Brown's Day of Turmoil Af Ter Peer Says: He's No Blair; Clash: Angela Smith with Gordon Brown Last Year

Daily Mail (London), April 18, 2008 | Go to article overview

Brown's Day of Turmoil Af Ter Peer Says: He's No Blair; Clash: Angela Smith with Gordon Brown Last Year


Byline: James Chapman

GORDON Brown's woes deepened last night when a member of his governmentthreatened to quit and a Labour peer said the Prime Minister was 'put on earthto remind us how good Tony Blair was'.

Lord Desai likened Mr Brown's style to 'porridge or maybe haggis' and claimedhis weaknesses, combined with an economic downturn, would make it 'verydifficult' for Labour to win the next election.

A few hours after his attack Angela Smith, previously a fiercely loyalParliamentary private secretary, told colleagues she was ready to quit theTreasury over Mr

Brown's abolition of the 10p starting rate of tax.

Sheffield Hillsborough MP Miss Smith is chief aide to Treasury chief secretaryYvette Cooper, a member of Mr Brown's inner circle.

Her threat triggered panic in the Prime Minister's entourage and she was onlytalked out of resigning by Mr Brown, who interrupted his programme inWashington to plead with her to stay.

Her resignation would have been the first the Premier has faced over policy andwould have added to speculation about his future.

The confusion over her future came as senior MPs warned Mr Brown faces a'mutiny' over the 10p tax rate when the Commons returns from its Easter recessnext week.

Initially Miss Smith's constituency chairman Max Telfer confirmed last nightthat she intended to quit. 'It is to do with the removal of the 10p tax rateand I support her,' he said.

'I don't think we should be hitting the poorer members of our society and theless able in this way.' But last night sources close to Mr Brown said she wasnot resigning and confirmed that he had spoken to her by telephone.

More than 70 MPs have expressed their concerns either about axing the 10p rateor the general direction of tax policy.

One rebel, Labour MP for Rossendale and Darwen Janet Anderson, said: 'I didn'tcome into the Labour Party - I don't think anybody came into the Labour Party -to penalise people on the lowest incomes.' Lord Desai, who has never beforecriticised his party's leadership, claimed senior figures across the party werenow discussing who should replace Mr Brown.

The peer, an emeritus professor at the London School of Economics, is not anoted Blairite and was a member of late Labour leader John Smith's shadowcabinet.

He said the abolition of the 10p rate was just one 'miscalculation' by thePrime Minister.

'Gordon Brown was put on earth to remind people how good Tony Blair was,' hesaid yesterday. He added that the Prime Minister had recently appearedindecisive and weak and that the Labour party was 'down in the dumps'.

He added: 'There have been talks on all levels about what do about it. …

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