Monday, January 11, 2010

The Price of Loyalty

Michael White has written a good piece on Peter Watt and his new book on the Guardian website this morning. After a bit of bluster, he settles down to explain why he

I barely knew Peter Watt (still don't), but was told that he and his wife foster children with disabilities, which probably makes them better people than most of us.

Labour is still in deep financial trouble as the election looms and one of Watt's complaints – as the man charged with keeping his party solvent – is that Brown was uninterested in fundraising.

He was willing to waste £1m the party didn't have in planning a 2007 election he eventually decided not to stage. Watt says he was one of those who warned the boss not to gear up for a election and then bottle it. Hey ho.

Why am I indulgent towards such disloyalty to his party when only last week I deplored it in Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt? Because Hewitt and Hoon owed their party loyalty rather than hack-handed, counterproductive plotting. Because Hewitt was a fanatical champion of loyalty to Neil Kinnock when she was on his staff. Whatever he thinks now, Kinnock keeps his mouth shut.

But as Watt reports, he was deemed to be the expendable official who could be made a scapegoat. Brown referred to "crimes" committed and Watt was required to resign – left to the waiting wolves. No wonder he's cross.

No point in MPs moaning. He was badly let down by colleagues who should have protected him. When Tony Blair's staff were under threat over the almost-as-spurious loans-for-honours investigation he stood by his team, though he was less loyal to fundraiser Lord Michael Levy.

As for the anecdotes Watt has put into his book, they won't tell you much you probably don't know about the Brown style, though the hissy fit he allegedly threw when some VIP American guests (plus the Watts) sat down to supper at No 10 without him (he was on the phone) startled even me. The placement doesn't matter that much, Gordon, it really doesn't.

On shakier ground Watt reports that Douglas Alexander – due to perform at tonight's PLP as elections coordinator – told him that he was keen on a quickie 2007 election because the more voters knew Gordon the more they'd dislike him. It's tempting to believe it, but it generally wise to mistrust what X says Y says and means.

Last week Brown reportedly promised colleagues like Alexander to be more collegiate in future. But the Sunday papers report that the defence secretary, Bob Ainsworth, is thinking of resigning.

A solid citizen is Ainsworth, underestimated by the hooligans on account of not going to Oxford. The BBC's Nick Robinson reports that news of his possible resignation is news to Ainsworth.

Ask Peter Watt, Bob.

PS The book is now 78 in the Amazon Hot 100. You can push it further by pre-ordering ot HERE.


Silent Hunter said...

What's really interesting is just how much wasted effort Gordon was happy to countenance before running away from the election.

I do hope that the Labour supporters who stuff envelopes and knock on doors are aware of his "appreciation" (LOL) of their efforts, as he lumbers towards the cliff edge.

I'm sure that having him as their 'leader' must just fill them with confidence on the doorsteps of Britain.
It would be easier selling sand to the Saudi's - perhaps they could include it in all Labours Arms Deals with them.

Demetrius said...

In the meantime while all this is going on and consuming the full attention of the London Mediocracy, there are one or two other things going on in the world that might at some time force themselves on our attention.

Conand said...

"Why am I indulgent towards such disloyalty to his party when only last week I deplored it in Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt?"

Hmm, because you're an inconsistent opportunist hack?

Maybe Hoon/Hewitt genuinely believed they were being more loyal to their party by speaking out. Just a thought Michael.

Anonymous said...

On that Logic, any scribblings from McBride would be interesting to whom?

Or should it be: if he defends Gordon he's guilty, but if he doesn't he was the fall guy?

As has also been pointed out, Blewitt was also disloyal to Bliar

Mick Turatian said...

"... but [it's] generally wise to mistrust what X says Y says and means"

Er, so we shouldn't believe Sir Michael down all the years then, right?

Wrinkled Weasel said...

You wouldn't have a book to plug by any chance?

psychotrader said...

the seating placement probably DID matter as he wanted one corrupt ally to whisper things in the ear of another.

Steve H said...

***it's generally wise to mistrust what X says Y says and means.***

If he believes that, will Michael White then explain why any of us should pay any attention to anything he says? As a political commnetator, his whole career has been telling us what Y means.

Dave H said...

“Labour is still in deep financial trouble...”

Don't worry, they'll find a way.