked.
‘It’s too late,’ was Balls’s cold reply.
Finally, it is worth noting, although I do not really agree with such pop psychology, the authors’ considered verdict on Brown’s character:
In our view, Gordon Brown is the most damaged personality to have become chancellor or prime minister since World War II.
I would put it more simply: wholly unsuited to public office.
*Update: A friend points out that this is not entirely new. It is in The End of the Party by Andrew Rawnsley, p391, sourced to “Brown inner circle”: “The coup was not run by Gordon. It was run by Ed. Gordon was almost horrified when he realised how far it had gone.”Tagged in: Gordon Brown
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