David Blackburn

Four politicians singing the same tune...

Four politicians singing the same tune...
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Cabbies have a reputation for telling tall tales, but Stephen Byers could be in a league of his own. Lords Adonis and Mandelson have stated, categorically, that Byers is lying: he did not alter government policy. If so, why on earth did he liken himself to (though I would use a more lurid epithet) a 'cab for hire'?

This affair is being obscured by thickening smoke. Each new answer poses further questions. Mandelson’s outright denial contrasts with yesterday’s amnesia. The Sunday Times quoted Mandelson as having “no recollection” of a conversation which Byers alleges took place. There is subtle difference between denying something happened and being unable to recall it.

But that’s not the half of it. Presumably Byers petitioned in the style of Harpo Marx and Marcel Marceau, because he claims not to have spoken “to Andrew Adonis … or Peter Mandelson about the matters I mentioned.” Gary Gibbon reports that a Cabinet Minister is portraying Byers as a “desperate” loose-cannon, on the take for anything he can get. Adonis’s comments imply a similar analysis: “There is no truth whatsoever (in these claims)” and Adonis hadn’t the “faintest idea” why Byers made them. Fifteen years of spin makes one automatically suspicious of four politicians standing in a ragged chorus line and gradually coming to sing the same tune.