Charlie Whelan says . . .

Don't believe it - "Mowlam knifed in the back by No 10"

I have no idea how much the Daily Mail paid "Saint" Mo Mowlam to tell all, but it didn't have to pay thousands to know that Mo blames everyone but herself for her failed political career.

The main story in the first instalment of her book was about how, following the standing ovation she was given at the 1998 party conference, the then Northern Ireland Secretary became paranoid about a briefing campaign against her by No 10.

There is no doubt that this paranoia was eagerly fed by the Westminster lobby. The oldest trick in the trade is where a hack tells a politician over a liquid lunch what No 10 is saying privately to them. The politician will then tell the hack what he or she really thinks of Blair et al. I lost count of the hacks who, following a long lunch with Mowlam, would tell other journalists about how "bonkers" she was. But No 10 wasn't slagging her off; people were just telling her it was. Spin-doctors are often blamed for briefing against MPs but, in my experience, most of the bile comes from the politicians themselves.

I was once accused in a newspaper of being like a Reservoir Dogs character. Apparently I had briefed against four cabinet ministers in one week, which was excessive even by my standards. The hacks all knew that the story, written by Tony Bevins of the Independent, was bollocks, but none would say so publicly. I've no idea what or who gave Bevins the idea for his story, and I don't care, but I had to laugh at one extract from Mowlam's book. She talked about a private chat she had with Bevins and another MP, where they discussed who would take over from Blair. The conclusion was that "the only person with any credibility to challenge for the leadership was me". How sad.

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