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A tale of two letters

Nick Robinson | 12:56 UK time, Thursday, 4 June 2009

Hazel Blears wrote two letters to the prime minister yesterday. The second she wrote having watched Prime Minister's Questions in her Commons office. It was a handwritten thank you for the way he had spoken about her contribution to government.

If, instead of condemning her repeatedly, he'd said anything like it in recent weeks she might never have resigned as she did yesterday.

Gordon Brown and Hazel Blears

It is telling to compare her actions with that of Jacqui Smith. The home secretary rushed to endorse Gordon Brown yesterday. When she faced embarrassment, humiliation and condemnation over her expenses claims the prime minister had been understanding in public and consoling in private.

This episode may form another chapter in the book I may write one day entitled "How the small snub made history".

The other chapters include the tale of how Peter Mandelson was forced out of Tony Blair's cabinet after failing to invite to his flatwarming party the man who'd funded his mortgage and how Jeffrey Archer ended up in prison after humiliating a friend at a party who knew he'd lied in court.

Many others have been or may be about to be snubbed by the prime minister.

Top of the list is Alistair Darling who's faced constant interference at the Treasury and was rewarded with precious little public support when he faced questions about his expenses. He is, friends say, ready to leave the cabinet rather than move jobs.

Other ministers fear that their private financial data - which Cabinet Office officials are combing through - is being deployed to damage them by Gordon Brown's allies.

Angry though many are with Hazel Blears, few like the style of politics which leads some close to the PM to put it about that "she's cracking up".

The prime minster may soon discover that being nice about someone after they've resigned from your government is leaving things much much too late.

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