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Last Updated: Monday, 24 September 2007, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Vaz's Blair joke caught on tape
Keith Vaz
Mr Vaz asked Ms Blears to wink at him before speaking
Labour MP Keith Vaz has been caught on tape joking about the government of former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Preparing for a Q&A session on stage at the Labour conference, he told Hazel Blears to wait until her microphone was in the right position before speaking.

Communities Secretary Ms Blears joked: "Don't speak until you're spoken to."

Mr Vaz, a former Europe minister, replied: "Pretend it was like the old Cabinet." Both politicians laughed, not realising they had been recorded.

'Don't speak before'

Mr Vaz and Ms Blears were chatting on stage before a question-and-answer session involving several Cabinet ministers.

Just before she rose to give her conference address, Ms Blears asked: "How will you know that I know the answer?"

Mr Vaz, MP for Leicester East, replied: "Well, I don't. Just sort of wink at me. Don't start immediately because the mic has to go up.

"Don't speak before I call your name."

To which Ms Blears, MP for Salford, said: "Don't speak until you're spoken to."

Mr Vaz then joked: "Pretend it was like the old Cabinet."

It is not the first time a politician has been caught off-guard on tape.

In the mid-1990s the then prime minister, John Major, was recorded describing un-named members of his Cabinet as "bastards".

More recently, Tony Blair and US President George W Bush were caught by a microphone during a break at the G8 conference in Russia. Mr Bush greeted his ally with the words "Yo, Blair".

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