Saturday, December 16, 2006

Downing Street: We're Shit and We Know We Are

This is Simon Walters' Exclusive story in tomorrow's Mail on Sunday. It's a leaked Downing Street Memo which shows just how bad the inflighting within New Labour is. It ends with the words "This is really s*** or bust time".

"LABOUR has no chance of winning the next Election because voters think the Government is a shambles – and there is little Gordon Brown can do to stop David Cameron becoming Prime Minister. That is the devastating verdict of a secret Downing Street memo drawn up for Tony Blair by his senior advisers and obtained by the Mail on Sunday. The confidential document states:

*Labour’s standing is so low that the party’s only hope of recovering may be to abandon Mr Brown and ‘move to a new generation’ by picking a much younger new leader – though it warns of the perils of being ‘disloyal’ to the ‘greatly respected’ Chancellor.
*The public believes the party is riven by ‘internal conflicts’ and shows a ‘lack of grip and competence on key issues’ such as Iraq, the NHS and immigration.
*People who voted Labour at the last Election ‘are moving across’ to the Conservatives and Labour is floundering ‘on every major issue’.
*Mr Blair faces a ‘s*** or bust’ decision on how to stop the rot.

The leak came as a vicious new war of words flared between the rival Blair and Brown camps over where blame for the cash-for-peerages scandal lies. Mr Brown angrily accused Mr Blair’s chief fundraiser Lord Levy of trying to ‘smear’ him over claims the Chancellor did not tell the truth about nominating two of his cronies for peerages. And Mr Blair’s allies responded by claiming the Prime Minister believed Mr Brown had ‘fanned the flames’ of the row over party funding to bring down his Downing Street neighbour. ‘It is outrageous for Brown to play the innocent,’ said one. ‘No one demanded more money than him – and he knew where it was coming from.’

The Mail on Sunday has also learned that Mr Blair has held secret talks with his chief of staff Jonathan Powell, at which they agreed that the Prime Minister’s final six months in office must create a ‘leadership legacy’ which sets him apart from Mr Brown. The Prime Minister has privately mocked Mr Brown’s prospects as Prime Minister, saying: ‘The trouble with many of Gordon’s ideas is that they butter no parsnips.’

The memo, written in the past few weeks, is the most damaging Government leak in years. It was written by one of the Prime Minister’s closest advisers and seen by a handful of senior figures, including Mr Blair. It makes a nonsense of public claims by Labour that Mr Blair is planning a smooth transition to Mr Brown next June or July as part of a carefully co-ordinated strategy to secure a fourth successive Election victory.

It also flatly contradicts Mr Blair’s public statements dismissing Mr Cameron as a lightweight with no chance of winning power. In private, Mr Blair’s inner circle is in a blind panic over the march of Mr Cameron’s Conservatives, and they don’t think Mr Brown is any match for him. The memo freely acknowledges Tory gains in the polls since Mr Cameron replaced Michael Howard, with big leads on tax, crime and immigration.

‘Labour no longer has a measurable lead on any major issue,’ it states. And it confirms Opposition claims that the Government has failed to live up to its promises and that it is haemorrhaging support as a result of the Iraq War. ‘The Government is seen as a shambles. It is not just Labour internal conflicts but a lack of grip and competence on key issues. Iraq is a potent and raw issue, so is the NHS, immigration and crime. We have lost control of the big issues and are not delivering,’ the memo states.

Nor is the trend likely to change. ‘This view is deeply held and entering the bones of the electorate. The public are clearly preparing to shift to the Conservatives if they prove themselves credible and likable. It would be totally wrong to assume this is some kind of mid-term setback. It is not. It is a long-term cyclical shift towards an increasingly acceptable Opposition. People who voted Labour in 2005 are on their way across.’

Mr Blair’s advisers believe Mr Brown’s position as Labour heir apparent is making things worse. ‘Compounding this is an erosion in Gordon Brown’s position against David Cameron,’ the memo says. Extraordinarily, the document reveals that No10 actively contemplated dumping Mr Brown in favour of a younger successor. ‘We can rally round...or we can go for total renewal, moving to a new generation, effectively forming a new government while still in power.’ It does not name the potential alternative successors, but it is no secret that Mr Blair once hoped Environment Secretary David Miliband would mount a challenge against Mr Brown. Similarly, despite being slightly older than Mr Brown, Education Secretary Alan Johnson, a relative Cabinet newcomer, was also seen as a way of providing a ‘break with the past’.

