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Monday, 22 April, 2002, 07:48 GMT 08:48 UK
Mowlam accuses party 'back-stabbers'
Peter Mandelson with Mo Mowlam when she was moved from the Northern Ireland Office
Mowlam accuses Mandelson of campaigning for her job
Former Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam claims she was "knifed in the back" by the Labour party because of her popularity with voters.

In her autobiography, Momentum, serialised in the Daily Mail, Dr Mowlam also accuses Peter Mandelson of campaigning for the job while she was still in the post.

Downing Street has always dismissed suggestions that it was involved in a smear campaign against Ms Mowlam.

But the ex-MP describes how her relationship with Prime Minister Tony Blair deteriorated after she won a standing ovation during his keynote speech at the 1998 Labour Party conference.

"I think this was the point when my relationship with Tony began to get rocky," she said.

I still can't bring myself to think Tony Blair okayed it all

Mo Mowlam

Dr Mowlam, who stood down from politics at the last election, says she was elbowed out of the job by Mr Blair's aides and became the victim of a whispering campaign to discredit her.

She said: "I denied it to myself, even when the evidence was staring me in the face. I still can't bring myself to think Tony Blair okayed it all."

She was "furious" when stories started appearing in the press that she was to be replaced in Northern Ireland by Peter Mandelson.

London mayor

She said the Prime Minister denied the media reports had come from Number 10 and promised her that she was not to be made Cabinet Enforcer, only to manoeuvre her into the position later.

She said she was also offered the job of Health Secretary.

"I was beginning to feel like a bag of potatoes they just wanted to dump somewhere so Peter Mandelson could get to Northern Ireland," she said.

Dr Mowlam also accuses the Prime Minister's chief-of-staff Jonathan Powell of being behind reports that she was going to stand as London mayor in March 1999.

Blair's style

She said: "My refusal to run for mayor was, I think, the last straw for Tony and Alastair Campbell, his chief spin doctor.

"Was it a coincidence that it was around this time that the most aggressive and vicious off-the-record briefing against me began?"

In her book, Ms Mowlam also criticises Mr Blair's style of leadership.

"What I think was so difficult for everybody to deal with was Tony's attitude that he knows best and he will prove that he is right."

Momentum is due to be published on 2 May.

See also:

16 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Mowlam savages 'presidential' Blair
04 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Mowlam 'may quit Commons'
05 Sep 00 | UK Politics
Mowlam rejects conspiracy theory
23 Jun 99 | UK Politics
Testing time for Mowlam
05 Sep 00 | UK Politics
'I was not forced out' - Mowlam
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