Donald Macintyre's Sketch: It was like watching a freaky identity swap movie - a non-Blairite in a Blairite body
There was the steely resolve, the trademark dilemma-speak and, above all, the glottal stop
Donald Macintyre writes political sketches for The Independent, having been Jerusalem correspondent since 2004, covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, as well as travelling for the paper to Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Libya and Egypt. As Political Editor and then Chief Political Commentator, he previously covered the John Major and early Tony Blair era. He has written for the Daily Express, Sunday Times, Times and Sunday Telegraph, and Sunday Correspondent. He is the author of Mandelson and the Making of New Labour (2000).
Tuesday 09 July 2013
How long it will last, no one can be sure. But the “massive” (his word, several times) changes to the Labour-union relationship announced by Ed Miliband proved the catalyst for a wholly unexpected all-round rapprochement with Tony Blair.
Blair praised Miliband. Miliband proudly referred to Blair, saying: “If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for everyone else.” And then Blair’s warm words about Miliband were described as “spot on” by, of all people, Len McCluskey.
Since the Unite leader has not only been in mano a mano combat with the present Labour leader in recent days, but is on a wing of the Labour Party that has hitherto regarded the party’s most successful election winner with about as much enthusiasm as it retains for the memory of Margaret Thatcher, this was a lot to take in in one short day. Peace had broken out in the People’s Party.
And Miliband began talking like Blair. Not all the time, but at several points during the announcement the Labour leader’s speech tunes were spookily reminiscent of his predecessor as in one of those identity-swapping movies, Vice Versa perhaps. A non-Blairite in a Blairite body!
There were the frequent sentences starting with “Look…” There was the steely resolve: “I’m absolutely determined that we are going to get these changes.” There was the trademark dilemma-speak: “You can deal with the individual issue [Falkirk and the row over candidate selection] and hope it all goes away or you can seize the moment and I’ve seized the moment.” And, above all, the glottal stop (coupled with the swallowed “I” which comes out as something like “er”) – as in “affilia-e” and “Look, er think this is qui-e a big change we’re talking about.” (Well, OK, you had to be there).
Overall, he did seem to have skilfully turned a crisis into an opportunity – another adage from the Blair playbook. No, he was at pains to say, he wanted to do more, not less, to involve trade union members in the party “the three million shopworkers, nurses, engineers, bus drivers, construction workers..." not to mention (and he didn’t) the teachers and professional/white collar types who seem to be an increasing proportion of trade unionists, not all of them fanatical Labour supporters.
What would happen, asked one of “our friends from the journalistic community” as Miliband a little archly described us to the young activists crowding the hall, if the unions refuse to allow their members to choose whether to contribute to Labour? Well – and this is a wild paraphrase – they could stuff their money. Where the funds will then come from is a question for another day.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
- 2 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
- 3 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week
Instagram of US airport security chiefs: Lipstick knives and IED training kits among items seized
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber reach almost £154,000 on eBay
Israel-Gaza crisis: Eight killed in Gaza Strip cafe while watching World Cup semi-final
Supermoon 2014: When and why will the moon look bigger and brighter this summer?
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...
competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...
£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...
£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...