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Popular ex-British politician: Blair`s jealous circle sabotaged me (AP) ... and politics partly because Blair`s advisers were spreading rumors that her battle with a brain tumor had left her intellectually unfit.... - Apr 23 3:03 PM ET

Al Musella's Comments: (This is his personal views and are not necessarily the views of the Musella Foundation!)


Posted on: 04/24/2002

Tue Apr 23, 3:04 PM ET

By BETH GARDINER, Associated Press Writer

LONDON - One of Britain's most popular former politicians says a standing ovation was the beginning of the end of her career.

Mo Mowlam — who served as Northern Ireland secretary during Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites)'s first term — believes her boss and those around him pushed her out of office because they were jealous of voters' goodwill toward her, she writes in a forthcoming memoir, excerpted Monday by the tabloid Daily Mail.

Mowlam writes that her relationship with Blair soured after a crowd at the Labor Party's 1998 convention rose to its feet cheering when he mentioned her name during a speech.

She says those around Blair began trying to undermine her soon after by criticizing her to reporters and going around her on important issues.

"Looking back, I think this was the point when my relationship with Tony began to get rocky," she writes in her memoir "Momentum," to be published next month.

She eventually was moved to a lower-profile job and says she later quit the government and politics partly because Blair's advisers were spreading rumors that her battle with a brain tumor had left her intellectually unfit.

"I still can't bring myself to think Tony Blair okayed it all," she writes. "I like to think it was the arrogant young set in Downing Street (Blair's office) and those at Labor Party headquarters ... who like talking to journalists and want to sound important."

Until leaving public life last year, the 52-year-old Mowlam was one of Britain's most popular politicians, admired for her willingness to speak frankly, her bravery in fighting the brain tumor and her role in Northern Ireland's peace process.

Observers of the 22 months of negotiations that produced Northern Ireland's 1998 Good Friday peace agreement cited Mowlam's approachability. Although some Protestant politicians objected to her informality, her tenure appeared to encourage the Irish Republican Army (news - web sites)-tied Sinn Fein Party to participate in the peace process.

Mowlam, first elected to Parliament in 1987, writes that she began to feel isolated by colleagues after Blair's conference speech and recalls that newspapers soon started reporting that Blair confidante Peter Mandelson was interested in her job.

"It gradually became clear to me that I was being treated as a girlie — a popular female commodity who would be useful with the voters," she writes.

"I was no longer a comrade-in-arms fighting for the same causes. In fact, I was beginning to feel more like a bag of potatoes that they just wanted to dump somewhere so that Peter Mandelson could go to Northern Ireland."

Mandelson replaced her in 1999.

A spokeswoman for Blair declined to comment on the excerpts.

In response to similar comments Mowlam made in a recent television interview, the prime minister's office said, "It is very sad that she wishes to continue making these claims about a government of which she was a member and for which the prime minister believes she did a very good job."

Mowlam says in her memoir that the campaign against her intensified after she refused Blair's request to run for London mayor.

She also accused Blair of being too controlling, not trusting those around him and dismissing views differing from his own.

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