True crime stories: some New Labour memoirs

Issue: 129

John Newsinger

A review of John Prescott with Hunter Davies, Prezza: Pulling No Punches (Headline, 2008), £18.99; Peter Mandelson, The Third Man: Life At The Heart Of New Labour (Harper Press, 2010), £25; Tony Blair, A Journey (Hutchinson, 2010), £25

With David Cameron in power and a full-scale Thatcherite assault under way on the welfare state, working class living standards and the public sector unions, it is easy to forget just how right wing New Labour was. Well, fortunately, two of the architects of New Labour, Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson, together with their loyal ally John Prescott, have rushed into print to remind us.

The three memoirs are very different in tone. Prescott is pathetic: his career has culminated with this proudly working class man joining the ermine vermin and becoming a baron. Prescott is not sure whether to be pleased with or ashamed of himself. Mandelson, another baron, leaves the reader knowing as little about who he is, what be believes in and what he has been up to than he or she did before they opened the book. And then with Blair, one confronts full-blown megalomania. No House of Lords for him—he is one of the Masters of the Universe, an honorary member of the American ruling class.

Nevertheless, these memoirs are useful for providing some insight into the state of the Labour Party and the politics of the New Labour governments, into the way in which they developed their own brand of Thatcherism, thereby preparing the way for the coalition. What is also clear from the Blair and Mandelson memoirs is that they are attempting to construct a Blairite narrative whereby Labour lost the 2010 general election because it was not right wing enough, or as they both put it, was no longer really New Labour. This is, of course, a travesty, but one that can potentially weaken the fight against the coalition. It has to be challenged. But there is a delightful irony in the fact that it was almost certainly the publication of the Blair and Mandelson memoirs and the bad memories they revived that cost their anointed heir, David Miliband, the leadership of the Labour Party.

One at a time with me first

There is an old joke, nearly as old as the Labour Party, about a working class Labour politician who had abandoned all of his principles except his belief in the emancipation of the working class, but only one at a time and with him first. Whoever first coined this gem could have had John Prescott in mind, although to be fair it does not refer to an individual, but to a particular Old Labour type, to the Old Labour traitor. Is this unfair to Prescott? On the one hand, he can declare “an affinity with the underdog, people who had failed or were being put down”, but he can also write with every expectation of sympathy about the shock of briefly rejoining the common herd once he had left office.1 He had to move out of Admiralty House, give up his country retreat at Dorneywood and even use the Tube: “I had to pay cash and was amazed it cost four pounds.” It was “quite a shock to the system all round”.2 And, of course, there’s the money. Prescott has had to join the lecture circuit “to earn some money for my retirement”.3 Before rushing to hold a collection for him, it is worth remembering that he has a pension of over £60,000 a year!

Prescott famously failed the 11-plus and to his credit became a staunch defender of comprehensive education, although this was not to stop him from serving as deputy prime minister in the government that began dismantling the comprehensive system. He went out to work at 15, working as a steward in the Merchant Navy. In the early 1960s he became involved in a rank and file revolt against the cosy relationship that existed between the National Union of Seamen (now merged into the RMT) and the employers. He was one of the leaders of the National Seamen’s Reform Movement that wrote an important page in trade union history.

Prescott came from a respectable Labour background. His father was a Labour Party councillor, a justice of the peace, and a full-time official in the Transport and Salaried Staffs Association. It does seem that by his early 20s he was already thinking of a career as a union official himself. Consequently his attitude towards the National Union of Seamen was that it should be reformed, with men like himself taking over, whereas the rank and file revolt was driven by rage.

In his memoirs Prescott spends more time trying to distance himself from the militants than he does exploring the injustice and oppression they were revolting against. He is clearly rewriting the past from the respectable position he occupies today. He was, he tells us, against wild cat strikes, and: “I have to admit that some of the more militant were trying to bring down the government, hold the country to ransom”.4 Indeed sometimes he gives the impression that the militants were the real problem. On one occasion he actually had to arm himself with “a big piece of timber” to see off a group of them.5 Certainly, Prescott’s potential as a union official was shown when he secured a return to work in Liverpool after putting the resolution to the vote five times before he won it!

