Village People: Slow progress

There is more to the Ed Balls papers leaked to the Daily Telegraph than plotting and bile against Tony Blair. One of the most revealing document is the long memo written by Gordon Brown around October 2005, when he was exasperated by Tony Blair's speech to the Labour Party conference, and accused Blair of "self promotion".

Having got that off his chest, the then future Prime Minister showed hard common sense, for instance by warning against mouthing slogans that have no meaning. Don't say "Labour renewal" unless you have a plan to renew Labour, he suggested.

He feared that even one of his favoured slogans, "progressive consensus", was becoming "a term anyone will latch on to but with no definition or clarity".

He was right, of course, and yet more than five years later, the phrase lingers on, as in Ed Miliband's speech to a Fabian conference in January: "I am optimistic because the last ten years have shown we can build a progressive consensus in this country that poverty matters."

Still spinning

Seeing Gordon Brown back in the news evokes memories of that awful day in Rochdale when he climbed into a car and complained to his advisers about a "bigoted woman" he had supposedly encountered. After Brown spotted that he was still miked up, his press adviser Iain Bundred assured him it would not matter, because Sky would not broadcast a private conversation.

That was not the highlight of young Mr Bundred's career. Last week, he took up a new job in public relations where he should do well, because he sure knows how to talk PR. In a statement about his new job, he explained: "As PR moves away from traditional silos and towards offering 360-degree brand reputation strateeezzz..." Sorry, my fingers slipped off the keyboard.

Sally forth

The comments that the Speaker, John Bercow, made in conversation on stage with my colleague Steve Richards about the Daily Mail – a "sexist, racist, bigoted, comic cartoon strip" – have been well publicised. His remarks about Sally Bercow, above, his Labour-supporting, Twitter-using towel-modelling other half, less so. He said: "I don't know in advance what she's going to tweet, which is probably just as well. The duty of impartiality doesn't exist for her. There isn't a Mrs Speaker. It's a spectacularly sexist idea that Sally should have to be silent." Still, you wonder whether Sally Bercow would have notched up nearly 25,000 Twitter followers if she was Mrs Ordinary.

Baghdad connection

The former Labour MP Bob Marshall-Andrews remarks in his memoirs, Off Message, published this week, how little media interest there is in the opinions of ex-MPs. And even serving MPs will make the news only when their opinions fit the agenda. Thus he tells how, before the Iraq war, he was desperate to get on air to express his suspicions about the case for war, but all the requests he had from broadcasters were for his comments on the now forgotten trial of Princess Diana's former butler, Paul Burrell. "It was during a morning interview on 5 live that my reserve and patience finally cracked," he wrote. Asked to comment on Burrell's allegations about royal servants, "I found myself observing, 'non-consensual sodomy of royal valets is almost unknown in Baghdad. That is, however, no reason to believe that they possess weapons of mass destruction'."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test