ABSTRACT

The relationship between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, which dominated British politics between 1997 and 2010, was dogged by two major misunderstandings. The first was created by the protagonists themselves at a meeting before the party’s 1994 leadership election. Brown had been persuaded not to stand, despite his superior claims on paper. He was convinced after the meeting that Blair had promised to step down as party leader after a limited period and would do his best to ensure that Brown would succeed him. All one can say about this much debated incident is that a promise of that kind could hardly be considered to be binding regardless of circumstances – which, indeed, would have been absurd in a country where political fortunes could be transformed in the course of a few hours – and that Blair acted in future as if the ‘deal’ had been a guarantee that Brown would enjoy considerable influence over domestic policy, rather than an agreed leadership transition.