What is Richard Howitt doing?

We can expect a flood of books on the Labour Party’s crisis to appear in the autumn. The more thoughtful of these will draw attention to the dismal European campaign that Labour fought in 2014. We seemed almost embarrassed about Europe, scared stiff of Ukip, and tried to get through by avoiding saying anything worthwhile about the international scene.

We did badly here in the Eastern Region and elected just one MEP, when we hoped for two or even three. The one we elected, Richard Howitt, seems a decent enough fellow with a long background of Labour Party activism  Last week I received an ‘e-postcard’ from his office and assumed it would be a communication about the leadership. In fact it was a notification that he is hosting two visits to the European Parliament. For £85 (early bird price based on sharing a twin room) you not only get travel by Eurostar and a trip to the Parliament, but ‘dinner in a traditional Chinese restaurant, hosted by Richard’.

Now this seems pretty good value to me. However it does raise the question whether, at a time of existential crisis for the Party, he should spend his time on this sort of activity. Maybe he thinks the crisis is terminal and is looking to start a travel business after the next European election.

Richard has in fact declared for Yvette Cooper – though you won’t find this information from his website. If this is where he stands, given the gravity of the situation facing the Party, surely his resources would be better spent on supporting her campaign.

Fiddling with chopsticks while Rome burns?


On 21st August I will be publishing a short book:

Labour’s failure and my small part in it: a memoir for my grandchildren

It will be made available free of charge as a download on this site and my personal website http://www.martynsloman.co.uk.  I also intend to produce a Kindle edition.  The book is based on my experiences of 50 year’s activism, my despair about the current state of the Labour Party, and the steps that we need to take to regain credibility.

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