Mandy: Blair reneged on deal with ‘Mafiosi’ Brown
Mandelson reveals that Blair plotted to divide up Chancellor Brown’s Treasury, but was too scared to follow through
Lord Mandelson has revealed the full brutality of the war at the top of the last Labour government, saying that Tony Blair described Gordon Brown as “like something out of the Mafiosi”.
Mandelson also claims that Blair did renege on a deal with Brown to hand over the Labour leadership, but that the pact was made in 2003 – suggesting the supposed 1994 deal made in the Granita restaurant was a fantasy. He adds that Blair “variously believed, and told me, that Gordon was mad, bad, dangerous and beyond hope of redemption”.
The new revelations come as the Times serialises Mandelson’s memoirs, The Third Man, which, as Neil Clark pointed out yesterday on The First Post, seem designed mainly to put the boot into his arch-enemy Gordon Brown. They suggest that by Tony Blair’s second term as prime minister, his relationship with his Chancellor was so bad that he faced being unable to govern in the way he wanted.
The situation came to a head in November 2003, when Blair, realising that it was the only way to get Brown to cooperate with his policy agenda, agreed to a deal under which he would not fight the next general election. At the meeting, hosted by deputy prime minister John Prescott at his apartment in Admiralty Arch, Brown agreed in return that he would help Blair achieve his domestic policy agenda.
As history relates, Blair later reneged on that deal when he told reporters that he would fight the 2005 election, but that it would be his last.
Blair did have another, more combative plan to neutralise Brown, however. ‘Operation Teddy Bear’ was dreamed up by Mandelson, adviser and former BBC chief John Birt and chief of staff Jonathan Powell.
The plan was to divide up the Treasury, creating a new ‘Office of Budget and Delivery’ and leaving Brown with a Ministry of Finance, which while it would be in charge of taxation, would no longer have control over the purse strings of government departments – removing much of Brown’s power.
The idea was eventually discarded because Blair feared that Brown would resign and pose even more of a threat. However, Blair also apparently never felt bound by the ‘Admiralty Arch pact’, since he never believed Brown would keep his side of the bargain.
Later, Blair said of Brown’s behaviour: “He’s like something out of the Mafiosi. He’s aggressive, brutal... There is no one to match Gordon for someone who articulates high principles while practising the lowest skulduggery.”
In the spring of 2004, Blair admitted to Mandelson he would not be keeping to the deal, but that they must both play along since “it was the only way of managing Gordon”. ·
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