Blunkett attacks 'self-indulgent' Robinson

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Geoffrey Robinson, the former paymaster general, was attacked for "self-indulgence" by ministers yesterday as the Government geared up for the publication of his potentially explosive memoirs, An Unconventional Minister.

Geoffrey Robinson, the former paymaster general, was attacked for "self-indulgence" by ministers yesterday as the Government geared up for the publication of his potentially explosive memoirs, An Unconventional Minister.

In a concerted attempt to discredit the book, David Blunkett, Secretary of State for Education, and John Reid, the Scottish Secretary, launched a scathing attack on its serialisation. But the Tories seized on claims that Mr Robinson's autobiography would reignite the issue of his £373,000 home loan to Peter Mandelson that forced both men from office in December 1998.

David Heathcoat-Amory, the Conservative trade and industry spokesman, wrote to the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee calling for a fresh inquiry into the affair.

Mr Blunkett led the charge after a series of reports suggested that Mr Robinson would in effect accuse Mr Mandelson of misleading Parliament over his claim that the undeclared loan was unsolicited.

Without referring to Mr Robinson by name, Mr Blunkett attacked government insiders who were "in a position because of their wealth to be able to enjoy a comfortable life" and who put personal grudges ahead of the needs of Labour voters.

"My view is that those who have benefited a great deal from politics, or are in a position because of their wealth to be able to enjoy a comfortable life whatever happens, need to bear in mind the people in constituencies like mine who rely on a Labour government to have a job, to have a decent education, to have a health service to be proud of, and then reflect on what self-indulgence means for those people we represent," he told the BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme.

Mr Reid backed up Mr Blunkett, pointing out that Mr Mandelson had "paid the price" for his role in the home loan and attacking the resurrection of the issue. "It's not only froth, it's old froth," he said.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "We are not really in the business of helping people to sell books." In a measure of the Government's nervousness a Treasury source said: "Gordon [Brown, the Chancellor] asked him not to write it and he refused."

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