Damian McBride: 10 things his book tells us about New Labour
The former spin doctor's memoirs reveal many things, from Gordon Brown's limited knowledge of adult entertainment to Tony Blair's failure to remember who in his government did which job
Gordon Brown walks with McBride at the 2007 Labour Party conference, in Bournemouth. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian
The memoirs of Gordon Brown's former spin doctor Damian McBride have brought back painful memories for many in the Labour party. But what have the extracts published so far actually told us about the New Labour years?
1) Gordon Brown did not know that porn channels existed
When aides informed him that Jacqui Smith's expenses revealed the cost of a pornographic film being viewed on her TV, Brown reacted with complete bewilderment.
2) Brown used to rehearse his speeches while McBride shouted abuse at him
This was done when he first became prime minister, to prepare him for hostile crowds. Favourite heckles were: "You stole my pension, Brown!", "You're a bigger bastard that Blair!" and "Where's the gold, Brown?", which particularly infuriated him. Sometimes he could not help shouting back.
3) There are subtle ways to leak things without leaking them
McBride regularly briefed journalists about celebrities who were about to be recognised in forthcoming honours lists. Rather than mention the people by name, however, he would hum songs they were famous for singing or the theme tune from their TV show.
4) In 2005, Brown gave away market-sensitive information about the budget, but no one noticed
According to McBride, a broadsheet newspaper got hold of a photograph showing Brown's notes in his trademark black marker on an official document. The notes revealed what the new borrowing figures would be. When he heard, Brown intended to resign until McBride solved the problem by telling the journalist that the figures were not correct. (In fact they were near-perfect approximations.)
5) Brown signed defender Marvin Andrews for Raith Rovers in a pub car park
This is only implied, but it is implied strongly. Brown apparently had a habit of getting too involved with his local football club when he had spare time in Scotland. A journalist rang McBride saying that Brown had been seen discussing contract terms with Andrews in a Kirkcaldy pub car park in the middle of the night. Brown's reaction was: "Have they got photos?"
6) The Queen drives her own Range Rover at Balmoral and rebuilds broken fence posts
Brown is a staunch royalist, according to McBride, and a great admirer of the Queen. These details of her hands-on approach to estate management came out of Brown and his wife's first visit to Balmoral in 2007.
7) Someone at the BBC has a recording of Gordon Brown swearing his head off
According to McBride, his boss was wildly intolerant of BBC interviewers, whom he felt failed to focus on the most important issues. The moment he finished speaking, not caring whether the tape was still running, he would explode into a burst of incoherent swearing. McBride speculates that those recordings will have been kept to play at John Humphrys' retirement party.
8) Brown is famous among his colleagues for telling a joke about a Japanese admiral
McBride does not go into detail about what the joke involves, saying only that Brown might tell it again to Ed Miliband and Ed Balls in Downing Street, should the pair win the next election. Andy McSmith at the Independent says the joke concerns Jimmy Wray, a former Labour MP who was so poor as a child he used to go to school in second-hand clothes. When he met someone who said the same, Wray added: "Aye, but you didn't have to go as a Japanese admiral."
9) Tony Blair was "the boss", Brown was "Gordon", Ed Miliband is "the leader"
How you refer to the party leader is a political matter in itself.
McBride says that Blair's close staff took up the term "the boss" from
his protection officers, while civil servants called him "the PM" and
other advisers or party workers called him "the leader".
Under Brown's tenure all this was dropped in favour of "Gordon", but McBride claims that "the leader" has been re-established for Ed Miliband.
10) Blair sacked a junior minister by mistake
According to McBride, in his 2002 reshuffle Tony Blair gave Angela Eagle's job at the home office to someone else because he had forgotten that she was already doing it. News of the appointment was how she found out she had been sacked.
A Telegraph Reporterr tried to talk to Brown earlier today about MccBrides book , but Brown kept on walking!
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