5 Sep 2011

Former British PM 'ran hellish regime'

11:22 am on 5 September 2011

A former British finance minister, Alistair Darling, claims ex-prime minister Gordon Brown ran a brutal regime that backstabbed colleagues in what he described as hellish attacks.

The former chancellor's views are contained in his memoirs, Back from the Brink: 1,000 Days at Number 11, which have been serialised in the The Sunday Times newspaper.

Mr Darling says Mr Brown repeatedly undermined him by thwarting his budget plans, and tried to oust him in 2009.

In the memoirs, he says that just before the banking crash in 2008, Mr Brown was convinced the economic downturn would last only six months and was furious with him for accurately describing the outlook as the worst for 60 years.

The book described relentless pressure to produce more optimistic growth forecasts and futile attempts to persuade the prime minister to accept public spending cuts.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Darling said he was subject to "deeply unpleasant" briefings against him - assumed to have come from No 10 aides.

Mr Darling's memoirs say he was "clearly a stop gap appointment" before appointing Ed Balls - now Labour's finance spokesman.

However when Mr Brown tried to oust him in May 2009, the chancellor refused to be "trashed and sacrificed".