Blair supports Gould despite leaked memos

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Indy Politics

Tony Blair gave his strong backing to his opinion pollster Philip Gould yesterday despite the leaking of embarrassing reports written by him.

Tony Blair gave his strong backing to his opinion pollster Philip Gould yesterday despite the leaking of embarrassing reports written by him.

The Prime Minister said: "He is an adviser and people write notes that are designed to challenge, and quite right too. He has done a very good job for the Labour Party over the years."

His firm declaration of support for Mr Gould came as some Labour MPs called for him to be sacked after the leak of memos in which he warned that Mr Blair was seen as "all spin and presentation" and out of touch with the voters. They urged the Prime Minister to stop listening to Mr Gould's focus groups and start listening to his own MPs.

Gordon Prentice, MP for Pendle, said: "I think a huge amount of damage has been done by these leaked memos, a million times more times damage than any disillusioned backbencher could do. If there is a steady drip of these memos throughout the summer, goodness knows where that will leave us."

Brian Iddon, MP for Bolton South East, said Labour backbenchers would make the best focus group. He said Mr Blair had rejected a warning by him at a private Downing Street meeting that the 75p-a-week rise in the basic state pension would anger pensioners.

Speaking to journalists as he flew to Japan for a G8 summit of world leaders, Mr Blair was besieged with questions about the spate of leaks which have destabilised the Government and overshadowed its decision to pump £43bn into public services.

"In the end [the leaks] is not what will determine whether people vote for us or don't vote for us," he said. "What they will want to know is that we are delivering on the public services."

Downing Street suspects that a batch of documents was obtained by The Sunday Times, which published the first two of Mr Gould's leaked memos.

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