Charlie Whelan says . . .

Don't believe it - "Blair declares war - on Gordon Brown"

I cannot ever recall such a strange atmosphere in Westminster. Everyone is talking about just one thing - the relationship between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor.

As usual, "the lobby" has plenty to say and, as usual, most of it is rubbish. These days I tend to spend as much time as I can fishing in Scotland, so my visit to a BBC Millbank piss-up last week was a rare appearance in Westminster. But such is the thirst for Blair-Brown gossip that my very arrival was interpreted by some Blair flunky as part of an anti-Blair plot and was duly reported as such in the Guardian.

Another paper reported that the GMB's decision to cut back the cash it gives to the Labour Party was all down to Gordon Brown. The evidence for this was that a lobby correspondent saw the GMB boss, Kevin Curran, talking to Douglas Henderson MP, a Brown supporter, on the Commons terrace bar. The hack probably didn't even realise that Doug was a GMB member.

The award for best Brown-Blair bollocks, however, goes to Peter Mandelson's favourite lobby hack, Andrew Grice of the Independent. The morning before Brown's Comprehensive Spending Review statement, his story was: "New rift opens between Brown and Blair". Someone "close to the PM" blamed Brown for the Andrew Marr story about Blair threatening to quit, it claimed ridiculously.

To keep the story going, the paper's front-page the next day ignored the spending review details and splashed with: "In private, the feud deepens." If it's in private, how does Grice know?

Now I'm not saying that all's well in the Blair-Brown relationship. It isn't. But we deserve better reporting of it.

Next Article