But the memo warns this tactic could backfire: ‘Trying to completely renew in office may look as if we are trying to cheat time. And worse – that we are disavowing our record in government. Gordon Brown is part of our record. If we disown him, we run the risk of disowning our record. The public will recoil from evidence of disloyalty towards Gordon. ‘Whatever people think of him as a [potential] Prime Minister, they still greatly respect him as a Chancellor.’

But it shows Mr Blair has serious doubts about allowing Mr Brown to take over without a leadership contest. The public are ‘not stupid’, says the memo. ‘They will not forgive us if we foist an unpopular leader on them without a proper democratic process. They just won’t accept it.’

It finishes on a note of desperation. ‘We have to focus. We can’t sort out everything. The NHS is probably the best place to start. If we can make sense of one or two areas of policy the rest might fall into place. This is really s*** or bust time.’"

Well if that doesn't lead this evening's news bulletins, I'm a Dutchman. "In ander nieuws vanavond.."

I'll be doing the paper review at 11.45pm on News 24. Glad there'll be something to talk about!


Anonymous said...

what a brilliant week

Anonymous said...

What Dizzy said!

Anonymous said...

dizzy's right. There was this:

and this:

Anonymous said...

Just hope I can get an MoS tomorrow. I've noticed whenever there is a very contraversial headline such as this one, for some reason the MoS is in short supply in the newsagents around here - although they never seem to run out of The Time.

Anonymous said...

Don't be taken in. This has been deliberately leaked to deflect the press from concentrating their attention on Bad News Thursday and to undermine Brown.

Curly said...

What a nice piece to dig out of the news this week, I'll gladly help fan the flames with this one!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but this isn't news at all.

If anyone believes that this is 'the most damaging leak..etc' they are very naive. This is not one of those real leaks where someone with a grudge has tried to damage the Labour party.

This has been authorised at highest levels; the 'shit or bust' reference has been added to give it an aura of authenticity .

Peter Mandelson has been looking for a long time for payback against El Gordo. Tony Blair has been fuming at Gordon being nowhere near the crime scene as he and 'Lord Cashpoint' take the heat from the rozzers.

And now is the time to let the long conceived plan to ditch Gordon for a Cameron-killer candidate. The recent attempt to drag Gordon into the cash for honours scandal was Phase 1.

This is just Phase 2. Phase 3 will be to get the Parliamentary Labour Party to accept that the Gordon's Pole Position on the starting grid for the next Labour leadership is 'damaging to the party's chances'.

Phase 4 will be an all-out scorched earth attack by the Murdoch press on Gordon's chances and the emergence of the 'Anyone But Gordon' fallguy.

Anonymous said...

What another leak? Some one ought to call a plumber PDQ. The one that called in September didn't fix the problem.

These are deliberate "leaks", not leaks. I don't buy into the faction stuff written in the article. Brown and Blair are as one on Nu Labour. Blair knows that a Conservative govt is a bigger threat to his precious bollocky legacy, whatever that is. These leaks serve some part of the Nu Labour agenda.

Anonymous said...

The scandal of a Brown-led Labour Party being parachuted into power to replace Blair, and using his majority for another three years of economic and financial incompetence coupled with the use of the government's powers to entrench Brown's miserable understanding of the country's interests is horrifying.

The faction-riven Labour Party is marked out by the corruption and self interest of its leaders and chief supporters.

When Blair stands down, or is forced out, as prime minister there must be a general election.

BJ said...

Apparently Philip Gould, and apparently written a long time ago, when Labour were more in the shit in the polls than they are now.

Doesn't mean it's not true, though.

Anonymous said...

Guys, I can't believe you read the MoS - it is absolute first rate garbage.

Completely biased, total lack of veracity in the stories, nonsensical 'Political Correctness gone mad' type stories, and in keeping with a sombre mood this week a 'let's kick working girls when they're down' piece.

As the old advert went@:-

'A shite paper, not a news paper' or something like that..

Anonymous said...

I see the anonymong rapid rebuttal are out in force.