In 1963 he went to Ruskin College and from there to Hull University, where he did a degree. Prescott, who likes to present himself as an 11-plus failure, altogether spent five years in full-time higher education on a full grant and without paying fees. While he was a student he continued his involvement with the seamen and with the local Labour Party. He played a part in the great 1966 seamen’s strike and put together Not Wanted On VoyageThe Seamen’s Reply, a devastating response to the Pearson inquiry into the strike. This was his finest moment. He was still thinking in terms of a career as a full-time official, but in November 1968 he was adopted as Labour candidate for Hull East. At this time he occasionally bought Socialist Worker.

Becoming an MP was to change everything. He bought a new house that was “once owned by some rich merchant… It was huge with eight bedrooms and lots of turrets”.6 Even his over-sympathetic biographer, Colin Brown, describes it as “every inch a house for the upper middle classes. Buying it showed he had arrived, but it was not without a conflict of conscience”.7 From this point on, Prescott’s working class persona was increasingly to become a means of advancing himself within the Labour Party rather than reflecting any real commitment to the actual working class. And, of course, he had to cope with how attractive he was to women. Prescott writes of Thatcher flirting with him in the Commons: she “would half smile at me…even wink on one occasion”.8 She was not alone: “Towards the end of 1995, I woke up one day to find I’d become a sex symbol”.9

What of New Labour? Prescott had a vital role to play in convincing the Labour Party membership and the trade unions that the changes Blair, Brown & Co were proposing were merely cosmetic, rather than shifting the party decisively to the right. If getting rid of Clause 4 of the Labour Party’s constitution, which called for the common ownership of the means of production, was acceptable to someone as working class as John Prescott, then there was no way it could possibly signal an embrace of Thatcherism. He was the Judas goat that led the party membership unsuspectingly along the road to New Labour.

What is clear from his memoirs is the extent to which he personally had moved to the right. He proudly claims to have invented public-private partnerships, a policy that he complains the Conservatives stole.10 And once in power in 1997 he was very much in favour of the part privatisation of the Royal Mail and played a vital role in the privatisation of Air Traffic Control, something Labour had condemned in opposition (“I didn’t see it as an ideological sell-out, I saw it as the best financial deal for the taxpayer”).11

As for the Iraq War, “our relationship with the US has always been fundamental”. For Prescott, it was all about being loyal to Tony and he shows not the slightest concern with the issues raised by the conflict. Even with all that we know today about the horrendous loss of Iraqi lives, he can still proudly announce that “I would still do the same again”.12

He was still the old John though. Indeed, his happiest times in office were when he had his old mates from his seafaring days down to Dorneywood for Christmas. “I was most relaxed in the company of people I felt completely at ease with”, he writes.13 There were difficulties, however. During the 2002 firefighters’ strike: “Tony left it totally to me”. Prescott orchestrated their eventual defeat but only after a bitter dispute. Some people can be so unfair though:

I got attacked personally by someone I considered one of my oldest friends, a Britannic steward I’d been at sea with. His son was a fireman out on strike. His dad told me I was a “fucking sell-out”, letting down the workers when I was supposed to be a union man. I’d been all for the workers, he said, when I’d been at sea with him… He hasn’t spoken to me since. 14

This says it all really.

One interesting point worth noticing is the extent to which the changes in the Labour Party that Prescott helped make possible mean that no one like him will ever become an MP again, let alone a minister. The idea that a trade union militant could win adoption for a safe Labour seat is inconceivable today. Indeed, in Gordon Brown’s government there were more millionaires (ten who were worth £35 million between them) than there were former manual workers. And Prescott recognises this change himself: “We won’t have many politicians…who have come from my sort of background.” This, he moans, “will be a loss”, but “we can’t go back”.15 So much for the working class!

