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The BBC's political correspondent, June Kelly
"Mowlam insists she did not co-operate with the author"
 real 56k

Author, Julia Langdon
She said, 'You know me better than anybody don't you'
 real 28k

Peter Mandelson, Northern Ireland Secretary
"Rumours, rumours, rumours"
 real 56k

Sunday, 10 September, 2000, 04:30 GMT 05:30 UK
Mowlam 'sidelined by Blair'
Mo Mowlam
Mo Mowlam has not authorised the book
Mo Mowlam was frozen-out and humiliated by the prime minister while she was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, according to a new biography.

The Cabinet Office minister shocked Westminster last Monday by announcing she is to quit Parliament at the next general election.

The biography by political journalist Julia Langdon, claims Dr Mowlam was "cold-shouldered" by Mr Blair in front of President Bill Clinton and had responsibilities of the Ulster post taken away from her.

The book also alleges that Chancellor Gordon Brown "hated" her and used his influence to ensure she would not get the spending department post she is said to have so desired.

Mo Mowlam makes her farewell speech as NI secretary
Mandelson is said to have been highly critical of her
Initial extracts of the biography, which Dr Mowlam is said to have sanctioned but not authorised, have been published in The Mail on Sunday.

The book also says that when Peter Mandelson succeeded her in Ulster last year, he railed at "the damage caused by that woman", while she in turn warned he would be "hopeless" in the job.

Mandelson dismisses 'rumours'

But Mr Mandelson, speaking on BBC's Breakfast With Frost programme, dismissed Ms Langdon's book as being based on "rumours, rumours, rumours".

He denied briefing against his predecessor.

Mr Mandelson said: "What is interesting about this book, and probably others that we are going to see, is that they are not actually written for the book shops here.

"They are not written for people to read by and large.

"They are written for serialisation in the newspapers where the authors get huge sums of money and to get those huge sums of money, of course, they have to flam everything up, sensationalise, at which point the truth flies out of the window.

Mr Mandelson said he had not considered taking legal action over the book because he had "lots of other problems" on his plate.

"You know these books are about the past. They are not about the future and quite honestly, I have enough on my plate in the meantime to get on with without worrying (about books)."

The book alleges Dr Mowlam's relationship with Downing Street began to deteriorate sharply when Mr Blair and his closest aides effectively took over her role in the Northern Ireland peace process negotiations.

She is said to have resented in particular the way her position was allegedly undermined by Mr Blair's chief of staff Jonathan Powell and the extent to which Mr Blair relied on the advice of his press secretary Alastair Campbell.

In one incident, the book says, the prime minister practically ignored Dr Mowlam in front of President Clinton, prompting her to tell the US leader: "Didn't you know? I'm the new tea lady around here".

'Clash with Brown'

On another occasion, when talks were being held at Hillsborough, Dr Mowlam was allegedly reduced to the role of hostess, finding beds for people and making sure they were fed.

It goes on to say that Mr Blair offered Dr Mowlam the post of Secretary of State for Health but she declined, fearing Gordon Brown - with whom she is said to have a personality clash - would withhold funding from the department if she took the job.

Earlier this week, Dr Mowlam said in a radio interview that Ms Langdon's book was "unauthorised".

"I read it, but I had no control over what she said. They are her views and not mine," she said.

The MP for Redcar says she decided to write a book herself last year when her husband lost his job.

She said her book would concentrate on the two years of the Northern Ireland peace process.

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See also:

05 Sep 00 | UK Politics
Mowlam rejects conspiracy theory
04 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Mowlam the 'risk taker' bows out
04 Sep 00 | UK Politics
Mo Mowlam - genuinely loveable
04 Sep 00 | UK
Profile: Unorthodox Mo
04 Sep 00 | UK Politics
Mo Mowlam: Political reaction
02 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Mowlam: Follett claims are rubbish
03 Feb 00 | UK Politics
Whitehall 'put the knife in' - Mowlam
11 Dec 99 | UK Politics
Mowlam offered book deal
11 Nov 99 | UK Politics
Mowlam: 'I'm fed up'
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