Fraser Nelson

How they are trying to discredit Blears

How they are trying to discredit Blears
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I was sitting next to Lord Mandelson in Simon Mayo's R5 studio and witnessed a class act. Poor Hazel, he said, she had all that blowback from her dodgy home flipping expenses "found all the world on her doorstep" and was being pursued by the media. Poor love. She wanted to have done with it. She couldn't carry on, not for a single day more. You musn't underestimate the effect this has had on the poor fragile wee thing, he says. Full of concern, you see, for her wellbeing. Damian McBride would have been far more brutal, saying "Blears quit because of her OWN GUILT and you know what there was MORE DIRT COMING - enough to BURY THE GREEDY WOMAN thats why she CRACKED UNDER THE PRESSURE and may her God have mercy on her:". Lord Mandelson makes this message sound so much more smooth, so much more acceptable: almost compassionate.

But the briefing against her has begun. John Pieenar said that Whitehall sources suggested to him that Blears quit because there was more dirt to come. As Andy Porter's story in the Telegraph says:

"It is understood that a Cabinet Office compliance unit looking at ministers’ arrangements has uncovered another property sale, in which Miss Blears declared the property as her primary residence for tax purposes while at the same time telling the Commons authorities that it was her designated second home."

As far as I can work out, this is the first piece of dirt that has even purported to come from the merged operation which is No10/Cabinet Office. Either this means Brown is hitting back - his natural instinct, of course - or that he intends this to be a warning shot. "Another squeak from you, chipmunk, and we'll release so much dirt on you that you'll stand zero chance of winning Salford. You'll find the Cabinet Office and No10 can do its own Daily Telegraph operation - but there will be no mercy from us." Blears has, quite rightly in my view, made clear that No10 is briefing against her. As James says, she may well retaliate. Brown and even Mandelson may find that the Iron Chipmunk is not so easily intimidated.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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