What do the authors of the other two memoirs make of Prescott? For Mandelson, Prescott was Blair’s “political foil”. He “loved his job and the status that went with it, and was generally careful to avoid doing anything to put it at risk”.16 And despite their mutual dislike, Mandelson does express his gratitude to Prescott for supporting his proposals to privatise the Royal Mail when he returned to the cabinet in 2008: “I had a particularly gratifying ally”.17 What of Blair? Prescott “brought an authenticity, an appeal to the party’s traditional wing, especially within the trade union movement”. But the highest praise Blair can think of is that if Prescott were a young man today, he would “probably never have gone near a trade union”, but instead would have “most likely have taken a job in industry or the public sector as a manager”.18 Praise indeed!

Lord Mandelson’s watch

When Peter Mandelson joined Gordon Brown’s cabinet at the end of 2008, increasingly desperate Labour MPs welcomed him back as a saviour. At the party conference in September 2009 the man who in many ways embodied everything most contemptible about New Labour, and its embrace of the rich, received a standing ovation. In his memoirs he writes that the party “had at long last learned to love Peter Mandelson”.19 What makes the moment particularly symbolic is that when Mandelson waved to the applauding delegates he had on his wrist a Patek watch that cost over £21,000. Nothing better signifies the extent to which New Labour had devoted itself to the service of the rich than Lord Mandelson’s watch.

Mandelson had, like Prescott, come from a Labour background. After a brief flirtation with the left he decided that “I wanted a future in the Labour Party” and that the best way to achieve this “was through the trade union movement”.20 He went to work at the TUC economic department where he seems to have been transformed into an enemy of trade unionism, at least once the movement had served his purposes. Much later he was to have no sympathy whatever for the miners’ strike and observes that one of Kinnock’s great regrets was that he had not opposed the strike from the outset, but then Kinnock was always “too much of a socialist”.21

As far as Mandelson was concerned the Labour Party “was…on the wrong side” in the 1986 News International lockout. He was the Party’s director of communications at the time and was ordered to have nothing to do with the Murdoch press. But he “made it a point privately to continue briefing and talking to the Murdoch journalists”. 22 The enormity of this is lost today because we have become so used to Labour prime ministers and ministers courting Murdoch, but at the time it would have been unthinkable for a Labour leader to have consorted with a reactionary union-buster like Murdoch.

What Mandelson, together with Blair and Brown, set out to do was to transform the Labour Party, to have it embrace Thatcherism. Mandelson supported Thatcher’s anti trade union legislation and looked forward to the creation of “a US style entrepreneurial culture” in Britain.23 This was what the New Labour government was all about. And life was so good: “I had a lively and, when I chose, a decidedly A-list social life.” New Labour was chic “and people wanted a bit of that chic at their parties and receptions”. Such were the days: “Mick [Jagger] was singing, Kate [Moss] was dancing, and I felt an urge to join in”.24

Of course it all ended in tears, with not one but two resignations. One would, as Oscar Wilde put it, need a heart of stone not to laugh. Mandelson claims to have had serious reservations about the Iraq war and there is no reason to doubt him. On one occasion he writes of an impatient Blair accusing him of spending too much time talking to George Galloway!25 He provides some further material on “the Blair-Brown civil war”.26 He testifies to the “good relationship” that Brown established with Rupert Murdoch, although he never got on with Rebekah Wade because she was always too close to Blair.27

At one point Mandelson insists that “my real job was to serve my constituents”. Representing the people of Hartlepool was “my real job”. 28 One is entitled to be sceptical about this because there were no billionaires resident in Hartlepool. Indeed, a good case can be made that Mandelson’s “real job” barely figures in the pages of his memoirs. He was the man who acted as the go-between for New Labour and the ruling class. The circles Mandelson moved in are absent from his pages, except for one occasion when it is impossible not to mention them. He does feel compelled to explain how he came to be staying on the Russian multi-billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s £80 million luxury yacht in 2008. We would never have known about this if George Osborne, also present, had not tried to make political capital out of it. The episode has, of course, since been immortalised in John le Carre’s novel, Our Kind of Traitor. Mandelson gives the impression that he barely knew Deripaska, but in fact he had been introduced to him by Nat Rothschild as early as October 2004.

