Beckett duped by ‘Chancellor’ Rory Bremner

#1
Apologies if posted elsewhere.
here
Sunday Times said:
February 25, 2007

Beckett duped by ‘Chancellor’ Rory Bremner
Richard Brooks, Arts Editor
Click here to read transcript

THE impressionist Rory Bremner fooled Margaret Beckett, the foreign secretary, into thinking he was Gordon Brown in a spoof call that led her to make embarrassing comments about senior colleagues.

In a taped conversation lasting more than four minutes, Beckett seemed to be taken in by Bremner’s mimicry and discussed with “Brown” details of a forthcoming cabinet reshuffle.

The tape, heard by The Sunday Times, was made in 2005 but, for legal reasons, has never been aired. In the conversation Beckett said or implied that:

The empire of John Prescott, the deputy prime minister, was ineffective and should be broken up;

Patricia Hewitt, then trade and industry secretary, was “out of her depth”; Alan Milburn couldn’t “hack it” as party chairman; Stephen Byers, the former minister, was a “bit of a risk”.

Vera, the production company that makes Bremner’s television programmes, has kept the tape locked in a safe in its office since it was recorded.

Yesterday Bremner admitted he had made the call and said: “I’d really love to broadcast it.”

It was the day before the 2005 election when he picked up the phone, put on his best Brown voice and called Beckett. As one of Labour’s longest-serving cabinet ministers, she knew the chancellor, his voice and vocal tics well; but she appeared to have no idea the man on the end of the line was not him.

The conversation begins with Bremner saying: “Hi, Margaret? Hi, it’s Gordon.”

Beckett, then secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, replies: “All right Gordon, what can I do for you?”

“Brown” softens her up with some general talk about how election canvassing is going.

He then asks Beckett if she had “spoken to Tony about next week”.

He makes it clear that he is talking about Blair’s cabinet reshuffle after the expected election victory: “He’s going to get Alan [Milburn] back in and Stephen [Byers], and I don’t know how you feel about that.”

Both Milburn and Byers are Blairites and Beckett’s response to “Brown” displays a politician’s talent for toadying and back-stabbing at the same time.

She replies: “Being perfectly honest, Gordon, and I wouldn’t say this to anyone else, I mean I think Stephen’s a bit of a risk at the moment . . .”

Later she says of Milburn, who had been made chairman of the party and put in charge of the election campaign: “I haven’t really felt he’s hacked it as chairman. I don’t know what you feel, but I felt . . . I think it just didn’t work.” It is clear that Beckett believed that the chancellor, even two years ago, had a powerful say in choosing the cabinet. As the taped conversation progresses, she talks herself up in the hope of staying in her current ministerial job.

“I would be happy to stay where I am, not least because, I mean, we are right in the middle of the sugar negotiations, which everybody is expecting me to chair . . .” she says. “There’s a huge amount coming up in the next six months or so, which, you know, as I say, all the rest of Europe is sort of confidently looking and saying literally, you know, we’re leaving that to Margaret.”

Last year Beckett, to the surprise of many, was made foreign secretary; she is reputed to have responded to the news with the words “Oh f***”.

On the tape “Brown” then asks Beckett where she thinks there are weaknesses in the cabinet. “Well, I’m just mentally running over in my mind,” she replies. “I don’t know where he’s [Blair] going to put David [Blun-kett, who had lost his post as home secretary five months ear-lier]. I mean, a lot depends on how much John [Prescott] wants to hang on to.”

Beckett gently slides the knife into Prescott, whose sprawling department — grandly entitled office of the deputy prime minister — was largely seen as ineffectual. Beckett continues: “I mean you could create something useful without taking everything away from John. You could do something a bit different with that as a portfolio.”

For good measure she has a dig at another colleague, adding: “You know, DTI [Department for Trade and Industry] is always, well . . . No disrespect to Patricia [Hewitt], but DTI is always a bit of a handful.”

“Brown” then interjects: “I think she’s a bit out of her depth there actually.” Beckett responds: “Yeah. That’s what a lot of other people say to me.”

They then move on to discuss Charles Clarke, then home secretary. Beckett says that she assumes “the two of you [Blair and Brown] will want to leave him where he is. If you move him it would look like very much of a repudiation.” Clarke had been in the post only a few months.

When the conversation draws to a close, “Brown” says: “Okay, okay, I’m going to have to go, if you want to call me I’ll be in North Queensferry tonight.”

Beckett replies: “Well if you want me, you know where I am. Nice to talk to you, Gordon.”

The duping of a cabinet minister and disclosure of the tape are likely to add to tensions between the government and Channel 4, which is under review by Ofcom, the regulator.

