In his memoirs “The Third Man”, Lord Mandelson the former Business Secretary claims that Tony Blair called Gordon Brown “mad, bad and dangerous”. So that would explain why he was foisted on us then.
The long running bitter feud between the two over the Labour leadership and position of Prime Minister has been a very open secret. Lord Mandelson’s book serialised in the Times puts some real meat onto the bones.
The book does say that Tony Blair had promised to stand aside in 2003 and not fight the next election, but he later went back on the deal. It was then that the aptly named ‘Operation Teddy Bear’ was devised. This was a plan devised by John Birt, Lord Mandelson and Jonathan Powell to split the Treasury into two by hiving off an ‘Office of Budget and Delivery’ and leaving Gordon with a less powerful a ‘Ministry of Finance’. That would have severely reduced Brown’s influence and of course caused the teddies to fly from the cot.
The memoirs also describe how Lord Mandelson had the fury of Gordon directed at him after he was cleared of wrongdoing over the Hinduja passport affair. He claims that Tony told him that “Gordon wants you buried”.
Lord Mandelson also claims that Tony likened Gordon to the mafia. He alleges that the then PM said "He's like something out of the mafiosi. He's aggressive, brutal … there is no one to match Gordon for someone who articulates high principles while practising the lowest skulduggery".
Then Lord Mandelson claims that Tony considered moving Gordon to the Foreign Office. But didn’t do so for fear that Gordon would resign and cause havoc from the back benches.
This whole sorry tale tells us as much about the courage and principles of those on one side as it does about the supposed mental instability of the person on the other side.
And then, at the end of the day, both of them had their fingers on the UK nuclear trigger for years. Food for thought.