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Saturday, 17 November, 2001, 03:55 GMT
Mowlam savages 'presidential' Blair
Tony Blair and Gordon Brown
Ms Mowlam says there is a rift between Blair and Brown
Cabinet government is "dead" and Prime Minister Tony Blair acts like a US president, former Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam has said.

Ms Mowlam, who stepped down from Parliament at the last election, also confirmed a rift between Mr Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown, saying the two men "aren't working together".


Tony's acting more like a president than a prime minister and in that situation the cabinet itself is dead

Mo Mowlam
In a TV programme due to be screened on Saturday by the BBC, Ms Mowlam claims a small number of unelected advisers were wielding too much power in Mr Blair's administration.

The programme, Cabinet Confidential, with Michael Cockerell, also shows Mr Blair's war cabinet which includes his director of communications and strategy, Alastair Campbell and newly-appointed head of government relations, Sally Morgan.

Speaking about the prime minister's relationship with the chancellor, Ms Mowlam told the programme: "When you have two people that aren't working together... it doesn't lead to positive, easy, decision making.

Crippling

"You know there's a battle going on and people support, or people go to, one side or the other.

"I think that is just crippling for government."

The two men have gone out of their way in the past to prove they are close - once appearing together on a radio programme.

Mo Mowlam
Mr Prescott calls Ms Mowlam 'daft'
Mr Blair told Mr Cockerell he had an open door policy when it came to his senior colleagues.

"I would be pretty shocked if the first time I knew a cabinet minister felt strongly about something was if they raised it at the cabinet table," he said.

"I would expect them to come and knock on my door and say, 'Look, Tony, I've got a problem here. I disagree with that.'

"And that happens from time to time and then you sit down and work it out."

Ms Mowlam also comes under attack from Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott during the programme.


This is something which has evolved over the last 100 years and isn't solely the product of Tony Blair

Labour MP Graham Allen
Mr Prescott says his former colleague's recollection of being in the cabinet differed profoundly from his and he brands her "daft".

During the programme Ms Mowlam also suggests unelected advisers have more power than the cabinet in relation to the prime minister.

"They seemed to be operating instead of the cabinet," she said.

Advisers

"He makes decisions with a small coterie of people, advisers, just like the president of the United States.

"He doesn't go back to cabinet, he isn't inclusive in terms of other cabinet ministers and if he really wants to get the support of the public and the support of Parliament there has to be more people included."

Labour MP Graham Allen, who has written a book entitled The Last Prime Minister - Being Honest About the UK Presidency, said:

"The only surprising thing about Mo Mowlam's comments is that it has taken her so long to realise one of the central realities of British politics," he said.

"The sooner Cabinet ministers and former Cabinet ministers face the truth, the sooner we will be able to work out a way forward by strengthening other British political institutions to contain the British Presidency."

  • Cabinet Confidential will be shown on BBC2 at 1910 GMT on Saturday.

  •  WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Reeta Chakrabarti
    "The revalations are damaging because they come from a former cabinet insider"
    Michael Cockerell
    presenter of the documentary Cabinet Confidential
    See also:

    10 Sep 00 | UK Politics
    Mowlam 'sidelined by Blair'
    05 Sep 00 | UK Politics
    'I was not forced out' - Mowlam
    05 Sep 00 | UK Politics
    Mowlam rejects conspiracy theory
    16 Nov 01 | UK Politics
    Profile: Unorthodox Mo
    16 Nov 01 | Talking Point
    Is Tony Blair too presidential?
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