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Friday, June 10, 2011

Car crash politics

The revelations in today's Daily Telegraph of the 'key role played by shadow chancellor Ed Balls in a “brutal” plot to destroy Tony Blair' is really no surprise.

We all knew that it was happening. What perhaps, we did not know is the extent of the scheming involved and the depth of the bitterness between the two sides. By comparison, coalition politics looks like a picnic in the park.

The paper says that Mr Balls, as well as the current Labour leader Ed Miliband, began scheming within weeks of the 2005 general election in a plot codenamed Project Volvo, which was launched as London was under attack from Islamic terrorists:

This newspaper has seen letters between Mr Blair and Gordon Brown which reveal the extraordinary rift at the heart of Labour.

The cache of documents show for the first time Mr Brown’s feelings towards Mr Blair in his own words and handwriting, material which has previously only been the subject of speculation and second-hand reports from anonymous sources.

Mr Brown makes it clear, in a series of memos, that he regarded his rival as a “muddled” lightweight whose obsession with spin destroyed trust in politics. He used the perception of “lies” over the Iraq War to try to force Mr Blair’s early departure.

Mr Brown ordered Mr Balls to take a “brutal” approach to cleanse the Labour Party of Mr Blair’s influence.

The Telegraph says that the personal papers of Ed Balls set out in detail how those around Mr Brown plotted from July 2005 to remove Mr Blair from No 10:

They give an insight into Mr Balls’s central role in the plot, with Mr Brown passing his former aide the most secret memos that Mr Blair sent to him in confidence.

The files disclose details of secret meetings, opinion polls on Mr Blair’s policies and how Mr Brown’s allies tried to rebrand his image.

Three of the key conspirators now occupy the most senior positions in the Labour Party: Mr Balls, Mr Miliband and Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary.

More than 30 people, including figures in politics, business and the arts, are named as being involved. Most were rewarded with peerages or government positions by Mr Brown.

Private memos between Mr Brown and Mr Balls heavily criticise Mr Blair, and the pair discussed how to undermine the Prime Minister.

Throughout this period Ed Balls was denying that he was involved in undermining colleagues. If I was Ed Miliband I would be very nervous indeed about the intentions of the Shadow Chancellor.

By far the most bizarre aspect of the plot was the decision to christen the plot 'Project Volvo' on the grounds that this was the car voters most associated Gordon Brown with. Just how robust is a Volvo in a car crash?
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