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Sympathy not anger at Peter Watt [Jan. 19th, 2010|10:58 am]
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Peter Watt, Labour’s former general secretary, who has written an explosive book revealing the Blair-Brown faultline running through New Labour, admits that Labour activists may be disappointed that he has published in the run-up to the general election. Watt, who says he was forced out after being branded a criminal by Gordon Brown over £600,000 of proxy donations from property developer David Abrahams, points out that there will probably be a glut of books about Labour on the market after the election (a tacit admission ththe party expects to lose). What he didn’t say is that he would have got made a lot less from the fascinating serialisation in the “Mail on Sunday” if he had waited until after the election.
His book paints an unflattering portrait of Brown, just when he didn’t need it. Yet I do not detect much anger being directed at Watt by Labour MPs. Among his former Labour colleagues at party HQ, there is some sympathy for him over the way he was hung out to dry by Brown. Watt, who was not prosecuted after an 18-month investigation, handled himself well in media interviews this week, in effect arguing that anyone would be bitter after his treatment.
His boy-next-door looks make him an unlikely assassin but he has wounded Brown. The PM’s critics say it’s desperately grabbing a headline (sacking Watt after the law had been broken) which later rebounds on him, causing more damage than the original problem. “The chickens have come home to roost,” one minister told me.