Labour on roll as campaign comes up roses

Patricia Wynn Davies reports on the launch of `the biggest political education initiative ever undertaken'

John Prescott, Labour's deputy leader, pledged to banish the boredom and inject some fun into politics as he launched the party's nationwide "Rolling Rose" campaign at an upmarket Thames-side leisure complex yesterday.

There were jokes from the actor Richard Wilson, music from a specially commissioned campaign rock band, the Rolling Roses, a boat laid on to transport journalists and Shadow Cabinet members downriver - and a serious message too.

Tony Blair, the Labour leader, said the eight-month initiative, inspired by Mr Prescott, was the biggest political education campaign undertaken by a modern party, as well as a huge membership drive.

"The campaign is an immensely important innovation for Labour," Mr Blair said from a makeshift podium at Hays Galleria, a former wharf near Tower Bridge. "It will strengthen that bond of trust [with the British people]. We are reaching out to the people through it. We are taking our message to them. And we are listening too to what they say, so as to better inform what we say on their behalf in Parliament."

Joviality seemed more in the ascendant during the Daily Mirror-sponsored production yesterday. "Under Old Labour it would have been raining," declared Frank Dobson, the party's environment spokesman, from the leisure-craft Suerita as the morning sunshine bounced off the Thames. There were jokes about going with the tide - and all out to sea.

The red-rosed Shadow Cabinet members who lined up on a platform above the Rolling Rose trailer looked like so many dancing girls. But Labour appears to have paid attention to the details. The Rolling Roses line- up includes two female vocalists as well as a more middle-aged looking male.

The assembled public appeared to lap it all up, despite the odd twinge of detectable embarrassment among some of the party high command.

Party membership has risen to 322,000 and Labour made the most of that by inviting four recent converts to pose for the cameras. Why join the Labour party? Aaron Clarke-Wills, a 29-year-old trainee barrister, was asked. "Is there a sensible alternative?" he replied.

The 150 events in the tour will include shows combining political debate with comedy, satire and music and a day at Brighton races on the eve of this autumn's party conference.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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 General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific