Labour is no longer in power, and it would appear the backstage feud between former Primer Minister Tony Blair and his successor Gordon Brown has just taken center stage. According to The Guardian, Blair published his memoir, “A Journey,” which lambastes Brown as someone lacking emotional intelligence and political instinct. Their behind-the-scenes tensions after the Labour leadership battle of 1994, as BBC News reports, are being aired out on the day Labour prepares to cast a vote for a new leader. Blair’s version of the story, widely disowned by Brown’s political allies, is breaking publishing records for fastest-selling autobiography by a politician.
On the other side of the pond, Americans have seen their share of political treachery between former friends. If Blair and Brown are the Lennon and McCartney of British politics, we had former Senator Trent Lott and… well, the Republican Party. As Politico reported, Lott found many of his colleagues turned on him after he made ill-advised remarks at Senator Strom Thurmond’s birthday and was forced to step down as GOP leader. Some years later, he was selected to be their minority whip, and the irony was not lost on him as he recalled in his autobiography, “Herding Cats.”
“To become effective again, I had to shake some of the hands that held the daggers,” Lott was quoted to have said in Politico.
Perhaps a more apt analogy can be seen with the hard feelings between former President Bill Clinton and his Vice President, Al Gore. During Gore’s doomed campaign against George W. Bush, he felt he was held back by the scandals that plagued Clinton during his final days in office, Mother Jones reported.
As reported by CNN, Gore told a New Hampshire town hall, “I understand the disappointment and anger you felt toward President Clinton. I feel it myself. I also feel that the American people want to move on and turn the page and focus on the future, not the past.”
Later, Gore and Clinton would meet privately, and Gore’s account of his loss led Clinton to suggest he thought Gore was “in Neverland,” according to Mother Jones. The two argued back and forth, Clinton suggesting he didn’t care if Gore ran from Clinton’s affair scandal, but suggesting Gore failed because he didn’t run with a grand theme; after all, his own wife Hillary had become a New York Senator by touting the Clinton-Gore record. Gore reportedly was deeply upset still by the President’s lack of full honesty with him and by the 1996 re-election funding scandal.
The divisions may still be there to this day, but ultimately political partners who feel they’ve been slighted by one another are bound to feud. When large personalities occupy the same room, someone will feel he needs to have the spotlight, and that’s bound to lead to tension.
Polly Curtis, “Tony Blair’s memoirs: Gordon Brown holds fire over old rival’s criticism” The Guardian
BBC News, “Brown allies describe Blair criticism as ‘one-sided'”
Andrew Glass, “Political Backstabbing Is Alive and Well” Politico
CNN.com, “In town meeting, Gore criticizes Clinton behavior, Bradley defends Senate retirement”
David Corn, “Clinton on Gore: “I Thought He Was in Neverland”” Mother Jones