Blair's aide: New Labour is 'contaminated'

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Indy Politics

In the second leak this week of a memo from within Tony Blair's inner circle, the Prime Minister's chief pollster warned that "something has gone seriously wrong" and declared the New Labour brand to be "badly contaminated".

In the second leak this week of a memo from within Tony Blair's inner circle, the Prime Minister's chief pollster warned that "something has gone seriously wrong" and declared the New Labour brand to be "badly contaminated".

The leak of the memo by Philip Gould comes only two days after the damaging disclosure of a memo by the Prime Minister in which he admitted that the Government looked "out of touch" with the British people on key policy issues.

The timing of the leak, on the same day as Gordon Brown's spending review, was aimed to cause maximum damage to the Government in a week Mr Blair had intended to mark the end of its recent turmoil.

In the memo, written by Mr Gould in early May, he said: "Our current situation is serious. There is absolutely no room for complacency. Perhaps worst of all, the New Labour brand has been badly contaminated. Something has gone seriously wrong - but what?"

He said that the Labour's majority looked as if it was going to "fall dramatically" at the next general election.

"There is growing evidence that the settled pattern of Labour's poll lead has been broken by recent events. I have a sense of government which started with great strength but has seen that strength ebb away and erode as much as the months and years have passed.

"We lack confidence in power. We lack politicians genuinely in tune with thepeople. (How many ministers genuinely want to be tough on crime)?"

Issues which had caused problems had been anticipated but this had not been turned into effective preventive action, Mr Gould wrote. "The cost of all this has been high. We are outflanked on patriotism and crime, we have been assailed for spin and broken promises, we are not believed to have delivered, we are disliked on the left for being right-wing, we are disliked on the right for being politically correct."

As with the leak of Mr Blair's memo, the document was passed to The Times and The Sun newspapers.

A Downing Street spokesman said the disclosure would be the subject of another leak investigation.

Asked whether the Prime Minister believed that a "dirty tricks" campaign was under way, the spokesman said: "We don't know who is behind this, but it is clearly someone who wants to detract from the real issues and what the Government is doing.

"No doubt, on the day of the spending review, our opponents are desperate to talk about anything other than the serious issues facing the country, like the economy and jobs and investing in our public services."

Sir Richard Wilson, the Cabinet Secretary, is already conducting an inquiry into the leak of Mr Blair's memo.

Fraser Kemp, a co-ordinator in Labour's 1997 general election campaign and LabourMP for Houghton and Washington East, challenged the Conservative leadership to deny it had any involvement with the leaks. "Labour's political enemies are orchestrating a finely tuned series of leaks in an attempt to damage the Government," he said.

"It has now gone beyond reasonable coincidence, with the latest episode coming on the very day of Gordon Brown's spending review. This reinforces the view that this ispolitically motivated.

"I challenge Tory leader William Hague to confirm or deny that there is any direct or indirect Conservative involvement in these leaks."

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