0

by RAY FLEMING
IF Gordon Brown no longer trusts Tony Blair, as some weekend newspapers suggested, he will not be the only one. Indeed, it is difficult to see how anyone examining Mr Blair's record, especially over Iraq, can trust him. At the same time it has to be said that Mr Brown is probably not the easiest of people to get on with. Having agreed in 1996 to let his close political friend Tony have “first go” at the leadership of the Labour party and the premiership, he probably realised too late that he had made a mistake and determined to try to run the whole government from the Treasury instead.

Much is being made of the prime minister's refusal last week to say that, if re-elected, he would re-appoint Mr Brown to the Treasury. But why should he give such an undertaking and paint himself into a corner on the matter? An obvious difficulty, however, is what other offer he could make to the man who is supposed to be the front-runner for the premiership when Mr Blair resigns as promised (!) in 2008/9. He could not be demoted and the Deputy Premiership is blocked by the burly figure of John Prescott. One idea that has been floated is that Mr Brown could be given a new “super department” of the Foreign Office and the Department of International Development (DID).

However, this would go against the principle that Labour has always supported, that International Development should be kept separate from the Foreign Office. Whenever a Conservative government put the two together, Labour subsequently took them apart. The idea is based on Mr Brown's commitment to Third World development but, as we have seen in the past few days, he can indulge this very well while sitting in the Treasury.