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Monday, October 13, 2008

The Blair legacy

Like Banquo's ghost the embarrassments and scandals of the Blair government keep coming back to haunt Gordon Brown.

This time it is the infamous Ecclestone affair in which, within five months of coming to power, the government announced proposals to exempt formula one from the ban on tobacco advertising. Three weeks earlier Tony Blair had met formula one boss Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley, president of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), in Downing Street. Ecclestone had donated £1m to Labour in January of that year.

Today's Guardian reports that Blair's account of events, that it was a collective decision made in the normal way, may not tell the whole story:

Government papers challenge Blair's account because they show that the day after his Ecclestone meeting, Jonathan Powell, Blair's chief of staff, wrote to Tessa Jowell, then health minister, to say: "The prime minister would like your ministers to look for ways of finding a permanent derogation for sport, in particular F1."

Jowell wrote to Blair on October 24 setting out a series of options including an exemption. No 10 replied on October 29: "His [the prime minister's] view remains that we should seek to negotiate a permanent exemption for Formula 1, backed up by the voluntary agreement with the FIA."

The government informed the EU on November 5 that it wanted to exempt motor racing from the ban. Labour contacted the standards watchdog on November 7 to ask for his advice on the donation from Ecclestone, a move that was to embarrass Gordon Brown because he told the Today programme three days later that he did not know whether the multi-millionaire had donated to Labour.

Two senior Tory MPs are to raise the matter with the Speaker today, claiming that the papers show that they were misled when they questioned the Prime Minister in 1997.
Now you found out about this I followed FI for years and we all knew about this. it will not be the last with brown and Blair or as we call the , the terrible twins
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