Mandelson, as one account observes, “had always been open to the blandishments of the wealthy and he struck up a rapport with Russia’s richest man”. Nat Rothschild, Old Etonian and former member of the Bullingdon Club, a “near billionaire himself”, was a good friend of Mandelson’s. Indeed, Mandelson had been a family friend going back to the 1990s and “frequented” Nat’s Corfu chateau, one of his many homes. According to one friend, Mandelson “likes to use other people’s planes and yachts… Peter likes the comfort of flying on a private jet, staying on a nice yacht”.29 In August 2008 he was in Corfu to celebrate the fortieth birthday of Elizabeth Murdoch (Rupert was there, of course) and because of a shortage of accommodation he stayed on Deripaska’s yacht. This was all perfectly innocent: “I barely saw him, except for an amusing episode in which…I stumbled across a yoga session he and his wife were taking, and I happily joined in”.30

One can rest assured, however, that while Mandelson was rubbing shoulders with the super-rich he was thinking of the people of Hartlepool. To be fair, it was not just Mandelson but New Labour that embraced the new Russian super-rich, welcoming them to Britain. In 2006 a fifth of all the houses in London sold for over £8 million were sold to Russians and the higher the price went the higher the proportion bought by Russians. Even Ken Livingstone “went out of his way to applaud the Russian influx”.31 There are even stories that Russian influence was crucial in getting “their London” the Olympic Games.

Mandelson obliquely acknowledges how little he is going to reveal in the title of his memoirs, The Third Man. There are a whole number of Graham Greene titles he could have chosen (The Last Word, The End of the Affair, A BurntOut Case, The Confidential Agent, even The Comedians), but instead he chose a reference to the mysterious, unscrupulous Harry Lime. As it is, no one better exemplifies New Labour than Peter Mandelson, a man eager to be of service to his friends, the super-rich.

Confessions of a war criminal

Which brings us to Blair himself. His is very much a memoir intended to establish his place in history as a great man. In fact what he has produced is an exercise in amoral megalomania, characterised by often execrable prose, sometimes revealing more than he intended.

First, the megalomania. A few quotations will be enough to demonstrate this particular pathology:

bq. I had a strategy for guiding us from opposition into government; I adhered to it, and I knew that if I did so, I wouldn’t fail… I was the eternal warrior against complacency.32

I had led the Labour Party to victory. I had reshaped it. I had given it a chance to be a true party of government. All this took a degree of political skill and courage.33

I was trying to wear what was effectively a kind of psychological armour which the arrows simply bounced off, and to achieve a kind of weightlessness that allowed me, somehow, to float above the daemonic rabble tearing at my limbs… There was courage in it and I look back now at it with pride.34

It is unusual to praise one’s own courage, but Blair can’t afford to leave anything to chance.

Contrary to what some reviewers have said, he does actually reveal why he joined the Labour Party rather than what seems to be his more natural home in the Conservative Party. Given that he was hostile to the trade unions, was always out of sympathy with the politics of Labourism both Old Left and Old Right, this has always been a bit of a puzzle. While Blair wholeheartedly endorsed much of Thatcherism, in particular the “new laissez-faire approach to industry, battles with the unions”, nevertheless the Tories “were also conservative with a small ‘c’.” What he couldn’t stomach was “their stuffiness, their pomp, their worship of tradition”. They were still “stamped with the hallmark of a bygone age”. He objected to their “baggage, airs and graces”.35

