Last week I enjoyed a short holiday abroad and it was reassuring to find that few things had changed in my absence. Our top order batsman continued to collapse under aggressive Australian fast-bowling and my inbox was full of fatuous e-mails from our Leadership and Deputy Candidates. The latest is from Caroline Flint. This one is headed ‘Auditions for Labour’s Got Talent’
Caroline Flint, like Stella Creasy (see my previous blog below), comes highly recommended. Undoubtedly she herself has got talent but hardly demonstrates it in this communication. In her third sentence she tells me that ‘Today I want you to be the first to see my plan to get our party back to winning ways’. Really? I do not believe that an election agent in an obscure unwinnable constituency, whom she has never met, would be her choice to be the first to see her plans. I would hope that, by this stage in her career, she has identified some trusted advisers whose independent and critical judgement she can trust and would have run her ideas passed them.
Her declared ambition is to get the party back to winning ways. Amen to that from us all. To achieve it she is proposing a 650 seat strategy. I have no idea what she means and suspect that neither does she. North Norfolk is unwinnable given the change in demographics with the disappearance of the agricultural workers’ vote and an influx of older retired professionals. Under an outstanding candidate we did well in the general election but could not elect a single district councillor – despite considerable efforts and good organisation in our two target seats. What would make the difference is the development and articulation of thoughtful policies to promote social justice to deal with the real deprivation that is a feature of even the most superficially prosperous areas. This, not vacuous one-liners, is what we need.
This brings me to the final point. In her e-mail Caroline Flint assures me that she wants, and I quote, ‘More candidates who look like us’. Note that the chosen phrase is ‘look like us’ not ‘like us’. Caroline Flint is an attractive dark-haired woman who courted some controversy when she appeared in a glamorous photo-shoot in the Observer magazine in 2009. I am a rather overweight grey-bearded man in my late 60s. We do not look alike.
For heaven’s sake, Caroline, raise your game and give us some serious thoughts on the future direction of the Party. I’m sure you care and are capable of much better than this.