Blair

Jim Pickard

Interesting to see that John Prescott now says he was “nervous” about the intelligence that provided the basis for the Iraq invasion.

On the basis of the Alastair Campbell diaries, “JP” – far from expressing nerves about the war - played an enforcer role in making sure that the cabinet knuckled down behind Tony Blair. Read more

Some interesting names on the latest list of witnesses to the Iraq inquiry.

The Lord Prescott will be making an appearance to (presumably) explain his role in cabinet. It should make for good viewing.

Hans Blix, the weapons inspector, will have a chance to rebut some of the criticisms thrown at him by the likes of Jack Straw.

Baroness Manningham-Buller, the former head of MI5, may shed some light on the official advice given over whether the invasion of Iraq would increase or decrease the threat of terrorism in Britain.

Another name that stood out is Carne Ross, a ex-FCO official who served at the UN. He’ll be the most junior former official to speak out against the mishandling of the build-up to war.

The most intriguing detail is surely the absence of Tony Blair’s name from the list. This, I’m told, does not preclude a re-appearance on the witness stand. The panel clearly want to speak to all their witnesses at least once, before they start recalling old stars.

Here is the list in full: Read more

Jim Pickard

It was William Hague who predicted in 1999 that the public response to Labour would go through four phases: His timing was amiss but the sentiment was correct. It’s a similar angle to the saying that all political careers end in failure.

For when I spoke to you in this hall two years ago I said that New Labour would bring first fascination, then admiration, then disillusionment and finally contempt. At that stage the admiration was running high; now the disillusionment is beginning; and mark my words, they are not so far away from contempt.” Read more

Jim Pickard

Fascinating piece on the blog of Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the RSA (and part of our election panel last month). In it, he reveals that Stan Greenberg, pollster to Clinton, Blair and others, carried out research just before May 6 which showed that Labour’s vote would have risen under a new leader; in which case we could now be under a different government. (hat-tip John Rentoul). Read more

Jim Pickard

I’m sure at one level Gordon Brown must be furious about today’s story in the Sunday Times, which doesn’t exactly look great for Labour. (The Tories, by contrast, weren’t taken in by the fake lobbying company).

Then again, look at who has been caught out by the sting: Stephen Byers, who has machinated for years to remove Brown from power; and – to a lesser extent – Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt, who tried to start a new coup earlier this year. Read more