Rawnsley & his rounds with the Clunking Fist (egged on by Brown’s ‘colleagues’)

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    28th February, 2010

    Update: Just received this intriguing information from Pajamas Media. Polanski & Harris (latter quoted below on ‘autistic’ Brown’s putsch) were backed by the German government for ‘The Ghost’ film. Interesting, Ms Merkel. Will write on this more fully when time permits.

    Depressed Tony Blair told Gordon Brown he would quit after Iraq war

    (Rawnsley & pasted here below)

    Nov 2006, Parliament: What did the normally serious Brown find SO amusing as all around him, especially Blair, seemed lost in thought and the sobriety of the moment at the final Queen's speech for the elected prime minister, Tony Blair?

    ‘The “eyes” have it … the ayes have it’

    I recall using this phrase regarding this photograph here of Blair and Brown at the former’s final Queen’s speech on 15th November 2006, a few months after the coup. Brown looks like the cat who finally got the cream. I found his expression on that particular occasion deeply, deeply irritating, rather juvenile and uncalled for. True, I almost invariably find the man deeply irritating, particularly since the day he and his cronies removed our prime minister without our permission.

    It was odd then that Brown found the normally sombre occasion rather amusing. Especially when he is not normally easily amused. And it was out of character too to watch the expression on Tony Blair’s face.  Now we have it confirmed WHY he was evidently so low.  In his speech in parliament afterwards Blair’s spirits rose to the occasion and he left us with a remarkable performance, and a very memorable phrase:

    Blair: “At the next election it will be a flyweight versus a heavyweight and however much he may dance around the ring in the end he’ll come face to face with a big clunking fist, and be out on his feet, carried out of the ring, the fifth Tory leader to be carried out, and a Labour government still standing.” (See more here)

    RAWNSLEY

    Rawnsley: Depressed Tony Blair told Gordon Brown he would quit after Iraq war

    2004, Blair at his lowest ebb. Pic: Paul Grover/Rex Features

    Tony Blair descended into such a deep depression after the Iraq war that he told Gordon Brown and John Prescott he would quit No 10 the following summer – only to renege on the pledge within months, a new book by the Observer‘s Andrew Rawnsley reveals.

    The former prime minister’s physical and mental decline was so profound that he confided to friends that he “spaced out” several times during Prime Minister’s Questions and often woke up in the middle of the night with sweat trickling down the back of his neck.

    Rawnsley’s explosive account is in The End of the Party, which is published on Monday , extracts from which appear in tomorrow’s Observer. It lays bare, for the first time, how Blair was haunted and tormented by the deepening chaos and bloodshed in Iraq at the same time as being worn down by the constant psychological warfare being waged by Brown, his next-door neighbour in Downing Street, who was increasingly desperate to take his job.

    While Blair’s gift for presentation helped him hide his depression from the public and most of his staff, his private turmoil was so severe that he decided there was nothing for it but to hand over to Brown midway through his second term.

    Rawnsley is the first journalist to detail how Blair, in those darkest days, made clear at a dinner with both Brown and Prescott in November 2003, and later in a telephone call to Prescott in spring 2004, that he would step down.

    Sally Morgan, Blair’s director of government relations, told Rawnsley: “Iraq was a quicksand swallowing him up. The atrocities. Those terrible photos [of Abu Ghraib]. And he started losing people who had supported him throughout. He was stuck in this long dark tunnel and could see no way out of it.”

    The book relates how Blair’s special envoy in Iraq, the former UN ambassador, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, came to No 10 at the end of his service in Baghdad to brief the prime minister. Greenstock knew that his “very gloomy assessment” had made him highly unpopular in the building. Some at No 10 tried to keep him away, fearing the impact on Blair’s collapsing morale. In Blair’s den Greenstock warned him that the situation looked “unbelievably bad” and would get more desperate in the months to come. “What can we do?” pleaded Blair. “We have told them [the Americans] again and again what we think is necessary. If it doesn’t happen, what can we do?” Greenstock was left with the image of the prime minister “tearing his hair” over Iraq and “throwing his hands in the air”.

