JP = Jim Pickard KS = Kiran Stacey GP = George Parker
11.53 KS – There’s still a little more mileage yet to come from the book, so we’ll continue live-blogging until lunchtime. But we’ll be moving onto a new post now, so please stay with us.
11.40 JP – Blair reveals details of the “arctic meeting” with Brown over pensions reform, which ended up with his chancellor allegedly resorting to political threats to try to get his way.
Brown opposed Adair Turner’s proposals for pension reforms; Blair supported them. So Brown made a proposal: if Blair abandoned his support for the pension reforms, Brown would agree not to call for an Labour party inquiry into the “cash for honours” affair which threatened to overwhelm the Blair premiership.
“The temperature, already well below freezing point, went arctic,” Blair recalls, adding that some things said at this “ugly” meeting are better not put into print.
In the event, Blair decided to push ahead with the reforms and two hours later Jack Dromey, Labour’s treasurer, put out a statement calling for an inquiry. “I don’t know for a fact that Gordon put Jack up to it,” says Blair. But it’s clear where his suspicions lie.
11.30 JP – Sometimes working in Westminster it is extremely hard to work out where a rumour has come from, whether it is genuine and so on. The same seems to be true even for those at the top.
Blair recalls the “bizarre” time that Andrew Smith resigned as work and pensions secretary in 2004 to escape being sacked. Except Blair had no plan to fire him. “So wound up was he that he obviously didn’t believe it and said, no, he really preferred to go rather than suffer the indignity of being sacked.” Read more