Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Did Blair really say Brown was psychologically flawed?

Blogger Iain Dale has been setting the political agenda again today following his 18 Doughty Street interview with former No 10 spin doctor Lance Price. In the interview, Price questioned the assumption that it was Alastair Campbell who first called Gordon Brown "psychologically flawed," suggesting that the phrase might actually have come from the Prime Minister himself.

It's a great scoop, as evidenced by the fact that Tony Blair was asked about it at Prime Minister's Questions earlier today.

But is Price telling the truth? Well, several things cause me to doubt that, I'm afraid, not least the fact that Price appears to be making a fine living at the moment out of the dishing dirt on his former employers.

Entertaining as this sort of thing may be for the press, and for the publishing industry generally, I can't help thinking it is bad for British government.

In his interview with Dale, Price also subtly misquotes the political commentator Andrew Rawnsley, who was the journalist originally on the receiving end of the "psychological flaws" comment and who wrote about it in his masterwork on early New Labour, Servants of the People.

Price says that Rawsnley described his source as "somebody with a better claim than anyone else to know the Prime Minister’s mind. Well, the only person with a better claim to know the Prime Minister’s mind than Alistair Campbell is, possibly Cherie, is the Prime Minister himself."

This is factually incorrect. The words Rawnsley actually used in Servants of the People were "someone who has an extremely good claim to know the mind of the Prime Minister."

Splitting hairs? Well, not really. Someone with a better claim than anyone else to know the Prime Minister's mind could only be Blair. Someone with merely an extremely good claim could be three or four people - Cherie, Campbell, Peter Mandelson, maybe even Jonathan Powell except that he doesn't often speak to journalists.

As it is, Blair has now denied it in the House, and loath as I am to admit that the Prime Minister might, for once, be telling the truth, this, for me, seems to settle the matter.

Why? Well, because if Blair is not telling the truth, he has just handed Andrew Rawnsley the golden bullet with which to put a fairly immediate end to his premiership.

If Rawnsley were now to reveal that it was indeed Blair who said it, then the Prime Minister will have lied to Parliament and he will be forced to resign.

Would Blair take such a risk with his political career even at this late stage? On balance, I think not.

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2 comments:

G Eagle Esq said...

Dear Paul

Women are a Mystery to me, but isn't it part of the human condition that everyone (at least among the men) is "psychologically flawed"

Surely it should be a greater concern that Mr Brown's Economic Policies are now beginning to unravel, with inflation & real unemployment levels rising, despite this Government's heroic efforts to conceal unemployment, with :

* so many public servants in unproductive jobs

* 1.2 million University students who will emerge with degrees into an economy that is unable to provide so many of them with jobs

* new-qualified Nurses/Occupational Therapists/Doctors emerging onto a job-market where the NHS is not providing them with jobs

* with so many jobs being exported abroad (including HP Sauce now produced in Holland instead of B'ham)

Your obedient servant etc

G E

barnacle_bill said...

Has anyone told Andrew Rawnsley this?
It would be very appropriate if the poodle were to be brought down by this seemingly insignificant remark.
Against all the other half truths, evasions, and spin we have had to put up with.