Perspective: It's Now or Never for Brown; Gordon Brown, the Would Be Labour PM, Is Turning Up the Volume and Has Already Shown His Contempt for New Labour, Says Chris Moncrieff

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Byline: Chris Moncrieff

They -that is the Government and its hangers-on -are trying to kid the rest of us that the reported spat between the Prime Minister and his Chancellor Gordon Brown is no more than a figment of the media's imagination.

The latest to pour scorn on these stories is Alastair Campbell, who was, until the summer, Tony Blair's communications supremo.

He described the claims as 'completely overblown'.

And just for good measure he added that the Blair-Brown axis was one of the most formidable political partnerships in British political history.

That may be so. They are, in their different ways, politicians of a very high calibre.

But that does not mean to say there is not a highly damaging personality clash between the two men.

Proof of that -if further proof were needed -came from the normally tightly-sealed lips of Mr Brown himself.

The fact that he went public over the Prime Minister's refusal to allow him to sit on Labour's ruling National Executive Committee is a clear demonstration of the personal and power struggle now being fought.

Brown is famous for his reticence over any issue which does not concern his running of the economy.

He does not gossip, whisper in dark corners behind cupped hands, and he certainly does not get involved in anything remotely associated with the politics of personality.

So it was totally out of character for him to go public and admit the truth of the reports that the Prime Minister has now effectively cut him out of the policy team to work out Labour's general election strategy.

And never let it be forgotten that a few years ago the words seeped out of Downing Street that Gordon Brown was 'psychologically flawed' -a more damaging insult could hardly be imagined.

Those words were not made up by the Sunday newspapers.

They were a deliberate attempt to smear the Chancellor who at the time maintained a dignified silence, although some of his aides did not. …