Brown 'scrapped 10p tax band to woo Murdoch'

Gordon Brown was so "obsessed" with trying to win the support of Rupert Murdoch while he was Prime Minister that he drew up his tax policies to appeal to the media magnate, according to a book published tomorrow.

Mr Brown later alleged there was a “conspiracy” against him involving Murdoch-owned newspapers and the Conservative Party, the book claims.

Lance Price, who was Alastair Campbell’s deputy at Downing Street during Tony Blair’s first term, discloses Mr Brown’s remarkable preoccupation with Mr Murdoch in a new edition of his book “Where Power Lies” published tomorrow.

It says Mr Brown’s disastrous decision to abolish the 10p starting rate of tax, which alienated many working class Labour supporters, stemmed from his desire to pander to Mr Murdoch. The money saved was used to cut the basic rate from 22p to 20p in the pound, and Mr Brown insisted there would be no losers.

“Gordon said it was all a media creation. He was in denial. Everybody looked at their shoes when he did it,” one civil servant told Price. Eventually, Mr Brown was forced into an expensive, humiliating climbdown.

Although the media mogul once described the former Prime Minister as “a friend of mine”, his News International papers – including The Sun, which had backed Tony Blair – endorsed David Cameron at last year’s general election.

The book reveals that No 10 aides would take bets on how long it would take Mr Brown to mention the Murdoch empire at meetings on unrelated subjects – often just a few minutes.

“He was obsessed with News International, completely obsessed,” said Patrick Loughran, a former Downing Street aide who was special adviser to Lord Mandelson. “We would go into meetings on election strategy or the pre-Budget report or some big announcement we were doing and within a minute Gordon would turn it into News International and Rebekah Brooks [the company’s chief executive]. He was absolutely obsessed that it was a News International conspiracy and they were in bed with the Tories.”

According to Price, Mr Brown acted as his own director of communications. “He was well qualified for the job, having spent years analysing the dynamics of news stories,” says the book. “Nonetheless prime ministers should not be their own press secretaries any more than they should be their own drivers. Brown knew that but throughout his time as prime minister he never found a person able and willing to do the kind of job Alastair Campbell and David Hill had done for Blair. It was a debilitating weakness in Brown’s operation and everybody could see it. And yet it was never resolved.”

In the run-up to last year’s election, Mr Brown decided to appoint his former press secretary Charlie Whelan as Labour’s director of communications. But the move was blocked by Lord Mandelson, an old enemy of Mr Whelan. “Charlie wanted to do it and Gordon wanted him but Peter vetoed it,” Mr Loughran told Price.

Lord Mandelson, brought back to the Cabinet and as unofficial Deputy Prime Minister, refused to speak to Damian McBride, a Brown spin doctor later forced to resign in 2009 after suggesting false smears about senior Tories for a Labour-supporting website.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum