Peter Hoskin

Getting around Gordon

Getting around Gordon
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Ok, ok, I get the message: you CoffeeHousers don't much care for James Purnell.  But this exchange between him and Nick Robinson, to be aired on Radio 4 later, is still worth a read:

"I asked James Purnell how you could get radical policies past a reluctant prime minister. Here's his reply:

James Purnell: The other thing that you could do is outflank and No 10, by trying to be more radical...you could just unilaterally go out and commission someone to review the system for you, and then the prime minister would be left with the choice of either firing you or pretending that they were into that idea all along.

Nick Robinson: ...are you suggesting that cabinet ministers commission reviews without the full knowledge of the prime minister in advance?

JP: Yes, they do, I did exactly that (laughter).

NR: Which one did you commission?

JP: Well the second time David Freud came back it wasn't necessarily cleared with the whole of the Whitehall machine, shall we say.

NR: It wasn't entirely clear that your views were shared in Downing Street at the time

JP: Not entirely, no" So I guess boldness can come out of disunity, after all.  Not that that's any consolation for Brown, when it comes to his would-be radical manifesto.