Anonymous said...

God you know things are bad when Labour has to leak and counter leak the continued infighting between Blair and Brown.
We had Brown's statement today and this tomorrow, just how big a mess are Labour in with cash for honours?

Anonymous said...

Absolutely fantastic scoop Iain. Well done.

Oh this is just brilliant!

Anonymous said...

Iain, I doubt you'll be doing much talking on News 24 tonight. You'll be far too busy laughing.

Long live Labour infighting!

Anonymous said...

It's a non news item. We know they are shit. Now, if they told us something we did not know, that would be news!

uk-events said...

Cheers for the heads up Iain..

Beats the usual pre christmas boredom thats for sure!

Nice to see the pressure on Blair continues and that Brown isn't being given an easy time either.

Long may it continue (certainly, for Blair may his actions remain with him for the rest of his days).

Anonymous said...

"We're shit and we know we are" they say?

We knew they were a long time ago.. they really must have not been paying attention!

The Leadership Blogger said...

In answer to the jasmin's irritated rhetorical "Name me a woman who has left her husband!" - Carol Vorderman.

Dreadful tie Iain - can I have it?

Anonymous said...

I like that. Real class. Someone called Mr Dizzy criticising anonymous blog commenters.

You couldn't invent these people.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Surely the first rule of leaked info is to ask "whose interests does it serve to leak this"?

It is a shame this memo or whatever it is has been chopped into pieces so that we cannot see it in context.

As for it being the "most damaging memo.. etc" - that is fairground barker material.

There is nothing new in the text as revealed in the on-line report. There are no big revelations about the chaos surrounding Number 10 or the antipathy to Gordon.

I want to know if I have missed something, but frankly, I am much more interested in that lucky b'stard Lembit and the apparent ease with which he picks up and puts down gorgeously slutty totty. I think we should be told.

Anonymous said...

Gordon has been at the heart of Government. Gordon has been New Labour's right-ventricle, responsible for pulling the money in, whilst Tony has been it's left-ventricle responsible for spewing it out.

Gordon "Right-Ventricle" Brown

Anonymous said...

"... and there is little Gordon Brown can do to stop David Cameron becoming Prime Minister."


Newmania said...

W F Deedes has pointed out for a long time that the supposed rift between Brown and Blair is not chiefly on Policy. His view is that the Soap Opera has hidden the fact that this governement is far to the left of its appearance with Blairs support.

He has often been right so I think this may need to be read at less than face value . Great post though

Anonymous said...

The plot thickens, Sky news paper review leads with the Telegraph Blair/Levy story but no mention of the MoS story.
Their nightly "what the papers say" seems to have disappeared.

Anonymous said...

This doesn't sound like an accidental leak...

Anonymous said...

Tony was no wear a round wen this was leaked.


My Mum

Anonymous said...

"The public will recoil from evidence of disloyalty towards Gordon."
But if Tony sacks the b*****, there's no one to be loyal to...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I like that. Real class. Someone called Mr Dizzy criticising anonymous blog commenters. You couldn't invent these people.

Whilst you may not know who I am that doesn't make me anonymous. My real name was posted by Iain in a post like week, hell it's even on Downing Street's website and linked from my blog. It's not exactly a secret.

If I was anonymous you might have a point, but I'm not. Nice try at looking all clever and shit though. Soon you'll be able to take part in a proper flame war.

Anonymous said...

Why with relentless bad press for NuLab do Con/Cameron ratings languish? That Blair is a pathological liar and Brown a psychologically flawed tax and spend merchant is beyond dispute. Yet Murdoch's not for turning. If the NuLab shambles does not convert to Con rise in polls, Cameron will have to answer some questions. In meantime sit back and relax as Plod calls on J Pole who knows where the emails and hard discs are. No peerage for you.

Anonymous said...

Well, 2006 is the year that I seriously started feeling like a stranger in my own country (somebody being disciplined for wearing the cross when no doubt Sikhs can wear their turbans, and women in veils claiming to be "100% British").

I also started to feel that binge drinking, anti-social behaviour and other personal problems are not helped by a bureacratic, impersonal state passing down legislation.

So I won't just be voting Conservative I actually joined as well.

But I still think you're going to lose the next election though, sadly.

