I first heard the rumours when I was politically active nearly two decades ago. There had been a meal at Granita. In attendance two prominent Labour politicians determining the future of the Labour party. All was well until the final refreshments. Offered alongside the teas and coffees were biscuits, a selection of cakes, some nice chocolates, and after dinner mints. Gordon Brown, mindful of his figure, passed, settling for his hot beverage. Tony Blair asked for a cake, and with one word triggered a dispute that continued throughout his tenure and ultimately prematurely ended his premiership. Blair asked for a “scone”. Brown was disgusted but said nothing. “scone,” he thought. “scone!” He sighed. “He can’t even pronounce “scone” properly with his “ooh, look at me I want a “scone””. While agreeing that Blair would stand without opposition from Brown for the Labour leadership, the resentment that a man who couldn’t even say “scone” properly remained festering in Brown. It culminated in the astonishing revelations in today’s Daily Telegraph that Blair and Brown really did not get on, and Brown wanted to become Prime Minister. Only a few of us were aware of this during the Blair premiership – most assuming that Blair and Brown were best friends who spent family evenings out and went off to the football and opera together. However, some of us knew the truth. This will fully emerge when the memos annotated by Ed Balls, circling the word “scone” with comments such as “he’s so stupid he can’t even say this properly” and “ooh mr lah-de-dah gunner Blair and his give me a scone” are published by the Telegraph later this weekend.
Meantime though I have been quizzing pivotal figures to confirm the story.
I asked “.@tonyblairoffice Will you respond to rumours that the split with Gordon Brown arose due to a disagreement over pronunciation of “scone”?”
I then contacted two senior journalists. My query to Andrew Neil was
“.@afneil Is it true that the Brown-Blair rivalry came to a head over a dispute about the pronunciation of the word “scone”?”
And I then asked the man privy to information from most of the key protagonists, Andrew Rawnsley – who first hinted at the scone debacle.
“.@andrewrawnsley Can you confirm the rumours that the Brown-Blair split stemmed from a dispute about the pronunciation of the word “scone”?”
Ultimately, mindful that I was sitting on the exclusive of the year I tried to get a view from principal author of the Daily Telegraph stories, Benedict Brogan.
I think the silence of each speaks volumes.
But at last now the truth can be told. I only hope that by beating the Telegraph into print on this that I can restore belief in the integrity of investigative journalism by scone-obessessed monomaniacs.