Peter Hoskin

Balls, McBride and off-the-record briefings

Balls, McBride and off-the-record briefings
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John Rentoul has already pulled the best passage from this preview of a forthcoming radio series on Gordon Brown. But I reckon that the testimony of Spencer Livermore, the former strategy chief in No.10, deserves a spot in the Westminster scrapbook:

"Mr Livermore, who was Downing Street's director of political strategy, regrets not warning about the downside of scrapping the election when Team Brown got cold feet as polling in marginal seats suggested only a slim Labour majority. 'I don't think it's possible. Does anyone?' the Prime Minister told his inner circle at the crucial meeting. The mood was 'very, very sombre', according to Mr Livermore.

Ed Miliband told Mr Alexander, Labour's campaign co-ordinator: 'I bet within 20 minutes we find we're going to get the blame for this.'

Mr Livermore said: 'Twenty minutes turned out to be slightly longer than it took… Damian [McBride] told me he had been instructed to blame certain individuals.' Mr McBride told Mr Livermore that the order had come from Mr Balls.

Mr Livermore was shocked but not surprised, claiming that Mr McBride – who later resigned over emails discussing a smear campaign against senior Tories based on untrue stories – in effect worked for Mr Balls as well as for Mr Brown."

denied the story

no time for off-the-record briefings