Leader: Denials of Labour plot ring hollow

SO the plot thickens and the plotters have been further exposed. The latest, and most detailed, revelations about the attempted coup to oust Prime Minister Tony Blair by the then Chancellor Gordon Brown and his supporters could almost be out of Armando Iannucci's satire The Thick Of It were it they were not so serious.

From the books published by Mr Blair himself and his most senior aide, Alastair Campbell, we did know relations between 10 and 11 Downing Street were poisonous and the faction-fighting which the deterioration in the relationship between the men who created New Labour generated virtually paralysed domestic policy making after the 2005 election.

But what is shown by the new reports, which are based on private papers of key Brown ally Ed Balls, is just how much Mr Brown and his allies loathed Mr Blair, with the then Chancellor scribbling on a note that the man who he believed had promised to stand aside for him was shallow, inconsistent, muddled and showed bad judgment.

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Mr Balls, the shadow chancellor, yesterday said the documents, including one which set out a plan to re-brand Mr Brown, did not prove there had been a plot to force Mr Blair out, a ludicrous claim.

The current Labour leader Ed Miliband, who was also a Brown ally and involved, dismissed the revelations, saying they were history and Labour had learned from the mistakes of the past. Yet with these two men now at the top of the party such assurances have a very hollow ring.