Wedging Open the Leadership Window; ANALYSIS

The Evening Standard (London, England), June 28, 2004 | Go to article overview

Wedging Open the Leadership Window; ANALYSIS


Byline: JOE MURPHY

MOST stories about Gordon Brown's views come from murky anonymous sources.

This one, however, was from the man himself. The Chancellor's statement alleging an "orchestrated" campaign of lies against him is breathtaking stuff.

There can be no doubt it was drafted by Mr Brown himself.

His words were issued by press secretary Ian Austin who says little most days but when he speaks, does so with his boss's full authorisation.

Nowhere does Mr Brown say explicitly who he blames for undermining him. The view at Westminster is that economist Derek Scott's book was just a red herring.

Certainly, Mr Brown's aides made no real attempt to stop it being written up as a full-throttle attack on No 10.

In Mr Blair's office, Mr Scott was seized on as a convenient scapegoat.

The Prime Minister's spokesman savagely accused him of writing the book "to make money by causing division and trouble".

No 10 also insisted Mr Brown's intemperate statement addressed itself solely to Mr Scott's book, refusing to acknowledge the obvious evidence that the Chancellor was going as close as he dared to accusing the Prime Minister's inner circle of a smear campaign.

The evidence, briefly, includes: Mr Scott is not named in the Brown statement; the description of an "orchestrated" campaign does not fit with an economist who was not part of any cabal but a bit of a loner; he has signed to a small publisher unlikely to give his book the "big treatment" to cause trouble; his book is mostly a serious economic tome - it will not make his fortune.

His anecdotes are hardly likely to be more damaging to Mr Brown than the recent Anthony Seldon biography which quotes the Chancellor urging Blair to "**** off and give me a date" and claims Cherie Blair called him "the rot at the heart of government". …

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