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15 September 2021updated 17 Jan 2024 6:21am

The Tories airbrush Gordon Brown from history

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

By Kevin Maguire

Intrigued by the prominent man piquing her interest on the Bumble dating online site, a vivacious Tory public relations woman asked for proof it really was him. She requested a photograph with that day’s newspaper. Back pinged a snap with a copy of the Daily Telegraph. The woman queried why he used the Torygraph rather than the Daily Mail. That, he replied, would be too close to home. Either the divorcing minister for nightclubs is in the market for dance partners, or a persuasive scammer is stealing the identity of Michael Gove, which would be a Whitehall security breach. The PR executive, a Conservative supporter, is convinced her interlocutor was a cabinet minister supposed to be saving Christmas from lorry driver shortages, sniggered my breathless snout. Posing with the Torygraph kept Gove’s soon-to-be ex-wife Sarah Vine, a Mail columnist, out of the exchange.

He’s the longest-serving chancellor of the exchequer in modern times, after putting in a decade at the Treasury, so Gordon Brown could be forgiven if he suspected the Conservatives were airbrushing him from history. The glaring omission of Irn Broon from a government list of past chancellors would leave even a Trotsky-erasing Stalin blushing. Sajid Javid is included despite surviving a mere seven months. Alistair Darling, George Osborne and Philip Hammond, who all followed Brown, are named. Before him, Ken Clarke, Norman Lamont, John Major, Nigel Lawson, Geoffrey Howe and Denis Healey are on a list stretching all the way back to a Julius Caesar between 1604 and 1614 and the first chancellor, Richard Sackville, from 1559 to 1566. I’m sure there’ll be an illogical explanation before Brown is added.

[see also: Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle: who’s in and who’s out?]

Keir Starmer spoke to a largely empty room from a podium in Congress House while addressing the mostly online TUC conference, a step up from an address given in his attic last year. He was at least heard. One union watcher estimated a quarter of the delegates called to speak via video links by the meeting’s chair, Unite’s Gail Cartmail, did so with the mute button on. The prodding fingers and angry red faces were accompanied by screaming in silence.

Downing Street was sweating over when, where and how long an anxious Boris Johnson might meet Joe Biden when the Prime Minister flies to the US next week for a four-day trip taking in the UN General Assembly. The US president isn’t happy that the British Trump’s cabinet ministers called him “doolally” during the Afghanistan crisis. No 10 officials fear the Toryban’s insults will create an un-special relationship, undoing spade work by our woman in Washington Karen Pierce.

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