In the second part of the Mail on Sunday's serialisation of Peter Watt's insider account of the Brown-Blair premierships we learn more about the "furious bust-ups" between the two men who have led Britain since 1997. At one point Brown threatened to bring Blair "down with sleaze". Watt also claims that "Gordon Brown used a ‘secret stash’ of Labour Party funds of tens of thousands of pounds to finance his campaign to oust Tony Blair as Prime Minister". We also learn that the Downing Street operation once ordered a round up of "obviously sick children" for a photo opportunity with Tony Blair. The Thick of It's Malcolm Tucker would have been proud of that one.
A desperately unpopular Gordon Brown is apparently now hoping Tony Blair will forgive his sulky plotting and play a role in Labour's bid for a historic fourth term. Brown poured praise on his predecessor's head yesterday:
“In 1997, my predecessor and friend, Tony Blair, said that we had campaigned as new Labour, and would govern as new Labour. Let me say to you today, we have governed as new Labour and now we will campaign as new Labour.”
A "friend of Blair" told The Sunday Times:
“Tony had felt bruised about the way No 10 had handled the Iraq inquiry, setting it up apparently to cause maximum embarrassment for him and those close to him. Brown’s warm words and shift in strategy will help to heal the rift. Tentative discussions have been taking place about Tony helping during the election. He stands ready to help if formally asked.”
Campbell and Mandelson have, of course, already returned to the fray.
Perhaps we'll get another ice cream moment on the campaign trail?