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BEECHAM BACKS BLAIR REVOLUTION GROUP

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Sir Jeremy Beecham is one of the prime movers behind a new pressure group pushing Tony Blair's continuous revolutio...
Sir Jeremy Beecham is one of the prime movers behind a new pressure group pushing Tony Blair's continuous revolution in the Labour Party.

The Association of Metropolitan Authorities chairman is one of the patrons of the Progress Advisory Group, established to 'explain party policy and the leadership's position'.

The plans for the group were revealed in private papers leaked to the left-wing newspaper Tribune.

It has been established by Derek Draper, arch party 'moderniser' and researcher to Peter Mandelson, one of Mr Blair's closest aides.

The leaked papers invited recipients to a meeting in August, but warned them: 'Because of the mischievous nature of the press (and some on our own side!) please look after these papers carefully.'

The group said 'it would never contradict the leadership's position or aim to set the policy agenda'.

Paul Richards, press officer at the Association of County Councils, is another local government face involved in the group. Mr Richards is active in the Labour Co-ordinating Committee, a once left-wing group which is now firmly on the right of the party.

- Labour's front-bench local government team is considering government control of councillors' allowances.

Shadow environment secretary Frank Dobson and Mr Blair have criticised several Labour authorities for allowances increases voted through since ministers lifted restrictions on them in January.

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