Evening Standard interview: a clarification

I gave an interview to the Evening Standard last week which is in today’s paper. Generally it’s a fair piece and reflects my views on Iraq (articulated previously on this blog) and other issues.

But one line that I took issue with was where the article says:

“Gordon Brown and Tony Blair have been a huge disappointment and let down the Labour Party,” he believes.

As readers of Left Foot Forward will know, I have been a defender of Gordon Brown and believe that the recent attempted coup against him was a mistake.

I have spoken to the writer of the article, David Cohen, and we shared our notes on the interview. It seems that I did make these comments towards the end of our conversation in the context of a wider discussion about Labour’s organisation (a topic on which I have co-edited a book) and some specific policy areas including the Government’s timidity in relation to the City and the lack of progress in tackling inequality – themes on which I regularly write.

I also mentioned earlier in the interview that, like others, I was disappointed by the lack of progress on constitutional reform under Gordon Brown. But I also noted that Brown had been buffeted by an economic and a political crisis not of his making. I want to reiterate here that, aside from these points, I do not regard Gordon Brown to have been a disappointment or to have let down the Labour party.

In relation to Blair, we discussed a number of issues where I praised his record as Prime Minister including some covered in the piece such as his record on education and health.

It is also worth noting that the article implies I have more strategic vision than is actually the case:

So it is fascinating that he should have picked this moment, as his 63-year-old father prepares to give evidence on Thursday to the Chilcot inquiry, to speak his mind and put clear water between the party that his dad represents and the new generation of young Left-wing progressives who, like him, are disenchanted with its direction.

David Cohen made the initial contact and the date was suggested by him.

I understand why the article has been written in the way that it has and have not sought a correction on the Evening Standard’s pages. But I thought some context would be helpful.

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