The Hotmail Plot and Other Conspiracies against Gordon Brown
The Hotmail Plot was an alleged conspiracy by a number of British Labour Members of Parliament to unseat Prime Minister Gordon Brown during the first week of June 2009, and which might or might not have been connected with the alleged Pugin Room Plot, and whose developments became entangled with the results of the UK European and County Elections 2009, an imminent Cabinet Reshuffle, speculations regarding who should occupy the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, as well as the ongoing crisis regarding parliamentary expenses.
Move Over Darling
In the wake of a Budget that had finally brought home the truly dreadful state of the public finances, the governing Labour Party continued to lag well behind the Conservative opposition in the opinion polls, a situation that was not changed by the developing saga of the MPs' Expense Scandal which severely dented the voters confidence in all the major political parties during the course of May. In these circumstances, the general consensus was that the results of the elections to be held on the 4th June 2009 were expected to be bad for the Labour Government. So bad in fact, that it was suggested that Brown's position as Prime Minister would be under threat. Which might have explained why Brown made an appearance on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday 31st May and emphatically stated that he would not be standing down as Prime Minister no matter what happened.
It was therefore widely expected that there would be a post-election Cabinet reshuffle, as part of yet another Government fightback come relaunch, and speculation therefore arose as to what the changes might be. Indeed on the 31st May the Sunday Times ran a story suggesting that a major part of that reshuffle would be the installation of one Ed Balls as the new Chancellor of the Exchequer. In many ways this was no surprise, as it was well known that Balls was indeed one of Brown's inner circle, as well as being his favoured successor, and there had been persistent whispers that the incumbent Chancellor Alistair Darling had developed a mind of his own. Thus making Balls Chancellor was seen as a means by which Brown could re-establish his grip on the Treasury. However the idea that Balls would take over as Chancellor was not a suggestion that was universally welcomed within the Labour Party, since Balls was seen as a "divisive figure", in the sense that a significant number of his peers both inside and outside of the Cabinet loathed him with a passion, and some Cabinet members were said to be in "open revolt" at the idea of placing Balls in charge of the Treasury.
On the Monday, 1st June the Daily Telegraph continued with its expose of MPs expenses by returning to the subject of Chancellor's Darling's expense claims, specifically that he had "double claimed" on his second homes allowance. Darling initially denied the story, but during the course of the day was forced to admit that he had indeed made a mistake with his expenses, and would be repaying the sum of £688. Having started the day saying that there was no substance to the allegation, Prime Minister Brown spent the rest of the day referring to his Chancellor in the past tense, leaving everyone with the impression that Darling's days at the Treasury were indeed numbered.
Then shortly after midday on Tuesday, the 2nd June 2009 Sky News dropped the bombshell that the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith would be leaving the Government. Now of course ministers do of course resign from time to time, and in Ms Smith's case it was expected that she would be leaving government in the upcoming reshuffle, thanks to the criticism she had attracted for her expense claims, most notably the infamous £10 claim for pay-for-view pornography, not to mention the fact that the challenges of running the Home Office appeared to be somewhat beyond her capabilities. However such resignations normally became public knowledge as a result of prepared statements, not as the result of a leak from unidentified "Whitehall sources" and most crucially were not made in the middle of an election campaign. It was therefore suggested that this news had been deliberately leaked by someone who wanted to "destabilise Gordon Brown" with the suggested culprit being named as a "friend of Hazel Blears".
Unfortunately for Brown Ms Smith's resignation turned out only to be the first in a series, and by the end of the day it became known that Tom Watson, the Cabinet Office Minister and a member of Brown's inner circle would also be leaving Government, together with Beverley Hughes, the Minister of State at the Department for Children, Schools and Families. As it was Ms Hughes also announced that she was would be leaving the Commons altogether at the next election, as did Patricia Hewitt, a former minister under Tony Blair. All three were said to have made the decision for 'family reasons', which was to say that it was nothing to do with the expenses scandal, and more likely that they'd all simply had enough of politics for the time being.