    Rawnsley then charts how Blair – urged by his wife, Cherie, and closest political friends to pull back from the brink and deny Brown his chance – gradually recovered his self-belief and decided to fight on. The volte-face caused Brown’s frustration to turn to rage.

    On one occasion Brown went round to No 10 to get an answer. One of Blair’s inner circle who witnessed this says: “Gordon was just losing it. He was behaving like a belligerent teenager. Just standing in the office shouting: ‘When are you going to fucking go?’ ”

    Blair’s dark period throughout late 2003 and early 2004 was compounded by his heart complaint and anxiety that his young children were suffering at school because of the unpopular war their father had championed in Iraq. His friend and cabinet colleague Tessa Jowell says: “He was very low, he was very lonely and he was very tired.”

    In November 2003, Prescott, who was acting as “referee” between the prime minister and chancellor, hosted a dinner to discuss their differences and address the succession question. Next morning a visibly excited Brown told his key aides, Ed Miliband, Ed Balls, Spencer Livermore and Sue Nye, that Blair had assured him he was going in the summer. The four were sceptical, having heard about similar promises from Blair before. But by the spring Blair was to telephone Prescott and tell him he had settled on June as his departure date.

    Behind the scenes, Blair’s allies feared he was wobbling and were hatching a strategy to boost his morale. Jowell went to his study and told him: “You’re going to get through this.” Blair replied without conviction: “I’m fine, darling. Don’t worry about me. I’m fine.” Blair’s friends noticed that women were better at bolstering him than men.

    Peter Mandelson told him: “Come on. Buck up. Buck up. Think of what you’ve got to achieve. You’re the best politician in this country by a mile.”

    After the June local elections of 2004, which were bad for Labour but not disastrous, Blair’s zest for the job returned and he decided to stay to fight the 2005 election, which Labour won, though with a substantially reduced majority.

    In autumn 2004, Blair declared he would fight the election but not lead Labour into a fourth one. But the statement led to relentless speculation about his departure date. Rawnsley reveals how, in the summer of 2006, Prescott was so frustrated with Blair’s refusal to name a handover date that he threatened to resign as deputy prime minister unless he did so.

    Also referred to here http://worldnews.hometips4u.com/depressed-tony-blair-told-gordon-brown-he-would-quit-after-iraq-war


    Rawnsley: ‘Lessons from my 15 rounds in the ring with the forces of hell’

    It’s strange to find yourself publicly denounced by Number 10 and privately encouraged by ministers

    Halfway through my 15-round boxing match with Downing Street, I received a phone message from a friendly minister: “Andrew, just checking you’re safe, you’re all right. Great read. If you’re feeling a bit bruised, just think that’s what my life is like every day. God bless.”

    This has been one of the paradoxes of finding myself nose to nose with Gordon Brown and his attack machine. The revelations about his behaviour in The End of the Party have been denounced by the prime minister as lies and attacked by his anonymous mouthpieces as “malicious falsehoods” along with a fruity variety of other desperate denials. The more they snarled, the more messages and calls I received from senior Labour figures wanting to express their solidarity and telling me to stand firm. Some offered very useful tips about how to cope in a cage fight with No 10.

    […]

    On one occasion Brown went round to No 10 to get an answer. One of Blair’s inner circle who witnessed this says: “Gordon was just losing it. He was behaving like a belligerent teenager. Just standing in the office shouting: ‘When are you going to fucking go?’?”

    Blair’s dark period throughout late 2003 and early 2004 was compounded by his heart complaint and anxiety that his young children were suffering at school because of the unpopular war their father had championed in Iraq. His friend and cabinet colleague Tessa Jowell says: “He was very low, he was very lonely and he was very tired.”

    […]

    Behind the scenes, Blair’s allies feared he was wobbling and were hatching a strategy to boost his morale. Jowell went to his study and told him: “You’re going to get through this.” Blair replied without conviction: “I’m fine, darling. Don’t worry about me. I’m fine.” Blair’s friends noticed that women were better at bolstering him than men.

