Charlie Whelan says . . .

Don't believe it - "Labour wants IDS out"

Last week I was reading a downmarket, right-wing rag given away free on the plane. I couldn't believe it when I read that the Labour Party wants IDS out because of the threat he poses to it winning the next election.

My old mate Tom Baldwin of the Times had written a story about IDS using his official car to go and watch Tottenham Hotspur play. I know Tom is seen as a bit of a Blairite lackey by some, but exposing the fact that IDS used his car to watch Spurs is hardly going to kill the Tory leader off. No, new Labour - and Tony Blair in particular - is very keen for IDS to survive. Just look at what the Prime Minister has been able to get away with in the past week alone.

We were told by the No 10 press office that Blair's heart attack - sorry, condition - was a one-off. Now we learn that he told Bill Clinton some years ago about his heart complaint. All this made only a few lines in the papers, but I have no doubt that Blair's heart would be in the news far more if it weren't for the problems facing IDS. The Downing Street spin machine is alive and kicking, and the last thing it wants is for anyone to think that Blair isn't physically up to the job. So it just lies.

The Prime Minister's latest porky came as the Northern Ireland peace process failed yet again. He claimed that if the Unionists knew what he did about the weapons handed in by the IRA, then they would support a new deal with the nationalists. The fact is that the PM didn't know any more than the rest of us, as General John de Chastelain confirmed.

The longer IDS hangs around, the longer Blair will be able to get away with anything. Any hack who thinks Labour wants rid of the worst Tory leader in history is the worst journalist in history.

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