On the same day David Chaytor, the Labour member for Bury North, and one of the phantom mortgage trio, also announced that he would also be standing down from Parliament. Just as well really as that same day the Labour Party's new 'star chamber' finally got around to making some decisions, and announced that Chaytor, together with Ian Gibson, Margaret Moran and Elliot Morley were all unsuitable to receive their endorsement as Labour candidates. None of this was a particular surprise, apart from the case of Ian Gibson, whose transgression related to the fact that he had shared his 'taxpayer funded' second home with his daughter. Indeed Gibson was of the opinion that he had not been given a fair hearing by the 'Star Chamber', and that the decision to exclude him was rather a political decision. It certainly upset some in the local party, as Martin Booth, the president of the Norwich Labour Party complained that "It was not a star chamber, it was a kangaroo court." (Gibson subsequently announced that he would resign from the Commons and so triggered a by-election.)
The events of what the Times called 'Labour's resignation day' therefore set the tone for the press reports on 3rd June with headlines such as 'Cabinet meltdown as Jacqui Smith heads resignations' (Daily Telegraph), 'Ministers quit the Cabinet as Gordon Brown's authority wanes' (The Times), 'Disarray in Downing Street' (The Independent), 'Labour's day of resignation' (The Guardian), 'Rats desert sinking ship: Shamed Jacqui Smith leads ministers scrambling for the exit' (Daily Mail), and 'Meltdown For Troubled Brown After String Of Resignations' (Daily Express). 'Meltbrown' said the Daily Mirror, 'PM, jaw time's up' said The Sun, with every newspaper report being a variation on the theme of how Brown was "struggling" to "maintain his authority" in the face of an unprecedented wave of resignations. The Guardian spoke of a "collapse of morale sweeping Labour ranks" whilst the Daily Mail claimed that "Westminster was awash with rumours of plots" to install Alan Johnson as Prime Minister.
However whilst the wave of resignations might have give the distinct impression of rats abandoning a sinking maritime vessel, there had been no direct attacks on Brown himself. That changed on the morning of Wednesday 3rd June 2009, when The Guardian's editorial appeared under the headline of 'Labour's dilemma' and contained the most extraordinary and devastating critique of Brown's performance as Prime Minister. As far as The Guardian was concerned its judgement of Brown's leadership was that there had been "no vision from him, no plan, no argument for the future and no support", and that ended with the fateful words "It is time to cut him loose".
It turned out that The Guardian had its own agenda. As befitting a long standing 'liberal' newspaper it was in favour of proportional representation which it believed "would transform parliament" and wanted the Labour Party to "enter the next election having reformed parliament"; that is, decided on a scheme of proportional representation which would be put to the public in a referendum to be held at the same time as the next General Election. However the Guardian feared that if "Brown put a referendum on the ballot, it would be defeated because he backed it". As convoluted as this might have been as a rationale, the idea that Brown was so unpopular with the public that they'd vote down anything he backed, was hardly much of a consolation.
This was no doubt unsettling for Brown as he worked his way through the morning papers, but worse was to come when at precisely 10.12 am that day Sky News broke the story that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, one Hazel Blears had resigned from the cabinet, only two hours ahead of Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons.
Ms Blears made a statement which explained that she was "returning to the grassroots" in order to "help the Labour Party to reconnect with the British people"; a remark that rather implied that the connection was currently broken. However as the Daily Telegraph soon noticed, her resignation statement was "notable for the absence of any expression of backing for the Prime Minister", whilst The Times was in no doubt that she had timed her departure to "cause the maximum damage to the Prime Minister". Or as Nick Robinson of the BBC put it, her resignation was "Deliberate, calculated and with intent" and was, as one Toby Helm described it, a "giant knife in the prime minister's back". Indeed, as the sharp-eyed Daily Mail soon spotted, when Blears emerged from her office after announcing her resignation, she was sporting a brooch engraved with the words 'rocking the boat'.
In these new circumstances all the papers now re-worked their stories during the course of the 3rd June with new headlines such as 'Hazel Blears resignation deepens Gordon Brown's Cabinet crisis' (Daily Telegraph), 'Hazel Blears' resignation leaves Gordon Brown's premiership in crisis' (The Guardian), 'Blears quits as anti-Brown plot circulates' (The Times), 'Blears quits as pressure piles up on PM' (The Independent), and 'Brown on the brink' (Daily Mail). As far as Nick Robinson was concerned, by resigning Blears had "fired the starting gun on a leadership contest whose outcome is unknowable".
