Daily catch-up: an Labour-SNP deal need not threaten Trident; and a green space odyssey

Plus new ways of agreeing and disagreeing with Tony Blair, and a quotation about him traced to its source

John Rentoul
Monday 09 March 2015 09:48

1. Many thanks to Brian Spanner for a late entry in my Top 40 Genuine Business Names.

2. The Top 10 in The New Review, the Independent on Sunday magazine, yesterday was Books Narrated by Killers, a list compiled by guest editor Peter Swanson, author of The Kind Worth Killing. If you are prepared for spoilers, click here.

3. Something dramatic and permanent has happened in Scotland, which is likely to have an effect on the outcome of the general election. If Ed Miliband is to become prime minister, he will probably have to rely on the Scottish National Party to support him.

I wrote about this in The Independent on Sunday yesterday, speculating that Miliband might not mind a deal with the SNP so much because he probably agrees with it about Trident and the power of imaginary money.

On reflection, a Labour-SNP deal is not such a threat to our nuclear deterrent, as there would be a solid majority for it in the House of Commons in any case – nearly all Conservatives and a majority of Labour MPs (despite one survey suggesting three-quarters of Labour candidates in winnable seats were opposed to Trident). It was notable that Nicola Sturgeon was already saying last week that getting rid of Trident would not be a condition of SNP support.

4. After the Labour candidate in the safe SNP seat of Dundee East turned down Tony Blair’s donation of £1,000, one Scot, Seán Duffy, added to my vast collection of different ways in which one can say “I disagree with Tony Blair” with this elegant variation, no 1,399:

“There is a palpable disgust in Scotland with Labour’s role in various conflicts and neoliberal agendas.”

The “palpable” means that the disgust is real and definitely does not exist only in the self-described leftie’s imagination, and “neoliberal” means that the agendas (probably visible only to the wise) are very bad.

This re-opened an old debate about how to define Blairism in 140 characters, a competition won some time ago by Alex Doel, with:

‏“Blairite n. an individual who stubbornly refuses to make the Labour Party unelectable.”

Now Ross P ‏offers a new definition:

“Blairism n. the reality level required for a Labour Party to prevail at an election.”

5. I said last week that there is no evidence Margaret Thatcher ever claimed New Labour or Tony Blair as her proudest legacy, and described this as a comforting myth for Labour’s so-called left. I was of course wrong and am grateful to Steven Fielding ‏for identifying the source, namely Conor Burns, the Thatcherite Conservative MP, recounting in 2008 an event six years earlier:

“Late in 2002 Lady Thatcher came to Hampshire to speak at a dinner for me. Taking her round at the reception one of the guests asked her what was her greatest achievement. She replied, ‘Tony Blair and New Labour. We forced our opponents to change their minds.’”

As Professor Fielding comments, “Of course, it says more about her self-regard than it does of New Labour ... as I argue in my book.” Which I highly recommend.

6. And finally, thanks to Steve Evans for these tearable puns:

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