Thursday, February 22, 2001
Idle Speculation

We all know about old Labour and New Labour. Indeed we are all now aware of the difference between Blairites and Bownites. But what about friends of Cherie and friends of Tony? There are certain of Tony's friends who are also good friends of Cherie, Lord Irving is probably the most obvious example and Alisdair Campbell (his common-law wife is her personal assistant). And friends of Tony? Well there's Lord Falconer, who knew Tony Blair from school and then Peter Mandelson, who although he knows Cherie from their days together in inner London Labour politics, tends to know Tony far better (there are supposed to be reasons for his distance from the wife of the Prime Minister, but I'll leave that to others).

This brings me to the idle object of my speculation, Lord Irvine. Derry is in trouble. But surprisingly it is post dated trouble. All these Labour lawyers who are up in arms about this dinner invitation are up in arms about an invitation for a dinner (with Mrs Blair as guest of honour) that already happened. Why the time-delay? And why is Irvine being defended so assiduously by Mr Campbell, yet plenty of MPs seem to be briefing against him? Why would they do that if he was so close to the leader? Is it, I wonder, a revenge attack? If looking at the Blairites as friends of Tony vs. friends of Cherie - the friends of Tony have taken a tremendous pounding recently. Mandelson is out. Falconer is reeling from the Dome. The friends of Cherie are now in the ascendant within the Blairite camp. So is this a way of levelling things?

Is our ruling class narrower than we realise?


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