Naturally Prime Minister's Questions proved to be a difficult time for Brown as David Cameron told him that his "ability to command the cabinet has simply disappeared" whilst Nick Clegg joined in the fun as he told Brown that his government was in "meltdown".
The Plots Thicken
As Ms Blears was contemplating her political future Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party combined forces to table a motion calling for the dissolution of Parliament to be debated on the 10th June. As Elfyn Llwyd, the Plaid Cymru leader explained, his party believed that "the legitimacy of Parliament has long gone" whilst for the SNP Angus Robertson said that the "only way to sort this mess out is for Parliament to be dissolved and for the people to have their say in a general election". Rumours soon emerged that a letter was circulating amongst Labour backbenchers, to the effect that the signatories would not oppose the motion unless Brown resigned.
On the same day that The Guardian was telling the nation that Gordon should go, it reported that a 'Gordon must go' letter was circulating amongst the Parliamentary Labour Party. The Guardian claimed this story as an 'exclusive', although The Sun had already carried the story earlier that day. According to the Guardian this letter was not the work of "the usual suspects" and included some "surprising" names, and that some fifty MPs had already agreed to put their names to the "round robin letter", which took the form of an email address to which "sympathetic MPs" were to send an email indicating their support for a "single sentence statement that they would like Gordon Brown to stand down". Before long the text of the letter itself was revealed and read as follows;
Dear Gordon. Over the last 12 years in government, and before, you have made an enormous contribution to this country and to the Labour Party, and this is widely acknowledged.
However, we are writing now because we believe that, in the current political situation, you can best serve the Labour Party and the country by stepping down as party leader and Prime Minister and so allowing the party to find a new leader to take us into the next General Election.
This 'conspiracy' soon became known as the Hotmail Plot since Labour MPs were requested to indicate their support by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. It was said that the organisers where aiming for a target of eighty names, and it was simply a question of whether they would go live on the Friday or the Monday. By 2.19 pm that day The Guardian even had a timetable of the alleged plot, with the key date being the 9th June; "The prime minister is forced from office". It certainly seemed as if the ploy was being taken seriously in the corridors of power, as the Government Chief Whip Nick Brown went public during the early evening with a, largely inaccurate it was believed, list of those involved in the plot.
Neither was this the only conspiracy afoot, as it was also claimed that there was a Pugin Room Plot, otherwise known as the Revenge of Blair's Babes, in full swing, although the supporting evidence appeared far less clear cut.
It can be confirmed that there was indeed what was described as a "tight-knit circle" of "female Blairites", whose most prominent members included Jacqui Smith, Hazel Blears, Caroline Flint and Siobhain McDonagh, who were in the habit of arranging a weekly 'Girls' Night Out' at one of tea rooms in the Palace of Westminster. On Monday 1st June they all met at the Pugin Room (being a bar lounge at the Palace of Westminster with commanding views of the Thames that served morning coffees and afternoon teas, together with slices of House of Commons fruit cake), and it was alleged that it was at this meeting that a "female conspiracy" to destabilise the Prime Minister was hatched. Perhaps they did, or perhaps they all just sat down and talked about the weather. Nobody knew one way or the other. In any case, as one wit pointed out "If you were going to plot, the last place you would do it would be in the Pugin Room. You would pick a Midlands curry house".
Thursday, 4th June 2009 was Election Day in Britain, and Westminster was said to be rife with rumours of further ministerial resignations. The name of Caroline Flint popped up, but was immediately discounted, as she came forward to proclaim her loyalty to Brown's cause. Nevertheless during the course of the day, The Times offered the opinion that hostilities would "resume as soon as the polling booths shut" on the grounds that the rebels would then "no longer fear accusations of disloyalty".
This turned out to be an oddly prescient statement since, as soon as the polls shut at 10.00pm on the 4th June, the news emerged that James Purnell, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions had now resigned. What was more, unlike his predecessors, Purnell made it quite plain that he wanted Brown gone. Or as The Guardian headline soon read 'Go now Gordon, Purnell urges as he quits cabinet'. As Purnell explained in his resignation statement, Brown's "continued leadership" made a "Conservative victory more not less likely" and he therefore called on Brown to "stand aside" in order to give Labour a "fighting chance of winning"
A Downing Street spokesman duly announced that the Prime Minister was "disappointed by the resignation" as The Times proclaimed that 'Purnell resignation shocks Gordon Brown' which The Independent described it as a "crippling blow". John Rentoul now believed that it was "as certain as these things can be" that Brown would not lead Labour into the next election, and Matthew d'Ancona claimed that "the end has come for Gordon Brown".
