Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Rescuing Labour

I'd never bet on anyone describing John Prescott as the saviour of the party, but Roy Hattersley has a point.

The Labour Party - perhaps more specifically Tony Blair - is on the verge of squandering an opportunity to make a real difference to the economic and social structure of this country. We have the political power to make genuinely radical changes - not ones that merely take the ground from the Tories and try to clothe it in a smart New Labour suit.

Of greater concern to me, as a grassroots operator, is the loss of members. For the few that go out in a blaze of vitriolic glory attacking the rightward shift of the party, there are many more who just let their subscriptions lapse and never renew. We are at risk of letting the party go to seed and that would be a terrible legacy for everybody in this country.

Another interesting article from the Guardian today, from the editors of Renewal.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Ronald Reagan hits out at Bush

No, not some psychic revelation, but an interesting piece from the deceased's son.

Anatomy of a Scare

Last week, the Democratic convention ended with John Kerry 'reporting for duty' as the party's candidate for the 2004 election.

Sunday, the US raised the state of alert because of threats to financial institutions in New York and Washington and Monday saw people going to work with heavily armed police officers providing very visible security.

It seems that this stemmed from an arrest in Pakistan of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani and the inspection of his laptop computer, which contained detailed information on surveillance on financial institutions in the US.

Now it transpires that the information was gathered four years ago. It also seems that the information may have been gleaned from open sources and although the file on the computer was opened in January this year, no changes were made to the data.

That was apparently thought worthy of an immediate alert.

Even if it was a genuine desire to protect the nation, it looks like political opportunism of the worst kind. And we all know that perception often matters more than reality

Monkey Hanging

It looks like being a long hot summer in Hartlepool and Guacamoleville will be there to guide you through it. The by-election has been caused by Peter Mandelson's departure for a position as an EU Commissioner in Brussels.

Peter is a very controversial figure in the party - either you admire him for standing by Neil Kinnock during the 1980s and helping to turn the party into an electable force again, or you loath him for his self-publicity and errors of judgement. There seems to be no middle ground on this, so there's room for me to occupy it.

I have a sneaking admiration for Mandy. He may be the Prince of Darkness (I suspect this is an image he has encouraged in the past), but sometimes, all political parties need people prepared to get their hands dirty. He's certainly made some high-profile enemies and has also made some very high-profile mistakes. Those mistakes embarrassed the party and the PM - although you do wonder how much attacks on Peter are really veiled attacks on the PM.

Was there anyone better than Peter to wade into the labyrinthine politics of Northern Ireland? He could have been an NI politician in a different life.

Incidentally, the Guacamoleville name comes from a (probably apocryphal) incident when Peter and his team went into a Hartlepool fish and chip shop, ordered from the extensive menu of deep-fried marine life and then Peter asked for some of the guacamole dip. For those of you not used to this aspect of British culinary life, fish and chip shops sell basic, down-to-earth food. The staff then had to explain to Peter that the green stuff was in fact mushy peas.

Whatever happens, I don't think that this will be the last we will hear of Mandy.