Friends of a Cabinet minister today struggled to recall on whose behalf they were purporting to brief. The unnamed sources said that they were close confidants of a senior Labour figure who has been mentioned in connection with the party leadership.
One of the friends said that the minister, whoever he or she was, was keen to be seen not to rock the boat, but wasn’t ruling out making an on-the-record statement in the event of further speculation. Speaking on condition of anonymity and incoherence, the source said that the minister felt that his or her time “may well be about to come, unless it doesn’t”.
Another friend remarked that the minister thought the government’s situation was “almost worthy of comment”, but when pressed could not confirm which minister this was. “I have a lot of friends, it’s sometime hard to remember who’s said what, you know. Especially when so many of us don’t have names.”
The first source added: “Yes, I think it was at a barbecue and we’d all had a bit to drink. But they definitely said that. Or something like it.” The second ministerial friend then turned and said: “Well, you were over on the other side of the garden, looking after the kids – what would you know?” “Actually, I hate to say this, but I’m not sure you’re even that good a friend of whichever one of them it is,” the first replied. “I didn’t see you at the new year’s eve party.”
Both could agree, though, that they were not friends of Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly. “Can’t bloody stand her,” they said. “And you can quote us on that.”