At which point it might be worth mentioning that Purnell's girlfriend, Sophie Sutcliffe, was a corporate affairs executive at News International, the publishers of The Times, and so perhaps its earlier prediction was based on a certain degree of insider knowledge.
Reshuffling the Deckchairs
It had already been widely hinted that Brown intended to reshuffle his Government in the wake of the expected poor election results. It seemed most likely that Monday, 8th June was originally pencilled in as the day, once the full horrors of the results were known. However in a situation where ministers appeared to be walking out on the Government left right and centre, the reshuffle was brought forward to Friday 4th June in an effort to steady the rocking boat. Such was the level of 'excitement' at this development that the BBC News website felt obliged to provided a live blow by blow account of the reshuffle news, interspersed with bulletins from the local election battlefront.
Just after 10.20 am that day, the news came through that John Hutton, the Secretary of State for Defence, would be leaving office and standing down from the Commons. 'Gordon Brown's reshuffle in crisis as John Hutton quits' said The Guardian, but it could have been worse - Hutton's departure was said to be a "personal decision", whilst Hutton claimed that he was "absolutely committed" to supporting Brown; a significant display of support particularly since Hutton was often identified as being the minister who once predicted that Brown would be a "fucking disaster" as Prime Minister.
Hutton's resignation was indeed a surprise, and was soon followed by further surprise resignations as both Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Transport, and Paul Murphy, the Secretary of State for Wales, also announced their departure from Government. They were joined by Tony McNulty, the Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions, although that wasn't so much of a surprise, as he was 'in trouble' over his expenses. Fortunately for Brown, none of the above followed Purnell's example in calling for his own resignation.
What was soon apparent however is how little reshuffling was actually taking place. It became clear that Alistair Darling would remain as Chancellor, despite Brown's desire to have Balls occupying that post, and Darling was to be joined by a long list of ministers, such as Ed Balls, Hilary Benn, David Miliband, Jack Straw, Douglas Alexander, Shaun Woodward, Harriet Harman and Nick Brown, who would also all be staying exactly where they were. It turned out to be less of a reshuffle and more of an enforced plugging of the gaps. As the BBC's chief political correspondent James Landale explained "It's been a mini-reshuffle. Over half of the cabinet are in the same jobs. There are only six new entrants. It's not a substantial injection of new blood."
The most significant changes included Alan Johnson's promotion to the post of Home Secretary - although since the Home Office had proved to be something of a political graveyard for Labour ministers in recent years, this might have well have been seen as Brown's bestowal of the kiss of death on his main rival - whilst Andy Burnham became the new Secretary of State for Health, and Ben Bradshaw was promoted to the Cabinet as the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
Elsewhere however, there was the distinct sound of a barrel being scraped. Peter Hain returned to the Cabinet as the Secretary of State for Wales, despite only recently escaping prosecution for electoral offences on a technicality, and the new Secretary of State for Defence turned out to be someone called Bob Ainsworth, an announcement that was described by The Times a "shock promotion" in the sense of 'Bob who?' Andrew Adonis, known as the Lord Adonis, Tony Blair's former chief policy adviser was similarly dragged in to become the new Secretary of State for Transport, and it became noticeable how a number of the gaps were being filled by members of the House of Lords. Whether this was because the available talent in the Commons had run out, or simply that Brown didn't trust any of them wasn't clear. The word in Westminster was that a number of people had just said no, whilst it was said that Brown had even approached John Reid with an offer of a return to the Home Office, only for Reid to turn the offer down almost before Brown could even get his mouth open.
The big winner of the reshuffle was Peter Mandelson, the Lord Mandelson, who was rewarded with an "enhanced role" at the head of a new mega-ministry to be known as the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills which would combine his old Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, together with the title of First Secretary of State.
