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The TB-GBs
September 30, 2012 10:57 AM   Subscribe

The tale of the day eight years ago when Gordon Brown went to Washington and heard that Tony Blair wasn't going to stand down for him ahead of the 2005 general election, as told by Brown's former special advisor Damian McBride.

Turns out all that speculation from the outside about the Blair-Brown relationship was spot on. McBride also made a name for himself for a little foiled black ops. Also recommended: his previous post on how Brown ran the Budget, and how Osborne got it wrong.
posted by imperium (24 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
It’s at these moments that three thoughts go through your head: 1. Oh shit; 2. Why does no-one take the time to send you a text which helpfully and succinctly explains what the hell is going on?; and 3. Oh shit.

Fascinating, thanks.
posted by paduasoy at 11:43 AM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


He's right about us being sick of Cameron already.
posted by arcticseal at 11:46 AM on September 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


From the BBC black-ops link: "David Cameron: 'Gordon Brown hired these people, he sets the tone'".

*cough*Andy Coulson*cough*
posted by marienbad at 11:49 AM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


univac, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were rivals for the Labour leadership in the early 1990s, and Blair won. Despite the bitterness between them, Blair appointed Brown as his Chancellor when he won his landslide in 1997, and the belief was that a deal had been struck that he'd hand over power to Brown in good time. When this supposed handover kept slipping further and further away, the media reported that the relationship between them had become poisonous (known as the TB-GBs for obvious reasons). This piece is by one of the people, other than the two protagonists, most likely to know if that was right or not.
posted by imperium at 11:50 AM on September 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


What a ruthless business. This was fascinating, thanks!
posted by maxwelton at 11:55 AM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


For an entertaining primer for context you could watch Stephen Frears' The Deal
posted by Bwithh at 12:08 PM on September 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


"2. Why does no-one take the time to send you a text which helpfully and succinctly explains what the hell is going on?"

Some things are universal. (Please, my God, send me a text. If you aren't putting it in writing, I know you're up to no good.)
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 12:08 PM on September 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


This chap considers Brown "the consummate political genius."

Bollocks.

Thanks for this though, it is fascinating. While I am neither very politically minded nor at all British, I am unusually obsessed with the whole New Labor era. Alastair Campbell's diaries are astonishingly interesting, even though I don't really care about the politics. It's like that hologram chess game in Star Wars, and yes, the wookie always wins (and the wookie isn't Gordon Brown!).

Someday I will get to Peter Mandelson's books, and GB's too.
posted by chavenet at 1:26 PM on September 30, 2012


So this is how non-US MeFites feel when we make posts about US politics that make no sense without context.

Actually most of the world makes a point of watching what the 600lb gorilla is up to.
posted by srboisvert at 2:13 PM on September 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


This quote jumped out, and reminded that The Thick Of It is as much documentary as fiction:

"It was also due – and I take full credit/responsibility for this – to my Admiral Byng approach to leaks. If anything did appear in the papers that was not from X, Y or Z, I would instantly name a culprit. I’d try and choose someone who was a decent suspect, but their guilt didn’t really matter – it was the assertion of their guilt that mattered. They would be cut out of meetings, removed from the circulation list for emails, and wherever they walked in the Treasury, people would mutter about their demise. The effect of this was to make the actual guilty party feel guilty as hell, and put the fear of God into everyone else in the Treasury about doing any leaking themselves. As for the poor Admiral Byngs, they’d usually recover after a while, and some of them were probably guilty anyway."
posted by Wordshore at 2:30 PM on September 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


univac, Tony Blair was the prime minister of Britain. Gordon Brown was the finance minister. Both were Labour.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:12 PM on September 30, 2012


I quite like Damian McBride's blog.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:14 PM on September 30, 2012


You can't help but feel sorry for Gordon Brown...
posted by KokuRyu at 3:17 PM on September 30, 2012


Kofi Annan: Tony Blair could ultimately have stopped Iraq war. Former UN secretary general says in memoirs he admired ex-British PM until he failed to stand up to US over invasion
posted by homunculus at 3:18 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


This reminds me I need to watch the new episode of The Thick of It.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:52 PM on September 30, 2012


I still think Gordon Brown should have a statue in Westminster to commemorate his role in keeping the UK off the Euro.
posted by Grimgrin at 5:46 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Holy crap are there new episodes of 'the thick of it'?
posted by pymsical at 7:38 PM on September 30, 2012


There's an entirely new series out.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:39 PM on September 30, 2012


oh! Brilliant! Thank you! Need to get a hold of it without the bleeps that it appears the us version has (i might be wrong, did some frantic excited ipad-bound googling).

On topic, I enjoyed reading mcbride's writing, thanks for the post.
posted by pymsical at 8:06 PM on September 30, 2012


Apparently the unjust , highly politicized fate of British Admiral John Byng also inspired the French phrase "pour encourager les autres"
posted by Bwithh at 9:22 PM on September 30, 2012


My deleted comment lives on in others' comments.

Interesting story - it would be interesting to see some first-person insider accounts of US politics. Seems that they're all message-sanitized and not truly candid.
posted by univac at 10:10 PM on October 1, 2012


MetaFilter: My deleted comment lives on in others' comments.
posted by homunculus at 12:12 AM on October 2, 2012


So this is how non-US MeFites feel when we make posts about US politics that make no sense without context.

Actually most of the world makes a point of watching what the 600lb gorilla is up to.
posted by srboisvert at 10:13 PM on September 30


Unless I'm suffering through lack-of-coffee inattention it seems the comment you refer to has been deleted. Christ alone knows why. It was a wryly amusing observation, referencing an oft-made complaint about Americanocentrism on Mefi in a way that was relevant to this post. Apparently that sort of thing isn't allowed now.
posted by Decani at 2:23 AM on October 2, 2012


I don't think that really should have been removed, not least because a variety of subsequent comments look baffling. I didn't take it the wrong way, although I might have preferred it not to be the first comment..
posted by imperium at 1:39 PM on October 2, 2012


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