Alex Massie

Tales from the Downing Street Crypt

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Why aren't more people talking more about Andrew Rawnsley's book, The End of the Party? It's full of fascinating, appalling stories! Again, the Tories (and the Lib Dems) should be producing a Rawnsley Dossier on Brown. There's nae shortage of material that's for sure. Here's a bit from page 305:

The scene: Anthony Minghella has arrived to film a 2005 PPB featuring Gordon and Tony that's designed to show what good pals they are...

'It's all about working as a team,' Brown was recorded saying to the Prime Minister he wanted rid of. 'It's a partnership that has worked,' said Blair of the Chancellor he had planned to sack.

Before the filming began, Minghella did a warm-up exercise with his subjects to get them into the mood for some acting. The director gave each of them a notepad on which they were to write down the greatest achievement of the other man. On his notepad, Blair's looping handwriting paid tribute to Brown for: 'A strong economy'.

On his notepad, Brown wrote in his cramped script: 'A strong economy'. The Chancellor could think of no achievement that he wished to credit to Blair so he wrote down a tribute to himself instead.

Let us be charitable here: it's possible to think this was Brown making a joke. If so, it would be an unusually good and subtle one from a man not known for his humour, let alone irony. Even if Brown was joking, clearly Rawnsley doesn't think he was and if, as seems more probable, Rawnsley is correct then, well, let's just say it's one of many instances in the book that don't reflect well on Gordon. (There are plenty others that fail to flatter Blair too but, so far anyway, he doesn't come across as some kind of bean-hoarding psychopath.)

The source, unusually for this book (unlike Ranwsley's previous Labour chronicle) is given as "Private Information" which leads one to think that it's either Blair or someone close to him (Cherie? Campbell?) whom Blair told about it.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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