Charlie Whelan says . . .

Don't believe it - "McConnell never read the McLeish book"

The former Scottish first minister Henry McLeish has spent the time since he was forced to resign writing a book now being serialised in the Daily Record. McLeish accuses his successor, Jack "the Knife" McConnell, of being a devious political schemer. This is hardly a revelation, but it has created a big stir on the eve of the Scottish Labour Party conference in Inverness.

The First Minister was inevitably asked by the "unreconstructed wankers" of the Scottish lobby what he thought of the McLeish tome. "I haven't read it," he told them. Liar! Why do politicians try to avoid answering a question about a press story by pretending they haven't read it? Geoff "Buff" Hoon was the last one to come out with this unlikely line when he denied that he had read the headlines planted by No 10 telling us that Saddam Hussein could blow us all up with just 45 minutes' notice.

All top politicians get a press summary every day, and I can assure you that it's the first thing they read in the morning.

McLeish reveals that he told Tony Blair he would back him as party leader just days after John Smith died, or, more precisely, when he realised Blair was going to win. This rather contradicts the line put about by McConnell that McLeish was just a Gordon Brown stooge.

The best bits are about the backbiting in Scottish politics. "The Glasgow-Lanarkshire power grouping seems to think it has some kind of hereditary right to control Scottish Labour," he tells us.

McLeish claims that he was not responsible for the fiasco of the £400m Holyrood parliament building, which still hasn't been finished. That was all down to Donald Dewar, who is unable, naturally, to defend himself from the grave.