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.
- 1 This restaurant has misunderstood the concept of 'cheese and biscuits'
- 2 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
Spiritual leader allegedly manipulated 400 men into removing testicles to be 'closer to God'
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
'This is what Islam tells us to do': A rare glimpse inside a Saudi Arabian prison – where Isis terrorists are showered with perks and privileges
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This precious metal refining co...
£20000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Conveyancing Fee Earne...
£40000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...