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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 July 2007, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
Martha Kearney's week
By Martha Kearney
Presenter, BBC Radio 4's The World at One

We saw the culmination of three carefully-calculated political strategies this week.

Former aide Alastair Campbell and Tony Blair
Alastair Campbell's diaries provided fascinating anecdotes

At 0800 on Monday morning Alastair Campbell's long-awaited diaries were published - an interesting embargo time as it meant that when he appeared on the stellar 0810 slot on the Today Programme, John Humphrys had been unable to read the book.

That could not possibly have been the purpose of the embargo, could it?

There were certainly some fascinating anecdotes in the book but Campbell said he did not want to provide a goldmine for the Conservatives so we'll have to wait for the unexpurgated version to get the full account of the TB-GBs.

As the historian Anthony Seldon told the World at One, this book is a bit like Hamlet without the prince.

On Tuesday came a publication which is less likely to hit the bestseller list - Iain Duncan Smith's Commission on Social Justice. The title was borrowed from a previous report commissioned by the former Labour leader John Smith and written by Patricia Hewitt.

Iain Duncan Smith
Iain Duncan Smith's report was cleverly trailed

The secretary was a fresh faced, intense researcher from the IPPR think tank - a certain David Miliband.

She has now been pushed out of the cabinet; he is at the grandest office in Whitehall at the Foreign Office.

With a certain symmetry IDS is now doing a report for David Cameron who was a young special adviser when Duncan Smith was leading the charge against Maastricht.

The IDS report was very cleverly trailed. Details of individual proposals were leaked every day so stories about the report dominated the headlines over the weekend.

Marriage support

The biggest story from the report was about increasing support for marriage within the tax system.

In the earliest stage of his leadership campaign, David Cameron's team asked whether any of his policies could be called right wing in order to appeal to the party grassroots .

He came up with withdrawal from the European People's Party and marriage.

cards and chips in a casino
Gordon Brown revealed super-casino plans would be reviewed

Even though the IDS commission is just advisory, stories about Conservative support for marriage have soothed a lot of ruffled feathers among the Tory faithful and given David Cameron new momentum after some difficult weeks.

Perhaps it was that which provoked a strange event on Wednesday when Gordon Brown's big Not The Queen's Speech speech was pushed down the news agendas by a story of his own devising.

In Prime Minister's Questions on the same day he let slip that there would be a review of super-casinos. Nick Robinson then told us on the World at One that the Manchester super-casino was "dead in the water".

Distancing operation

Was this a sign of panic in the Gordon Brown team about David Cameron's revival?

The prime minister may have overshadowed his own housing announcement but the aim was clear - to draw a line under the Blair years and some of his more controversial policies.

The distancing operation is becoming more obvious as the days go by. Gordon Brown frequently criticises "sofa government" - the notorious criticism of Tony Blair from the Butler Report.

On Friday Douglas Alexander's speech in Washington was widely interpreted as setting a new tone in the UK's relationship with the United States - this was explored in an interview with the new international development secretary by Shaun Ley on the World at One.

If Gordon Brown continues to criticise Tony Blair's policies - even in code - I wonder how long the so-called Blairite outriders can keep their silence.

Is that the gnashing of teeth I can hear as far away as Brussels?

Super-casino future put in doubt
11 Jul 07 |  UK Politics
Tories consider family tax reform
10 Jul 07 |  UK Politics
Profile: Alastair Campbell
29 Aug 03 |  UK Politics


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