Derek Simpson backs moderate to lead Unite
Leaked emails over Mike Hancock scandal
David Miliband tipped for top EU job
87% of MPs raking it in with second jobs
David Cameron exclusive interview
"Red Ed" negotiates a minefield
"Red" Ed's knife-edge win
Don't strike over cuts, says union boss
Harman blocks Gordon Brown's farewell honours
Child benefit for older kids faces axe
Ed Miliband edges ahead of bruv in Labour leadership race
Blair's book: the best bits

So, the long awaited memoirs of Tony Blair have finally arrived, and journalists across the country are busily pouring through it in the hope of finding a key insight into his reign of power.

Below we'll be updating some of the best bits as we stumble across them. If you find any yourself, let us know in the comment box and we'll include them.

An interesting revelation Blair's close relationship with aide Anji Hunter on p.17:

"Anji was my best friend. We had known each other since the age of 16 when I had tried climbing into her sleeping bag at a party in the north of Scotland (without success!"

Blair also pours scorn over Ed Balls' campaign to be Labour leader, with a few carefully thrown insults:

“He has guts and he can take decisions. But he suffers from the bane of all left-leaning intellectuals. As I have remarked elsewhere, these guys never ‘get’ aspiration”

He describes Balls' view of his leadership as "truly muddled and ultimately very damaging", and says his views on tax in 2005 were "nonsense".

And Blair doesn't hold back on his old rival Gordon Brown either, saying he is "Difficult, at times maddening", with "Zero emotional intelligence."

He adds: "Was he difficult, at times maddening? Yes. But he was also strong, capable and brilliant, and those were qualities for which I never lost respect.

"Political calculation, yes. Political feelings, no. Analytical intelligence, absolutely. Emotional intelligence, zero."

"When he was my number two, in a sense, as chancellor to my prime minister, people maybe overestimated his capacity to be prime minister. I think in the last three years when he was prime minister people maybe underestimated his strengths."

On wife Cherie’s controversial decision to buy two flats in Bristol in 2002 after advice from Peter Foster, a convicted conman:

“Cherie should never have tried to buy the Bristol flats, but Euan was at university there and she thought they might be useful. The trouble is that you can’t really do that as a prime minister’s wife, for no better reason than you just can’t.”

And here's a great insight in dealing with the Queen at the G8 summit:

“The Queen handled them all well though some guests didn’t quite know how to handle her. Some got matey with her. Now let me tell you something:you don’t get matey with the Queen. Occasionally she can get matey with you, but don’t try to reciprocate or you get The Look.”

On John Prescott's fling with Tracey Temple.

“In purely selfish terms it would have been better to fire him, I knew that. It would have given the media their scalp. It would have allowed some change at the top and, even if that had turned into a TB/GB (Tony Blair/Gordon Brown) contest, it would have served to flush people out. But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.”

On Cherie again:

"Cherie didn’t always help herself, and...she had this incredible instinct for offending the powerful, especially in the media.. Mutual cordial loathing about best sums up her relationship with a large part of the press. Some of the criticism she would accept was valid. It was the lack of balance that wasn’t”.

And he sticks up for George Bush, despite their controversial relationship:

“George had immense simplicity in how he saw the world. Right or wrong, it led to decisive leadership. Now you may disagree strongly with the decisions, but the opposite also has its problems.”  

And on Dubya's infamous 'Yo Blair!' quip at the 2006 G8 summit in St Petersburg.

“People went nuts back home in Britain, for some reason finding it an insult to Britain. We have become something we never really used to be: chippy. Personally I didn’t have the chip, so I thought to ‘Yo, Blair’ greeting funny.”

On Diana, Princess of Wales:

 “We were both in our ways manipulative people, perceiving quickly the emotions of others and able instinctively to play with them,”

Revealing Prince Charles' thoughts on John Prescott:

“Does he ever do that thing with you?” asked the Prince. “When he’s sitting opposite you, he slides down the seat with his legs apart, his crotch pointing a little menacingly, and balances his teacup and saucer on his tummy. It’s very odd. I’ve never seen someone do that before. What do you think it means?”

On David Blunkett:

"I adored and deeply admired David, and also found his whole attitude over his child - he wouldn’t give up on access, despite the threat of publicity if he proceeded - very principled. He was a truly decent guy, a great political talent. He picked the wrong woman, Easy to do. Fatal in politics.”

Alistair Campbell, his spin-doctor in chief and one of the most controversial figures of the Blair years is his "alter-ego":

“Like all creative people he can snap, but for most of the time - especially in those years of Oppostion and the first part of government - he was indispensable, irreplaceable, almost an alter-ego.”