Blair’s objection to the Conservative Party was not political, but cultural. Instead he joined Labour. He portrays himself as a sort of Thatcherite entrist, pretending to be Labour (he even joined CND), but really intent on changing Labour into something else. From the very beginning he recognised that the Labour Party was “in the wrong place” and that it would have to be transformed. As he admits, there were occasions when “I couldn’t stop the mask slipping”.36

The result was that the Labour Party ended up with a leader who was every bit as hostile to trade unionism as any Tory. He makes it absolutely clear that Thatcher’s attack on the unions was the right thing to do: she was “correct about the excesses of trade union power”. Harold Wilson and Ted Heath had tried “an evolutionary attack on trade union privilege” and had both failed.37 Of course, the idea that Heath’s Industrial Relations Act, his imprisoning of trade unionists and his fighting of two great class battles with the miners was “evolutionary” is complete rubbish.38

Blair goes on to argue that after Wilson’s and Heath’s failure it was clear that “only a revolutionary [approach]…would succeed. And she had the character, leadership and intelligence to make it happen”.39 John Prescott, it is worth remembering, considers this man to be the Labour Party’s greatest leader!40 Thatcher’s anti trade union legislation was left in place by New Labour as part of their undertaking to big business that they would not interfere with the balance of class forces her victories had established. This really gets to the heart of New Labour politics: their commitment to a society where big business is dominant culturally, politically and economically and the unions have been successfully curbed.

Blair goes on to inevitably embrace the most successful union buster in modern British history, Rupert Murdoch. He came to have “a grudging respect and even liking” for Murdoch who “had balls”.41 While he had no time for trade unionists, Blair is quite happy to acknowledge that when “I was with a group of entrepreneurs, I felt at home”.42

Blair famously regrets only two policies in his memoirs: the banning of fox hunting and the Freedom of Information Act. On Iraq, he is absolutely unrepentant. Despite the continuing revelations about the horrors that the invasion has inflicted on that country, Blair not only justifies the attack, but regrets that it was not continued as originally planned with Syria and Iran next. He goes out of his way to praise vice-president Dick Cheney. Cheney, he writes admiringly, “would have worked through the whole lot, Iraq, Syria, Iran, dealing with all their surrogates in the course of it—Hezbollah, Hamas, etc” Cheney recognised that “the world had to be made anew” and despite disagreements, Blair believes “there was much to be said for this insight”.43

As for the difficulties in Iraq, these were not the responsibility of Britain and the US, but were the fault of Iran. Indeed, Iran, he claims, “was both funding and training al-Qaida operatives”.44 This is a neoconservative fantasy that almost defies belief. It is intended to justify a future attack on Iran. And this from the supposed Middle East Peace Envoy. More generally, Blair insists that “our alliance with the US gave Britain a huge position”, and that, as far as he personally was concerned, he thought people “admired the fact I counted, was a big player, was a world and not just a national leader”.45

Blair bought into the war on terror without reservation. For him it defined the modern world. He believes there is a great battle under way for the soul of Islam, a battle that might last generations and that would have to be fought on many fronts. Winning is not just a matter of “a military strategy”, but requires “a whole new geopolitical framework”.
He goes on:

It requires a myriad interventions deep into the affairs of other nations. It requires above all a willingness to see the battle as existential and see it through, to take the time, to spend the treasure, to shed the blood, believing that not to do so is only to postpone the day of reckoning…46

Well, we already know that he has no problem with military intervention and the shedding of blood, but what we are confronted with here is a Manichaean view of the world that owes more to the Chronicles of Narnia (Tony Through The Wardrobe, so to speak) than to any realistic geopolitical appreciation. The war on terror was always an ideological construct, a way that the US neoconservatives thought they could justify the increasing use of armed force to sustain the position of US imperialism. Blair actually believes it. For him, the war is still being fought out, but fewer and fewer people are taking it seriously as the defining conflict of the age. He is increasingly confined to an embittered neocon ghetto. American imperialism under Obama is finding new ideological clothes to wear.

