The Spectator

Mo Mowlam, not as useful as she was popular

Mo Mowlam, not as useful as she was popular
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August 17th, 1998 on how useless Mo Mowlam was in drafting a statement after the Omagh bomb:

“We then had the ludicrous situation of TB having to ask Mo for her fax number, and her shouting out ‘Anyone out there who knows the fax number?’ and then saying the officials had disappeared. It was the Mo manner that was fine when things didn’t matter, but deeply irritating when they did. She sounded more and more exasperated. ‘I’ll say whatever you want, Tony,’ she said, at which point he exploded at her… she then lost the plot completely… Mo was getting near hysterical. TB said to her if you went out and read that statement as you read it to us earlier, you will be dead. I mean dead, totally out of the water. No one would take you seriously. She said: “I’d rather be dead than carrying on like this. I don’t care any more.’”

Comment: Mo Mowlam proved that being popular didn’t mean you were any good: she might have had an adoring crowd because of her down to earth manner, but she was a useless politician. The exchange above details how Mowlem completely failed to understand the political realities of the aftermath of the Omagh bomb, and how TB had to rescue her. In response she acted like a petulant, ungrateful school child. It is clear what a low opinion many in Downing Street had of her, and explains why Blair was so exasperated with her, sometimes almost in public.

Anthony Browne, director of the think-tank Policy Exchange and prior to that the chief political correspondent of The Times, is plucking out the most interesting passages from the just published Alastair Campbell diaries for Coffee House.