Perhaps the part of the book which will attract most attention is Blair speaking on Iraq. His premiership has been overshadowed by the intensely controversial conflict - but the former PM comes out fighting:

"I can't regret the decision to go to war. I can say that never did I guess the nightmare that unfolded. The truth is we did not anticipate the role of al-Qaida or Iran. Whether we should have is another matter; and if we had anticipated, what we would have done about it is another matter again."

"Do they really suppose I don't care, don't feel, don't regret with every fibre of my being the loss of those who died.

"The anguish arises from a sense of sadness that goes beyond conventional description or the stab of compassion you feel on hearing tragic news.

"Tears, though there have been many, do not encompass it. I feel desperately sorry for them, sorry for the lives cut short, sorry for the families whose bereavement is made worse by the controversy over why their loved ones died, sorry for the utterly unfair selection that the loss should be theirs."

The fox hunting ban:
"The passions aroused by the issue were primeval. If I'd proposed solving the pension problem by compulsory euthanasia for every fifth pensioner I'd have got less trouble. By the end of it, I felt like the damn fox."

"David Cameron was clever and people-friendly, and I thought he had some real steel to him, but he had not gone through the arduous but ultimately highly educative apprenticeship I had gone through in the 1980s and early 1990s."
Barack Obama

Diana's relationship with Dodi Fayed

For all I know he was a good son and a nice guy; so if you ask me, well, spit it out, what was wrong, I couldn't frankly say, but I felt uneasy and I knew some of her close friends – people who really loved her – felt the same way.
On alcohol
By the standards of days gone by I was not even remotely a toper, and I couldn't do lunchtime drinking except on Christmas Day, but if you took the thing everyone lies about – units per week – I was definitely at the other limit. Stiff whisky or G&T before dinner, couple of glasses of wine or even half a bottle with it. So not excessive. I had a limit. But I was aware it had become a prop.

Brilliant spot at the Spectator's excellent Coffeehouse blog - they've compiled a list of Blair's best sex scenes...


"…that night she cradled me in her arms and soothed me; told me what I needed to be told; strengthened me; made me feel that I was about to do was right … On that night of the 12th May, 1994, I needed that love Cherie gave me, selfishly. I devoured it to give me strength. I was an animal following my instinct, knowing I would need every ounce of emotional power to cope with what lay ahead. I was exhilarated, afraid and determined in roughly equal quantities."


"Anji was my best friend. We had known each other since the age of 16 when I had tried climbing inside her sleeping bag at a party in the North-West of Scotland (without success!).

She had looked after me at university, turned up in my life again when I was an MP and had been with me ever since. She was sexy and exuberant and used both attributes to devastating effect."


"We met [Tony and Gordon meet in a variety of clandestine destinations while carving up the Labour leadership in the mid-1990s] in the flat owned by the parents of my old girlfriend and first love, Amanda Mackenzie Stuart ... And I loved the romance of meeting at Amanda's. You know the first person you ever fall in love with; you know the incredible outpouring of desire, the overwhelming sense of something unique, inexpressible, inexplicable and even at points incomprehensible, but so thrilling, uplifting, your heart pumping and soaring? I was eighteen, in my last year of Fettes. She was the only girl at the school - the first, the experiment, and so chosen because she was the daughter of the chairman of the governors... I wasn't afraid there, and somehow in some slightly odd way, in Amanda's home, surrounded by evidence of

her presence, I felt a confidence about the task in hand..." 

On himself:

“It is true that my head can sometimes think conservatively especially on economics and security; but my heart always beats progressive, and my soul is and always will be that of a rebel.”

And if you really can't be bothered to read the whole thing, those smarty pants over at the FT have crunched the book into 5 easy paragraphs.

"The first MP I ever met was Michael Spicer, who was introduced to me by my father. He and my father were both Tories, and I admired them, but I soon realised they were wrong.

I began to have premonitions, and realised it was my duty – my destiny – to lead the Labour party and the country. I changed the party, I made us electable and I defeated the Tories. For my first act in power, I decided to make the Bank of England independent. Gordon might tell you it was his idea, but he is wrong.

In the early days, Gordon was my friend, my rock, my lover. I wooed him when I ran for leader but we soon began to have tiffs. He did not support me as he should have and he did not really back public sector reform. He was wrong.

I learned about liberal interventionism from watching Schindler’s List, an amazing film, as I told Steven Spielberg. It was from watching this that I realised we had to invade Iraq. I cry myself to sleep thinking about the deaths that war has triggered but I cannot apologise, because I was not wrong.

I am not backing anyone in the leadership election, but I can tell you this: Diane Abbott, Andy Burnham, Ed Balls and Ed Miliband – they are all wrong."



    Keeping one eye on the rest of the web
  Westminster blog spy