Heseltine thinks of sharing limelight with Blair

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The Independent Online
Michael Heseltine is a man with a powerful nose for power and always has been. After visiting the offices of the up-and-coming Labour leader Tony Blair on Thursday to discuss the Millennium project, he has invited himself to a appear with Mr Blair at a high-profile event given by Labour's favourite think-tank. In a cheeky move which had New Labour apparatchiks spluttering with confusion, the Deputy Prime Minister demanded to speak at the launch of Promoting Prosperity, the report of the Institute of Public Policy Research's business commission.

He wrote to the IPPR chair,Baroness Blackstone, yesterday expressing "surprise" that no minister had an opportunity to appear. "As the minister with overall responsibility for taking forward the competitiveness agenda, I must ask that you give me such an opportunity." Organisers had expected Mr Blair to be their star guest, but it seems Mr Heseltine may have succeeded in an attempt to upstage him. There was great behind-the-scenes consternation.

Nevertheless, Lady Blackstone wasted little time replying, though it is difficult to tell from reading her letter whether it was written with gritted teeth. "We would of course be delighted to hear the views of the Government at the launch. I am sure we can find a way of fitting you in."

Last night a spokesman for Mr Heseltine said he thought he might have appeared with Mr Blair before - the Labour leader will speak an hour before the Deputy Prime Minister, with a coffee break in between.