Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Nightmare in Downing Street

Iain Dale on Doughty St has emailed political bloggers and journalists with a press release about a statement made in an interview on the internet TV station by Lance Price, former Downing St spin doctor, about the origin of the famous slur on Gordon Brown being ''psychologically flawed''.

You can watch the interview here. Or full version here

Coming as this does a few days after More4's ''The Trial of Tony Blair'', (repeated on Thursday - tomorrow - on Channel 4 and well worth watching) - this is rather interesting stuff, though not surprising as the relationship between the Chancellor and the PM is famously portrayed as dysfunctional. The TV drama was powered by this, with a broodingly dour, insecure Brown being briefed against by a manicly delusional still-messianic Blair in order to cripple the new PM's election majority by arranging a pre-election leak about tax-rises to the Tories, and Brown in turn vengefully allowing the former PM to be prosecuted for war crimes by the Hague. It was a bleakly black comedy, with some nice touches, ( like Brian Haw taking up residence outside Connaught Square) but ultimately a caricature that tried to punch so many targets it rather diluted its angry power.

Caricature and satire has resonance when it distorts a still-recognisable truth. And the toxic shambles of the 'orderly transition', the uneasy truces, ferret-sack-infighting, and the near-implosion of the Labour party a few months ago caused by Blair's refusal to name a date, his determined clinging to power, even when it seems to work against the interest of the party, has led me to wonder on more than one occasion, just who is psychologically flawed ( see: How Mad is Tony Blair?)

Price stops short of confirming that the damning indictment issued from the lips of the PM, but ho hum...

Lance Price: Well no, I don’t know, I don’t know for a fact it was Alastair Campbell. I’ll tell you what somebody…somebody very close to the Chancellor who was having this discussion, many people had this discussion obviously, said to me; “By the way everyone says it was Alastair, it wasn’t Alastair”. He said it was Tony Blair. It was Tony Blair who said it. It was completely unacceptable for the news to be out there that this was what the Prime Minister said about the Chancellor so therefore Alastair took the rap and Alastair’s been the lightning conductor ever since. Now I have no idea whether that’s true but people very close to the Chancellor believe its true and maybe even the Chancellor himself believes it was true and if you look in Andrew Rawnsley’s book where the quote first appeared, he said, I think he described it 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.

Iain Dale: Another thing is that Andrew Rawnsley has said that once Tony Blair ceases to be Prime Minister, he will reveal all. That would add fuel to the fire.

Lance Price: Maybe, Iain, you heard it here first.

Mind you, it could just as well have been Cherie.
I wish they were better than this: it is demeaning to have the Government engaging in petty bitching cliquey office politics so publicly, instead of proper politics. I support Brown, I do not want a Conservative Government, and the man has waited a long time, thought and prepared, watched and listened and I hope, will be a new start . He deserves his chance.

Nobody is ''psychologially perfect'', though some delusional people think they are. Psychological health is being self-aware, knowing your weaknesses and strengths and vulnerabilities and not being too proud to change or ask advice.

Anyway, I don't think Brown is psychologically flawed, in the way that it was reported as being meant, ( though I bet he is pissed off and resentful after all this time), but the fact that someone who I think is deeply psychologically flawed is apparently calling Brown ''psychologically flawed'' reminds me yet again of the wise words of Tim Field from BullyOnline, about people projecting their own weaknesses onto those they unfairly snipe at, and how, in doing so, they reveal more than they realise about their own demons and fears.

UPDATE: Iain reveals that the matter was raised in the House at PM's Question Time, Gordon was asked about it by the press pack in India as well as his views on Celebrity BB and tells us that now the Queen is keenly following the story. The Queen should start a blog, I bet she could break some hot stories. Or just have a whinge about how awful Tony Blair is, the cause that is currently uniting left and right as one in the blogosphere...


Blogger Davide Simonetti said...

I was very dissapointed with "The Trial of Tony Blair". To start with there was no trial, just a long build-up to it. The rest of the programme had some mildly amusing gags but little political bite. I reviewed it over at my blog.

I think "psychologically flawed" is a label that could be applied equally to both Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. Pots and Kettles again.

January 17, 2007 4:36 pm  
Anonymous barnacle_bill said...

Whilst I agree with the majority of your entry Rachel. I do not wish to see Brown succeed Blair.
He should not be rewarded with the premiership for the way he has slavishly followed Blair"s disastrous foreign policy.
The way he has hidden behind other people's coat tails when bad news has been coming his way is not a very good example of leadership.
I would have had more respect for the leader-in-making if he had stayed in this country to face the release of the inflation figures.
Oh and I think the remark about Gordon might have come from the kitchens in Downing Street!

January 17, 2007 4:41 pm  
Blogger ejh said...

Is there anybody who is not psychologically flawed? I'm quite prepared to believe that Tony Blair thinks he himself is not - which would be about as sizeable a psychological flaw as anybody nominally sane could have.

January 17, 2007 6:23 pm  
Blogger Sean said...

Matthew Norman writes: "It has been in Gordon's power for years to dispose of this deluded apology for a British Prime Minister. Had he shown the same degree of principle over Iraq as his old enemy Robin Cook, and resigned before the invasion in March 2003, Mr Blair could not have survived the failure to find weapons of mass destruction. Since then, Gordon has had him on the ropes, legs wobbling and brains scrambled, several times. Each time he has stood back, seemingly unable to believe how close to the title he was, and gifted Mr Blair time to recover his wits."

January 18, 2007 6:27 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Hmm, interesting comments. Thank you. I missed the Matthew Norman piece, unusual for me as I normally follow everything he writes. Maybe Tony sees Brown's 'psychological flaw' as not having the killer instinct, or supporting party policy even when he thought it was a bit dodgy. Well, that's not a bad 'psychological flaw' to have; better than than a Messiah/Holy Warrior complex.

January 18, 2007 9:45 am  
Anonymous Lizzy Windsor said...

I note that you mentioned on Iain Dale's blog that perhaps I should blog. Oh but I do dear.

January 18, 2007 12:22 pm  

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