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Confessions of a Brownite

John Rentoul

mcb 225x300 Confessions of a BrowniteMost enjoyable morning being accused by Polly Toynbee on Radio 4 Today (8.15) of “stirring” things between Blairites and Brownites in an essentially united Labour Party. On the day that a Brownite serialised his memoir of viciousness and (a bit of) repentance in a Conservative newspaper.

I read the extracts on the Tube to the studio and my stomach lurched at Damian McBride’s description of his motive:

Until I completely lost my way at the end, everything I did as Gordon’s spin doctor, I did out of devotion, out of loyalty and out of some degree of love for the greatest man I ever met.

One imagines Brown as a cross between Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill and Albus Dumbledore.

Three other quotations stood out for me:

The unspoken word was from me to him [Brown], and said: “Don’t question my methods.”

That seems to sum up the Brownite operation: Brown, Ed Balls and Ed Miliband knew perfectly well what McBride was up to and trusted him to get on with it.

The second quotation is McBride’s absurd pretence that Brown’s campaign against Blair was about ideology. David Miliband had to be stopped, McBride says, because he was

determined, as Gordon would see it, to take the party down routes he had resisted for more than a decade — creeping privatisation of public services, closer integration with Europe.

The ideological division in the Labour Party is real enough, but it was exploited ruthlessly by Brown out of personal ambition rather than conviction.

The third quotation is from Liz Lloyd, Blair’s deputy chief of staff, to Benjamin Wegg-Prosser, the Blairite whose cache of emails was given to The Guardian yesterday as a spoiler for McBride’s book, about David Miliband in 2006:

I still cannot get up the courage to tell him his country needs him.

Why ever not?

Still, this morning Polly accepted that the Brownites behaved worse than the Blairites in that factional struggle. That’s a Labour gain.

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  • ZacMurdoch

    Yep, with you all the way on this one, JR

  • http://bit.ly/fbrutsch Francois Brutsch

    Wondered if I was going to see you yesterday at the ICA for the showing of “Our Nixon” – a documentary made of Super 8 home movies from Haldemann, Ehrlichmann and Chaplin. If you’re lucky you work for Churchill, Thatcher or Blair. But if you work for Nixon or Brown it’s the same sort of fascination and commitment…

  • reformist lickspittle

    Even with the attempt to smear EM by association??

    Any evidence that he knew and approved of what McBride got up to? Even some of the most diehard Blairites admit that he was easily the best of Brown’s supposed close circle for them to get on with.

  • newfriendofed

    If even Polly admits that Brownites behaved worse that Blairites it is probably true. However I think Blair behaved worse than Brown. I refer to his slippery behavior beginning with the Granita meal.

  • ZacMurdoch

    There isn’t a lot of evidenc around in cases like this – I guess that’s kind of the point. If you read the McBride extracts you’ll see that he got on best with Ed Miliband too – he probably is quite a nice guy to talk to, less rottweiler than Balls, but that’s a useful skill too because it gets people to share confidences. As a strong supporter of Brown and a full member of the key team around him (with Balls and McBride, and Douglas Alexander to a lesser extent), I think it’s more likely than not. After all, he told Blair to his face ‘why don’t you just go’, or words to that effect – John Rentoul will know.


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