One of New Labour’s great successes was that, having involved the country, despite massive opposition, in one catastrophic American war, they nevertheless were able to go on and successfully involve us in another one. The way the renewed Afghan war was served up is one of the great triumphs of modern “information management”, a triumph all the greater because it was accomplished without anyone even being aware that it was going on. In March 2006 John Reid, the secretary for defence, committed British troops to a three-year operation in Afghanistan with the remark that he would be happy if at the end of it they “had not fired a shot”.47 At the same time as he was misleading the British people, Reid was telling Blair something very different:

as John made very clear, it would be a tough and dangerous mission. The Taliban would fight hard to keep hold of the territory that we had never been able to satisfactorily wrest from them. There would be suicide attacks on our forces.48

If this prognosis had been made public at the time, especially in the aftermath of Iraq, there would have been a huge upsurge in opposition to the commitment. Instead the war was kept hidden for as long as possible, and then once the intensity of the fighting made continued secrecy impossible, the government very successfully played the “support our boys” card. The result is a war that cannot be won, that has cost the lives of hundreds of British troops, and is killing an increasing number of Afghan civilians. We must not forget New Labour’s second American war.

Since his resignation as prime minister, Blair has devoted much of his time to enriching himself. The lecture circuit has proven immensely profitable for him with a speech at a banquet held by a Chinese property company in November 2007 earning him £237,000 and a speech to a conference of entrepreneurs in Barcelona the following year earning him £240,000. According to one account, by 2009 “he was being described as the world’s best-paid speaker, able to pull in more than half a million pounds a month, and earning £400,000 for two half-hour speeches in the Phillipines in March of that year”. His topic was “The leader as a Nation Builder in a Time of Globalisation”. And he has taken a number of lucrative jobs in the financial sector: “In January 2008, he joined one of Wall Street’s best-known banks, JP Morgan…reportedly earning around £2 million a year for a part-time role.” That same month he took another part-time job with the Swiss insurance firm Zurich, “for at least £500,000 a year”. Within two years of leaving office “Blair was said to have earned as much as £15 million”.49 One has to pinch oneself to remember that this man was once leader of the Labour Party!

New Labour Lives!

Both Blair and Mandelson are determined to construct a mythic explanation for the 2010 defeat. According to Mandelson, Brown lost because “voters had come to feel that we had moved away from the key New Labour instincts”.50 Blair goes much further, arguing that Brown had, in fact, abandoned New Labour. He seriously argues that in 2010 he could have defeated Cameron: “Labour won when it was New Labour. It lost because it stopped being New Labour”.51 This is a nonsense. Indeed, a good case can be made that the extent to which Brown warned against Tory cuts actually prevented a complete Labour rout.

What lost Labour the election was the extent to which it was still New Labour. It was New Labour that had seen a collapse in party membership. It was New Labour that had seen inequality increase to levels not seen since before the Second World War. It was New Labour that had turned Britain into a paradise for the rich and super-rich. It was New Labour that left the British economy so vulnerable to financial crisis. And, moreover, Blair goes on to endorse the Cameron-Clegg response to that crisis.52

He is not alone in this. Privately, a majority of Labour MPs support the Con Dem regime of cuts. The fact that 111 MPs voted for David Miliband in the first round of the Labour leadership elections and only seven for Diane Abbott shows this. By the fourth ballot David Miliband had the support of 140 MPs. These people might have reservations about the timing of the cuts or the manner in which they are being implemented, they might object to some of the detail, but for most Labour MPs the real objection is that they are not the ones in office carrying them out. New Labour Britain, for example, was already a world leader in “outsourcing”, a polite word for the privatisation of public services, and, indeed, boasted of this in business circles.