    Peter Mandelson told him: “Come on. Buck up. Buck up. Think of what you’ve got to achieve. You’re the best politician in this country by a mile.”

    After the June local elections of 2004, which were bad for Labour but not disastrous, Blair’s zest for the job returned and he decided to stay to fight the 2005 election, which Labour won, though with a substantially reduced majority.

    In autumn 2004, Blair declared he would fight the election but not lead Labour into a fourth one. But the statement led to relentless speculation about his departure date. Rawnsley reveals how, in the summer of 2006, Prescott was so frustrated with Blair’s refusal to name a handover date that he threatened to resign as deputy prime minister unless he did so.

    Source here, attributed to Toby Helm


    Brown ‘exploded’ when Blair refused to quit

    Published Date: 28 February 2010
    By Tom Peterkin, Scotsman

    GORDON Brown exploded with rage when Tony Blair backtracked on a pledge to stand down as prime minister after the Iraq war, it was claimed in a new book last night.

    Brown was said to have sworn at Blair like a “belligerent teenager” after he learned he would not be leaving No 10 in the summer of 2004.

    Yesterday on the unofficial campaign trail in Swansea, Brown focused on attacking the Conservatives’ new “Vote for Change” slogan, claiming a Tory government would “short-change” families.

    In defiant mood, the Prime Minister joked he had been accused of everything short of killing Archie Mitchell in EastEnders. “I promise, I didn’t even lay a finger on him,” Brown said, before moving on to criticise David Cameron’s Conservatives.

    Click on thumbnail to view image

    Interesting. I wrote something a similar sort of denial here on 10th September 2006

    Brown: “Whit, ME? Ah didnae dae it!

    Honest, constable.

    Never touched ‘im!

    Goat any proof?

    That’s no’ ma knife, by the way, by the way!”


    I’d forgotten, after all this time, but I also quoted the below, from Robert Harris.

    Not, you might well ask, THE Robert Harris, surely, of The Ghost infamy? I fear it is. The very same. Looks like more than Brown saw (and see) Tony Blair as a target for knife-throwing.

    Robert Harris in the Times says:

    ‘Autistic’ Brown loses the plot

    A true statesman would have praised his departing master to the rooftops, but not Gordon, says Robert Harris.

    Excerpt: (My bolding)

    ‘Now that relationship, the axis around which British politics has turned for more than a decade, is finished, for ever. At the beginning of the week it looked as though the biggest loser of their bitter public separation was Blair. But by the end of the week there can be no doubt that the real casualty is Brown. Blair’s time at the top was almost over, whatever happened: he has nothing to lose now except his dignity, which in any case is a commodity always in short supply in politics. Brown, on the other hand, desperately needs to inherit the goodwill of a unified party if he is to have any hope of winning the next election.

    This is why his behaviour has been little short of insane. We shall no doubt have to await the memoirs of the two men before we can properly reconstruct the cataclysmic meeting which took place on Wednesday. But, however one analyses it, it is clearly Brown who was ranting and demented. At one point he apparently threatened Blair with a second, third and even a fourth “wave” of resignations, for all the world like Osama Bin Laden ordering up cells of suicide bombers from his cave in Tora Bora. It is a measure of Blair’s enfeeblement that he did not simply sack him on the spot, tell him to go to hell and challenge him for the leadership if he dared.

    Presumably Brown was gambling that none of this would ever emerge. Here again one sees his autism when it comes to personal relations. News of what had happened was spreading across London within hours, as it was bound to do. It is therefore not his brutality which makes one question Brown’s fitness to become prime minister — brutality can be a necessary quality in a leader — it is his criminal stupidity. And if this is the way he behaves towards the serving prime minister, can one wonder that so many of his junior colleagues, such as Charles Clarke, feel so scarred by their dealings with him, or view the prospect of a Brown premiership with trepidation?

    What Brown needed to do this autumn was to treat Blair with the utmost loyalty and consideration, both in public and private.

    […]

    And this — this! — is the moment when Brown has chosen to plunge the knife into Blair. A brilliant man, yes, but a flawed one and a strange one and perhaps worst of all — an unlucky one.’


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