With the Cabinet part of the reshuffle duly over, at around 16.50 pm that day Brown appeared at a scheduled press conference to declare, "I will not waver. I will not walk away. I will get on with the job". The effect was rather spoiled when, at around 17.10 pm Caroline Flint announced that she would also quit the government. This was rather a surprise to everyone as Ms Flint had staunchly defended Brown only that previous evening. However it was generally believed that Ms Flint was expecting that her loyalty would be rewarded with a promotion, and when none was forthcoming decided to retaliate. She duly accused Brown of treating her as "female window dressing" and that he ran a "two-tier government" split between the "inner circle and the remainder of the cabinet".
Brown was therefore forced to find a Minister for Europe at very short notice, and chose one Glennys Kinnock, wife of the former Leader of the Labour Party. Mrs Kinnock was not, as it turned out a Member of Parliament, at least not of the British Parliament, although she was a member of the European Parliament at least until the formalities of the election had been completed. Not that this was a problem, as by the exercise of the royal prerogative Brown could award her a life peerage, thereby giving the Kinnocks matching his and hers peerages, and increasing the aristocratic appearance of his Government by another notch.
Gordon's Great Escape
After a relatively quiet Saturday as the media pondered Brown's chances of surviving the weekend, Sunday was dominated by the European Election results which turned out to be even worse for the Labour Party than anyone expected. Beaten everywhere except in the North-East of England, Labour even came in behind the Conservative Party in Wales and Mebyon Kernow in Cornwall. All eyes were therefore on the meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party scheduled for the 8th June, and whether the rebels would finally strike the final blow and force Brown to resign.
There Charles Clarke spoke of how Brown bore "responsibility for this state of affairs that could destroy our party" and that Brown's "style of politics was based on dishonesty, dividing lines and bullying". He was however, one of only a handful of members willing to speak against Brown, as the Prime Minister "threw himself on the mercy of his party" and promised that he would change the way in which the Government was run. "Like everyone else, I have my strengths and weaknesses. I am going to play to my strengths and address my weaknesses." he said as he promised more openness, more transparency, and a more inclusive style of Government. The ranks of the Parliamentary Labour Party "banged their desks with approval" and the coup was over. Having been supposedly at death's door on the Friday, Gordon Brown proved to be very much alive on the Monday.
The general consensus was that that the man responsible for Brown's survival was none other than his old enemy Peter Mandelson. Indeed it was said that once Purnell's bombshell exploded at 10.00 pm on the 4th June, it was Mandelson who stepped in to organise a phalanx of parliamentary aides to call ministers and demand that they publicly back Brown in return for being permitted to keep their jobs. And for all those who doubted the wisdom of supporting Brown, the argument put forward was that if were Brown to be ousted, then "no successor would be able to withstand the demands for an immediate general election, and that will destroy us for a generation". Of course there was no particular constitutional reason why any replacement for Brown would be obliged to call a General Election, any more than there was when Brown himself was crowned Leader of the Labour Party. Neither was it clear why Brown's successor would be any less able to "withstand demands" than Brown himself. Nevertheless it was an argument that apparently convinced many in the Party. As one "cabinet minister" was quoted as saying, "Gordon hangs on only because we fear an early election", whilst The Independent argued in its leading article of the 9th June that the election results had been so bad for Labour that "rebelliously-minded MPs" had been scared off the idea of dumping Brown for fear of the electoral cataclysm that might leave them all booking appointments at the local Jobcentre.
But even as Brown breathed his sigh of relief, he lost yet another minister. This time round it was Jane Kennedy, the Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. She explained that she had been asked if she "wanted to stay in government" and then told that the price an assurance that she "would be in support of Gordon Brown"; and since she was apparently unable to provide the necessary assurance, she felt obliged to announce her resignation.
And the Dust Settles
So the Hotmail Plot turned out to be the plot that never was, although it brought with it a strange sense of déjà vu, as very similar moves had been afoot only the year before, when Brown was saved by the bell, or at least the threat of imminent disaster following the collapse of Lehman Brothers on the 15th September 2008.
Once again, it seemed that the plotters' greatest weakness was the lack of any clear idea as to the identity of Brown's replacement. (Although the name of Alan Johnson was frequently mentioned as the man most likely to.) However according to Allegra Stratton, writing in the Guardian, the rebels blamed their failure on Hazel Blears for both the timing of her resignation and her decision to wear that brooch, since by resigning on the eve of the election Blears appeared to be deliberately undermining Labour's electoral chances, and so "turned people against us" as one of the conspirators put it. Ms Stratton also revealed that the rebels had abandoned the idea of the Hotmail address once its existence had become public, and rather acquired an "untraceable pay as you go mobile" and that it should therefore rather have been the "text message plot".