Labour MPs, with some commendable exceptions, are not spoiling for a fight with the coalition. They have no intention of taking to the streets or standing on picket lines. This reflects the balance of class forces, the balance of class forces that made New Labour possible in the first place. What we are moving into now, however, is a different era. A weak coalition government of inexperienced but remarkably overconfident public school class warriors (the first rule of class warfare for any serious ruling class militant is do not alienate the police, and these people have broken it already) is launching an unprecedented attack on the poor, students, public sector workers and, it has to be insisted, on the living standards of millions of white collar workers.

Defeating their assault will change the balance of class forces decisively. Once the cuts begin to bite, Labour MPs will find it increasingly difficult to remain apart from the struggle. Only the hardcore Blairites will continue to stand aside, and without any doubt some of these will actually defect to the Tories. This will provide us with an opportunity to destroy New Labour once and for all.


1: Prescott, 2008, pp27-28.

2: Prescott, 2008, p3.

3: Prescott, 2008, p354.

4: Prescott, 2008, p56.

5: Prescott, 2008, p60.

6: Prescott, 2008, p117.

7: Brown, 1997, p73.

8: Prescott, 2008, pp137-138.

9: Prescott, 2008, p205.

10: Prescott, 2008, pp171-172.

11: Prescott, 2008, p221.

12: Prescott, 2008, p287.

13: Prescott, 2008, p242.

14: Prescott, 2008, pp258-259.

15: Prescott, 2008, p363.

16: Mandelson, 2010, pp177, 197.

17: Mandelson, 2010, p479.

18: Blair, 2010, p326.

19: Mandelson, 2010, p486.

20: Mandelson, 2010, p60.

21: Mandelson, 2010, p104.

22: Mandelson, 2010, p190.

23: Mandelson, 2010, p265.

24: Mandelson, 2010, pp224-225.

25: Mandelson, 2010, p353,

26: Mandelson, 2010, p14.

27: Mandelson, 2010, p488.

28: Mandelson, 2010, p334.

29: Hollingsworth and Lansley, 2010, pp330, 332.

30: Mandelson, 2010, p27.

31: Hollingsworth and Lansley, 2010, p347.

32: Blair, 2010, pp1-2.

33: Blair, 2010, p27.

34: Blair, 2010, p573.

35: Blair, 2010, pp98, 132.

36: Blair, 2010, p43.

37: Blair, 2010, p. 42.

38: Heath was one of those 1970s politicians who found themselves rapidly outflanked on the right, not just by Thatcher but also by Blair. In 2002 Heath was complaining to Tony Benn that Blair “is a Thatcherite”. In the same conversation Heath complained that American presidents were not assassinated “frequently enough as far as the present one is concerned”. By February 2003, in the run up to the Iraq war, Heath was demanding to know: “How can we get rid of Blair?” See Benn, 2008, pp51, 97.

39: Blair, 2010, p42.

40: Prescott, 2008, p326.

41: Blair, 2010, p98.

42: Blair, 2010, p116.

43: Blair, 2010, p409.

44: Blair, 2010, p469.

45: Blair, 2010, p410.

46: Blair, 2010, p349.

47: See Newsinger, 2009, p30.

48: Blair, 2010, p610.

49: Theakston, 2010, pp220-221, 222.

50: Mandelson, 2010, p561.

51: Blair, 2010, p679.

52: Blair, 2010, pp682-683.


Benn, Tony, 2008, More Time For Politics: Diaries 20012007 (Arrow Books).

Brown, Colin, 1997, Fighting Talk: The Biography of John Prescott (Simon and Schuster).

Hollingsworth, Mark, and Stewart Lansley, 2010, Londongrad (Fourth Estate).

Newsinger, John, 2009, America Right or Wrong: New Labour and Uncle Sam’s Wars (Bookmarks).

Theakston, Kevin, 2010, After No 10: Former Prime Ministers In British Politics (Palgrave Macmillan).