James Forsyth invites you to submit nominations for the Spectator Readers’ Representative in our Parliamentarian of the Year Awards‘MP in Public Service Shock. Politician found to be honest and hard-working. Wife standing by him.’ As the MPs expenses scandal dominated the front pages for month after month, one half expected to see a headline like this. The reputation of MPs dropped further and further with every revelation about claims for duck houses, moat cleaning and phantom mortgage payments.
We need to guard against childish gloating when we read about the arrest of Patricia Hewitt’s son for possessing cocaine, says Rod Liddle. But first, a quick recap of her recordThere is something rotten with this country when people can take such base, spiteful pleasure from the arrest of a young lad simply because his mum was a former government minister and architect of New Labour. The sins of the father should not be visited upon the child; the sins of the child should not be used as a whip with which to beat the parents simply because, unaccountably, some people don’t like them.
Last week, snorkelling into a small bay on Chatham Island (San Cristobal), I looked up from watching a sea lion twist and turn underwater between a novelist and a neuroscientist to see a large man dressed in an incongruous overcoat standing with his back to us on a rocky outcrop. I wiped my goggles and realised I was looking at a statue. Of Darwin, naturally. Lots of other people visited these islands — Herman Melville, for one — and Darwin was just the captain’s companion on a small naval survey vessel, but it is Darwin everybody remembers.
Alistair Darling talks to Fraser Nelson about the importance of telling the truth, why Labour’s cuts are ‘kinder’, and the disheartening trudge between Number 11 and the CommonsIs Scottish black pudding made from the blood of pig or sheep? Alistair Darling insists it’s sheep. ‘I don’t have any in at the moment, I’m afraid,’ he says, almost apologetically. But he gives me the name of the butcher in his beloved Isle of Lewis — Charley Barley — from whom he orders his supplies.
Irving Kristol didn’t coin the term ‘neoconservative’ but he was the first person to run with it. Although it was originally intended as an insult towards those alleged to have abandoned their initial ‘liberalism’, Kristol wasn’t bothered with quibbling. ‘It usually makes no sense... to argue over nomenclature,’ he once said. ‘If you can, you take what people call you and run with it.’ Besides, ‘having been named Irving, I am relatively indifferent to baptismal caprice’.
As leadership hopefuls go, Ed Balls is not the most obvious candidate to win hearts and minds. A divisive figure behind the scenes and a stilted performer in front of the camera, he has — to put it politely — not always exhibited the qualities most closely associated with future prime ministers. But his reputation as a strategist is legendary, which is probably why there was a frisson of excitement last week when he made a foray into the Labour leadership debate by expressing a sudden enthusiasm for spending cuts.
No one in the Labour party now believes the next election is winnable. Last year, there were a few who believed in an outside chance of victory. There are still some who hope that some unexpected catastrophe might yet befall David Cameron. There will be a collective brave face put on by delegates who gather in Brighton next week — but this falls well short of genuine conviction. There is a difference between loyalty and delusion.
To: Peter Mandelson
From: Daniel Finkelstein
Re: What Labour should do nowI was, naturally, flattered to be informed that you would like me to provide you with a memo of advice on how Labour should cope with its predicament. As I explained to your assistant, I do not have much of a history of helping out the leadership of the Labour party. He said that this did not matter, as neither did the Prime Minister.
Here at The Spectator, we take no pleasure in the misfortunes of others.
Here at The Spectator, we take no pleasure in the misfortunes of others. Watching a once great political party flounder in this undignified manner is almost as painful to us as it must be to them. So in the spirit of comradely concern, we asked some of the country’s brightest minds to come up with one idea each to help Labour get back on its feet.