by RAY FLEMING
WHY was a decision taken at such very short notice to publish Cherie Blair's autobiography, Speaking for Myself, next Thursday instead of in October as had originally been intended? Does The Times, which is serialising it, need an urgent circulation boost? Or is it thought that something politically important is likely to happen before October that would affect its sales?

Although rumour has had it that Mrs Blair was advised to soften the first draft of her account of the tensions in the Blair-Brown relationship, the excerpts released yesterday were quite frank. And she sprang a surprise by saying in a related interview that Mr Blair has advised his successor on how he can win the next election - although, on the evidence of the results thus far, some of the other people Mr Blair is advising for large sums will be hoping they are getting better value for money. Concerning Lord Levy's recent claim that Blair had said Brown could not beat Cameron, Mrs Blair's splendid retort was: “Well, Lord Levy doesn't know anything!”

Cherie Blair's account of the discussions in 1994 leading to the agreement that Mr Blair rather than Gordon Brown should become Labour leader dismisses the many reports that the deal was done at the Granita restaurant in Islington - but only because all the discussions took place elsewhere! She is vague on the contentious issue of whether an understanding was reached on the timing for Blair to stand down in favour of Brown.