“Hi Margaret? Hi, it’s Gordon.”

If you want to find out what’s really happening in the Cabinet, and what one member thinks of others, just be a skilled impressionist. That’s what TV comic Rory Bremner did by ringing up Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett and pretending to be Chancellor (and PM-in-waiting) Gordon Brown.

The tape of the conversation is locked away for legal reasons, but The Sunday Telegraph has published a transcript. The conversation took place on the day before the 2005 General Election.

It demonstrates that Beckett knew what the rest of us had already figured out (as paraphrase by the Telegraph),

– John Prescott’s empire was ineffective and should be broken up

– Patricia Hewitt was “out of her depth”

– Alan Milburn couldn’t “hack” it as party chairman

– Stephen Byers was a “bit of a risk”

And those are some of the people who take collective responsibility for running this country.

Bremner doesn’t just pick on Labour. Back in the mid-1990s, he rang three Tory MPs pretending to be John Major. Like the fake Brown conversation, those tapes never made it to air either.


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