But whatever the form of communication utilised, when the fifteen or so hardcore rebels met at 3.00 pm on the Monday, 8th June, the number of those willing to sign up to the rebellion amounted to fifty-four, although there were a hundred or more in the undecided category. And so the rebels decided to keep their powder dry until another time. Or as one "former Cabinet minister" predicted, Brown wouldn't change and "we'll all be back here in a few weeks or months".
Writing in The Independent John Rentoul agreed and claimed that this was "Not the final curtain but a dress rehearsal" and that the rebels would "get Brown in the end", whilst in the Daily Telegraph Andrew Porter wrote that the "weakness of Gordon Brown and his government is only surpassed by the weakness of those who seek to oust him" and that Brown had simply "bought some time". Even Peter Mandelson was widely quoted as offering the view that Brown would face another challenge in the autumn.
And whilst Brown might have survived, his survival came with a price. Whilst he might have withstood the brickbats thrown his way by Blears, Purnelll and Flint, the long line of departing minsters seemed to indicate a fairly widespread disillusionment with his Government, irrespective of the protestations of loyalty made by the departed, while others claimed that Brown had effectively handed over control of the Government to Mandelson as the price for his continued occupation of Downing Street. There was a distinct sense that Brown's authority had collapsed shared by much of the media, although no verdict was perhaps so damning as that of Rachel Sylvester, writing in the Times of the 9th June, who described Brown's administration as "a government of the living dead, a zombie administration, devastated, divided and directionless", and wrote of how "Brown's personal authority" was "shot to pieces" and that he was "in office but not in power". (A reprise of the exact phrase once used to describe John Major.) Elsewhere even Polly Toynbee had now abandoned her former hero, as she now described Brown as the "greatest obstacle to recovery", and complained that the Labour Party was "gripped by delusion" and had "bottled it" in not removing him from office, whilst the ultra-loyal Daily Mirror was obliged to describe Brown as "humiliated".
Brown himself was nevertheless left to soldier on as best he could, although he would have to do so without the benefit of a long list of departed ministers, as he prepared himself for the launch of his "national plan" for Britain in which he would reveal to the nation his solutions to the crisis.
The above article is drawn from a variety of reports in the British media including BBC News, The Guardian, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Daily Express and their Sunday equivalents, as well as The Sun, Daily Mirror and the News of the World as well as sundry political blogs. See also;
- Allegra Stratton and David Hencke, Rebel Labour MPs seek signatures for 'Gordon must go' letter, The Guardian, 3 June 2009
- Allegra Stratton, Revealed: Labour rebels' timetable to unseat Gordon Brown, The Guardian, 3 June 2009
- Andrew Sparrow and Patrick Wintour, Gordon Brown seeks to shore up support as voters go to the polls, The Guardian, 4 June 2009
- Sam Coates and Suzy Jagger, Hazel Blears, the sisterhood and the plot to oust Brown, The Times June 4, 2009
- The Full Story: Brown's reshuffle 5 June 2009
- James Kirkup, Gordon Brown and the resignation 'plot that never was', Daily Telegraph, 08 Jun 2009
- Andrew Porter, Analysis: No one had the guts to oust Gordon Brown, Daily Telegraph, 08 Jun 2009
- Polly Toynbee, Dazed, gripped by delusion, the party tonight bottled it, The Guardian, 8 June 2009
- Bob Roberts and Jason Beattie, Humiliated Gordon Brown survives crisis meeting, Daily Mirror, 9/06/2009
- Francis Elliott and Sam Coates, They came to bury him, not to praise him: but Brown lives to fight another day, The Times, June 9, 2009
- Rachel Sylvester, No leader, no ideas: a party at the gates of Hell, The Times, June 9, 2009
- Andrew Porter and James Kirkup, Plot to knife Gordon Brown ends in failure amid 'bullying and smears', Daily Telegraph, 09 Jun 2009
- Allegra Stratton, Why plot to oust Gordon Brown failed, The Guardian, 10 June 2009