In a statement last night Beckett said: “I have never given my phone number to Rory Bremner, nor knowingly had such a conversation with him.

“I have no recollection of a conversation in the terms that are being suggested. If he has done as he suggests, it is both an unprincipled and unpleasant breach of privacy.”

Bremner admitted he had also impersonated Brown while phoning Peter Hain, now Northern Ire-land secretary. “But I’m pretty sure he worked out very quickly that something was up,” said Bremner, whose latest series begins next Saturday on C4. “So I put the phone down.”

When John Major was prime minister in the mid1990s, Bremner also tried to dupe three Tory MPs. Michael Grade, then chief executive of C4, got to hear about it and the recordings were never aired.

Bremner defended phoning Beckett. “It was a case of what I like to call ‘extreme research’,” he said. Geoff Atkinson, who produces Bremner, Bird and Fortune, said: “It was Rory road-testing Gordon.” Bremner’s new series could see the last time that he impersonates Blair. “We seem to have entered an era of grim, machine-like politicians such as [pensions minister] John Hutton,” he said.

And what of David Cameron, the Tory leader?

“He’s Blair, but with Peter Man-delson’s accent,” said Bremner.

Great hoaxes of our time

In the 1996 series Brass Eye, Chris Morris, the satirist, conned David Amess, the Tory MP, into asking in parliament about a fictional drug called “cake”

Victor Lewis-Smith, a journalist, spoke to Diana, Princess of Wales for half an hour in 1996, using a computerised voice to give the impression that he was Professor Stephen Hawking, the Cambridge physicist

In 1998, Tony Blair rumbled Jon Culshaw, an impressionist who phoned Downing Street pretending to be William Hague, but addressed Blair as “Tony”. Hague always used the formal “prime minister”
... nice to see the labourati getting on so well together?
 
#2
Ugly AND stupid.

She really hasn't got much going for her.
 
#4
If the UK gobment really wants to get serious about illegal immigrants, all they have to do is post huge piccies of Beckett and Widdecombe at the ports of entrance. That'll put the fückin' shites up 'em!

Mind you, I'd love to hear all of the conversation mentioned. I hope it gets aired at some time.

MsG
 
#5
This should help her credibility on the world stage.

Then.
 

Nehustan

On ROPS
On ROPs
#6
In the 1996 series Brass Eye, Chris Morris, the satirist, conned David Amess, the Tory MP, into asking in parliament about a fictional drug called “cake”
I have a friend from Notting Hill that loved this. Morris was seen to walk up and down the 'front-line' in Ladbroke grove trying to 'score' cake, much to the annoyance of the dealers who wanted to sell him crack and how no idea what cake was...classic TV.
 
#8
Sunday Times said:
Last year Beckett, to the surprise of many, was made foreign secretary; she is reputed to have responded to the news with the words “Oh f***”.
Never thought I'd agree with anything Horseface came out with but I've just been proved wrong. :shock:
 
#9
Margaret Beckett's appointment as foreign Secretary simultaneously put British diplomacy and the campaign for female equality back fifty years.

She could not be stupider if they scooped out her brain and replaced it with that of a recently cryogenically frozen cocker spaniel. She is stupid and obtuse, obstinate and unyielding then weak and malleable by turns.

If I had drawn Ms Beckett in a sweep to see who was the duped cabinet minister, then I would have punched the air, silently mouthed "Back of the net" and started planning on spending my winnings.

Everytime I see a Range Rover drawn caravan in an accident I am secretly hopeful...
 

Nehustan

On ROPS
On ROPs
#10
Cuddles said:
Margaret Beckett's appointment as foreign Secretary simultaneously put British diplomacy and the campaign for female equality back fifty years.

She could not be stupider if they scooped out her brain and replaced it with that of a recently cryogenically frozen cocker spaniel. She is stupid and obtuse, obstinate and unyielding then weak and malleable by turns.

If I had drawn Ms Beckett in a sweep to see who was the duped cabinet minister, then I would have punched the air, silently mouthed "Back of the net" and started planning on spending my winnings.

Everytime I see a Range Rover drawn caravan in an accident I am secretly hopeful...
Well hopefully if she's that daft, the FO can undo some of the damage done to international status since '97, without her noticing a thing. Considering that some of the people tasked with 'watching' are about as bright as a dull penny it bodes well, they are so easily duped by slight of hand they can't see what goes on right under their nose. Long live the branch of the arts known as illusion :thumleft:
 
#11
I resent the spaniel remark, as my little feller would run rings around any cabinet minister on the devious, conniving and calculating front. In fact, he'd be the perfect politician - and all for a little belly tickle now and then.

Beckett? Mong.

Margaret Beckett
 

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