Just a few days ago you might have thought that Labour was willing and able to leave its past behind. The drubbing at the general election hurt them but, looking on the bright side, it got rid of Gordon Brown. Labour's recent past is riddled with problems stemming from the Blair/Brown feud. The wishful thinkers in Labour's membership would have hoped that the new leader could have shut the door on this period and the party move on but as we have said before Labour loves a fight, any fight. So it was foolish to imagine this could happen and not to see the trouble brewing during the leadership contest. While Brown appears to have no shame, subtlety or remorse about him after his and the party's defeat, he did at least show he can pick a winner, he anointed Ed - more on this below. Blair went all lofty as usual and spoke, publicly, only about Blairism, no doubt aiming to keep his 'legacy' pure; while Alan Johnson and Peter Mandelson, like other 'heavyweights', publicly supported David Miliband. But as Ed Miliband won it has shut the door on them instead!
We wrote about one aspect of the Labour leadership battle here, suggesting it was about to get interesting. About time too! Several Labour people, David Blunkett for example, have admitted that it was a dull thing. It was wrong to imagine that anyone other than the political anoraks of the left would welcome such a long drawn out stunt. No doubt there will be a lot of thought as to what the result might have been had a more compact time frame been in place. In particular, did this mad marathon help the trade unions dominate the whole thing? It's about to become interesting as Ed Miliband has won the leadership battle and has done so with help from the trade unions. This contest and its outcome must be seen alongside the other winner, Ken Livingstone, now the Labour party's official candidate for the Mayor of London elections. These will be held in 2012. So the result, like the campaign, will watched by those looking for indicators as to how the general election, scheduled for 2015, might turn out.
It now gets interesting. The ballot for the Labour party leadership race has closed. It is assumed a Miliband will win and some excited people have already suggested they know the outcome and declared in favour of the elder. Also assumed is that the new leader will embark on a period of modernisation. A safe bet there as they all do that! So how do the bookies read this contest ? Well, the elder Miliband is the favourite but at 150/1 is Diane Abbott. And as all the other candidates are boring white men let's do a little positive discrimination and focus on Abbott.
This might seem to miss the point but remember it was Greg Dyke in 2001 when working as Director General of the BBC who described the corporation as "hideously white". The BBC pays Abbott a huge sum of money for her 'work', some say £36,000 a year for her slot on Andrew Neil's The Daily Politics show, which began in 2003. Whilst she is not the bookies' favourite, she rings all the bells at the BBC.
It's been wall-to-wall Clegg, as for the LibDems, their time has come. But Nick Clegg and his party should be careful. Not so long ago Peter Mandelson dominated the media. In this case the exposure for Mandy did not always benefit Labour, as a result many in the Labour Party became resentful. He never did anything for the greater good and the party faithful knew it.Tony Blair may have insisted that his party "learn to love" Mandy, but to no avail and now they are both loathed by the party faithful and country alike. It's the LibDem conference in Liverpool but this explains only some of the publicity for Clegg. For the man and his party are being given the long hard look; are there problems ahead? Probably yes.
The basis of the News of the World/Andy Coulson story is that the newspaper hacked into mobile phone traffic and this is illegal. Also we can assume that the people who had their phones hacked wished the data to remain private. Ignoring the, 'did-he-know' question hovering over Coulson, that he works for David Cameron plus that the NotW is owned by Murdoch and that all of these things are bound to inflame passions on the left, we could describe this activity as spying. But the state would rather we did not. For they spy all the time on us and upon what they would like us to think of as threats to our way of life. But in reality they see us as a threat to their way of life and it's this that they use to justify their actions. And if the state can spy why not newspapers? After all the former likes to use the latter, but only on its terms. But we are also told a free press is essential to our way of life, so the definition might include free to spy.
There's nothing like choice. If you like sport, cricket in particular, then the ongoing story of corruption in the game is for you. If you remember Alistair Campbell then the wall-to-wall coverage of the Andy Coulson story will be worth a look. It's a fact that when it comes to the big heavy Sunday papers most people throw the business and financial section away. But within these pages can be found some real horror stories. It was here that the possibility of the recession was first reported long before we had stories and pictures on the front page of Gordon Brown saving the financial world. But the real iceberg story is anything to do with Islam. For years now sensible people with a mind to do a little research have understood that WYSIWYG does not apply here. What you see, what you get and how to deal with it confounds more than a few. Prince Charles has told us he thinks Islam is a "peaceful religion" and, following the London 7/7 bombings Sir Ian Blair as head of the Metropolitan Police claimed they had "nothing to do with Islam". With fools like these what next? The wake up has been slow but has started. Ed West notes -
The ultimate origins of the anti-religion movement go back further, to two events in 1989: the Rushdie affair and the fall of the Berlin Wall. As a result of the latter, which coincided with the discrediting of democratic socialism in the West, the political Left scattered into different tribes.
You could, if you had a mind to, pity the Labour party. For that's what it has become, the prefix has been dropped, so no more 'New' Labour or Nulabour. It's back to where it was all those years ago. Either through shame or a desire to try something new the party changed its name following the 'Wilderness' period of 1979 to 1997. So within the lifetime of many voters we've had the pre-prefix, prefix and post-prefix years. I know many of these voters can't tell one phase from the other! We now see that the 18 years from 1979 onwards were started then maintained by an internal party feud. So history repeats itself and most voters who lived through the period can't describe the factions involved or the arguments of those days either; and can you tell one Miliband from the other today?
Have you ever had such laugh? The battle for the leadership of Nulabour, can it get any worse? Not so long ago Nulabour had convinced itself, and crucially, the Westminster village, that it was the finest political machine ever made. Now it looks, and performs, like a rusty wreck, if it were a car it would be traded in for a new model. Just as the Peter Mandelson scheme for trading old cars for new was supposed to help UK industry, but did not, the point of the leadership battle , it's hardly a beauty contest, was to stimulate the party, to make it better and renew it, but it won't. And we have none other than Polly Toynbee to tell us it's all gone wrong. But should we take her word for it? As in her case not so long ago she sang the praises of Nulabour, in its entirety, for all to hear. But now it's different, Toynbee calls the likes of Blair and Mandelson "yesteryear headline addicts". This is hard to take seriously from Toynbee, or her newspaper.