Praguetory said...

Just as a quick reminder to anons beavering away. We don't read your comments, we don't go to your links, we don't buy your arguments. As the Titanic was sinking this type of anon was saluting the captain of the ship.

Anonymous said...

Slightly off topic, but I've just had a horrible thought. What if Blair is actually innocent on this peerage thing; if it was all down to over enthusiastic acolytes?

Oh God! It doesn't bear thinking about.

Anonymous said...

Er, why you decided to run a poll of Sunday journalists alongside two postings of the Mail on Sunday?? Are you in love with their editor or something?

Chris Paul said...

Define "last few weeks" Mr Dale. Doesn't this come from in or around that wobbly week back in September when the blogsome Mr Tom Watson chucked in his job to have a dig at TB while a bunch of sad careerist tossers who had no government jobs chucked in nothing at all? Except spite. Isn't this the Bliarite response? From the time?? Please tell us the date on the "leaked" memo. My blog is now lumbering into life here and when I get my head round the links business I'll be including this in an early attempt for a 2007 top ten listing.

Iain Dale said...

anonymous at 10.56 - the poll has been there since Friday.

kinglear said...

Brown had nothing to do with Cohen and the other one getting knighthoods . Yeah right.
These were working Labour peerages. Yeah right.
I knew nothing . Yeah right.
But what I do know, and continue to say is that the leaked or released document tells the truth.
And the Tories will win the next election by more than 40 seats and the Lib Dems will be back below a total of 40

Anonymous said...

You guys seem to be forgetting that these people didn't actually get peerages. Hate to let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Anonymous said...

Somehow can't quite accept it at face value- nothing NuLab does ever should be.

But as a multi-faceted gem of spin - that makes more sense.

So what's going on?
Let's see:
Screw Gordon
Tell Desperate Dave "No, no! Ignore your pathetic personal poll ratings, they don't mean a thing. We're really scared - honest!"
Justify the continuance of Blairism unto the third and fourth generation by vaulting over leadership contenders that might be considered Blair's contemporaries/alternatives and presenting a 'choice' of contenders consisting solely of NuLab Blairite loyalists - the only group to have been promoted and to have prospered under his regime - Milliband et al.

Yup. Triple whammy here - Blair remains the Glorious Leader, even in retirement; Cameroon is outflanked by an even fresher face with oh so, 'green' credentials; Gordon gets screwed.

Now that makes more sense.

Anonymous said...

Call me stupid, but I still think Peter Hain harbours ambitions to get to the top.

His 'Welsh Politician of the Year' award may be a joke, but it shows that there are plenty of suckers out there who can't see through him - all he needs is some success in the Northern Ireland peace process to catalyse him into action as 'the People's PM' and his main leadership credential - i.e. his name isn't Gordon Brown..

Seems a long shot - but then Maggie Thatcher was never considered as having much chance of leadership until she divided other candidates votes, and rode up the centre to win

Anonymous said...

Iain, For the sake of people still at school who might read this blog, PLEASE get your grammar right.

If you are quoting a large chunk of text, as you have in this post, quotation marks AND using a differnt paragraph style is arguagbly over emphasis but not wrong.

However, if you must use quotation marks for a quote over several paragraphs, EACH paragraph of the quote should begin with opening quotemarks, although only the end of the final paragraph should have closing quotemarks.

Thank you. (I know I'm a pedant but in an infinitessimal way I think these things make the world a better place.)

Anonymous said...

My dream PMQ's:

Darfur Dave: "Can the Prime Minister please explain the contents of the memorandum publicised by the MoS?"

Swiss Tony: "Mr Speaker, I can no longer conceal this: the contents of the article are true. This administration is a shambles. Complete and utter wank.

"We came into office with hopes way beyond our capabilities and have gone downhill ever since. No amount of mendacity or deceit can conceal this.

"I have requested an audience with Her Majesty this afternoon where I shall deliver this government's resignation. I shall then travel to Scotland Yard where I intend to make a full confession regarding the sale of honours, the corruption of the high office I hold and sundry other instances of maladministration.

"I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to this house and the British people for the last ten years of misrule, broken promises and collective incompetence".

Exits stage left persued by bear.

As the charity adverts say: Every child has a dream.