Diary: Penniless Labour decides that cuts must start at home

Under Tony Blair, the Labour Party used to attract the backing of people who could afford to donate the odd £1m without noticing it had gone off their accounts. Those billionaire backers have gone away. There is a plan being worked on in the party's new headquarters to effect a large increase in the number of small donors, but they are not coming fast enough to keep the party in the black. Costs exceeded income by £1.7m last year.

In Tony Blair's day a gap like that could be bridged simply by asking the ever-generous Lord Sainsbury to get his chequebook out, but he stopped giving when Ed Miliband defeated his brother in the 2010 leadership election. So yesterday Iain McNicol, the party's general secretary, sent an email to staff seeking volunteers for redundancy. It included this strange non sequitur: "If we are to show people we are serious about cutting the debts of the country then we must also cut the debts of the Labour Party." The party is saying they want to shed only "a handful" of staff from a complement of around 300.

Raking it in on the council

Serving on a local council generally means surrendering a great deal of time for minimal reward, but for Sara Cliff, a Conservative councillor, the reward for public service has been bountiful. Between June 2009 and January 2012, she turned up at 19 out of 52 meetings of Lincolnshire County Council, and claimed £23,000 in councillors' allowances. That is more than £1,200 per meeting. The ward she represents, Lincoln East, is one of the most deprived in the county.

The reason for her scant attendances is doubtless the time it takes to travel, because soon after she was elected in 2009 she took up a post as a Methodist minister in Soham, in Cambridgeshire, 119 miles from county hall. Martin Hill, Tory leader of the county council, told the Lincolnshire Echo that Ms Cliff's attendance record was "not good at all". Comments from the Labour side were less restrained.

Farewell to honest Lord Archer

I was sorry to learn yesterday of the death of the amiable Lord Archer of Sandwell because I was one of the few who knew that there was a peer of that name. There is not much to be said of him except that he was an honest, competent Labour Solicitor General, who for 20 years had been confused with that other Lord Archer, whose first name is Jeffrey, who was not Labour and who, on one notorious occasion, was not honest.

Inside the mind of Chris Mullin

The most entertaining set of political diaries to emerge from the Tony Blair era was written by Chris Mullin, former Labour MP for Sunderland South. This is not because they tell you anything about the pinnacles of political power, which Mullin never reached. The dairies describe the frustrations of being alternately a prominent backbench MP and an obscure junior minister struggling to make a difference.

Michael Chaplin, a northern playwright, turned the memoirs into a stage play, which attracted rave reviews at its first production, in Newcastle last May. It is now heading south to open this month in London's Soho Theatre, with John Hodgkinson again in the lead role.

At 6ft 4in, Hodgkinson is too big to be mistaken for Mullin, which could be a problem on stage, because what makes the diaries delightful are the many examples of Mullin being outmanoeuvred or taken for granted by people with more of an appetite for power, so it would not do for the person playing him to tower over everyone else. But those who saw the Newcastle production say Hodgkinson does a pretty good job of hunching himself up in a Mullin-ish sort of way.

"It's delightful to be inside the mind of Chris Mullin," he told me. "I love and admire him. I was a fan of his before this play was thought about, having read his diaries. I'm pleased to say he's every bit as delightful as he comes across in the books."

"I attempt to do a vague physical impersonation of him, but it wouldn't fool anybody. He is very much a small man in a world of big beasts, like John Prescott and Gordon Brown. There is intense frustration in the play, which comes across in self-deprecating humour."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore