LORD Ashdown has accused the Labour Party of playing politics with his feet after he was offered a vigorous massage by Gordon Brown.
The former Liberal Democrat leader said he met the Prime Minister-elect last week to talk about areas of mutual interest, but that Brown wasted no time in offering him a seat in his cabinet.
Ashdown said: "I told him that his offer of the job of Northern Ireland Secretary was inappropriate. He then asked if there was anything he could do to persuade me.
"I joked that my feet were sore and he was most welcome to give them a rub. To my surprise he made it clear that if I wanted a foot rub then Douglas Alexander would be happy to oblige.
"I then noticed Douglas Alexander standing by the door holding a bottle of E45 and offering me what I can only assume was a reassuring smile."
He added: "The Chancellor told me that he was serious about creating a new type of politics in Britain and said that senior figures from different parties should not be afraid to touch each other."
Ashdown said he thanked Brown but was unable to accept a foot rub or any other kind of therapeutic physical contact without the permission of Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell. He then left the meeting.
Alan Johnston, front-runner for the Labour deputy leadership said: "I agree that we should be able to touch people in other parties but I think there are plenty of talented Labour MPs who deserve to be touched first."