Village People: How to buy off dissenters
Saturday 18 June 2011
"David Cameron does not realise what a powerful position he is in," said a headline in yesterday's Telegraph. One example the essay did not mention is that the Prime Minister, has not yet latched on to one of his most effective weapons for silencing potential malcontents on his backbenches – knighthoods.
The only Tory MP knighted since Mr Cameron became Prime Minister is Sir Peter Bottomley.
In the world outside, this will be thought to be to David Cameron's credit, but that is not how they see it in the undergrowth of the Conservative Party, where fusty old souls who have lost hope of a job in his government look forward to being consoled by the touch of Her Majesty's sword.
"A lot of people who would have got a knighthood under previous governments are feeling aggrieved. Cameron is missing a chance to keep the troops happy," one old trouper complained.
...and make friends of the Opposition
Maurice Glasman, the scholar-cum-community organiser, was taken aback when Ed Miliband called him last year to invite him to become a Labour peer. "I really like what you're doing and want you to keep doing it," the Labour leader said.
The newly ennobled Lord Glasman of Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill is billed as the thinker who will find Labour's riposte to David Cameron's Big Society. In this paper, Amol Rajan described him as the man who "personifies Blue Labour".
But, to judge from remarks he made earlier this week, his lordship could also be a serious embarrassment to his party. Speaking at the LSE, he rubbished the legacy of the hallowed post-war Labour government, headed by Clement Attlee, holding it responsible for the rise of Margaret Thatcher.
"1945 was such a calamity [because] the nationalisation model did not engage with any worker representation," he said. "It was the same kind of utilitarian managerialism. So, with the breakdown of the nationalisation model, there was no alternative to Thatcherism."
Ken in the pockets of the unions? Not likely
Strikes are usually bad for Labour Party. With the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, up for re-election next year, his backers have been keen to use the disruption of the Underground against his challenger, Ken Livingstone. Livingstone's press team was surprised the other day to receive calls from journalists inviting them to respond to a briefing attributed to the Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, asking "what exactly Bob Crow will be getting in return for his donations" to the Livingstone campaign.
Which would be a fair question, if true. But the RMT union, under Bob Crow's leadership, severed its links with Labour years ago. It has not contributed anything to Livingstone's campaign.
Nostalgia for yesteryear
Lord Wallace of Saltaire, a 69-year-old Liberal Democrat, has been more hardline than others in his party over whether the law should evict protesters like Brian Haw who has been encamped In Parliament Square for nine years.
He explained his attachment to the site: "When I was standing on top of the Henry VII chapel at the 1951 state opening of Parliament, I was fascinated by the speed with which Westminster City Council rubbish collectors picked up the horse manure as the Horse Guards rode past."
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