Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Alistair Darling...behind every great man

Whizzing through the Alistair Darling book this morning digging for any gems that haven't been excavated in the serialisation and the leaks of the memoir to Labour Uncut.

I'm not struck by anything major so far but the concern I raised about the Sunday Times reducing its serialisation fees seems to have been borne out, according to Nick Watt of the Guardian.

Reading these books as journalists do, via the index, I'm struck by the very generous references Darling makes to Catherine MacLeod, our former Herald colleague, who joined him as media adviser when he became Chancellor.

At every twist in the tale Catherine is there offering the straight-talking advice and wisdom that are her trademark. For example, when it came to the release of the Lockerbie bomber Catherine told Downing Street that Prime Ministerial silence just wouldn't wash. Brown's advisers slapped her down, insisting it was a Scottish story. Catherine said they were wrong (and they were), it was a story that would reverberate around the world.

Darling also confirms in the book that it was Catherine, and his wife Maggie Vaughan (another former Herald journalist), who gave him the willpower to resist Brown when the Prime Minister tried to sack his chancellor in 2009.

I suspected as much at the time and in the aftermath phoned Catherine to ask if it was indeed the Vaughan-MacLeod axis that had seen the Brownites off.

I got a typical MacLeod reply - short and sweet. Catherine quipped back: "Aye it was us, and no Balls between us."

Behind every great man, as they say...

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