I seem to have attracted the attention of a New Labour troll with my post on Stephen Twigg becoming the party's candidate in West Derby. "Anonymous" (what an original web moniker!) is of the view that this blog is "ill-informed". When a New Labour minion throws that one out, I have to smile.
I suppose it isn't easy to hold on to the Third Way in these times, what with one thing after another. Overlooked, largely, in the last few days has been the departure of Derek Draper from the LabourList website (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/may/06/derek-draper-labour-list-editor ).
Certainly, Stephen Twigg's website sheds a little more light on the circumstances surrounding his guest post on David Bartlett's Dale Street Blues blog (http://www.twigg4westderby.com/guest-blog-on-dale-street-blues ):
"Thanks to David Bartlett, now of the Post and Echo who kindly asked me to produce a guest blog for the Dale Street Blues.
"I've chosen to write my blog on how new propopals from the Government to reduce speed limits have once again drawn attention to the numbers of unnecessary lives lost and people injured on our roads."
"Anonymous" also stated that Twigg had already bought a property in Liverpool by way of his commitment to the area. He/she didn't say whether the property was in the constituency itself. Some might think that a minor quibble. After all, you don't have to live in the constituency you represent (Terry Fields continued to live in Bootle while serving as Broadgreen's MP). Nor is it intended to be a parochial point -- Eric Heffer was an outstanding constituency MP for Walton over three decades, despite the fact that he originally hailed from Hertfordshire (http://www.archiveshub.ac.uk/news/0403eh.html ). However, if the property is in, say, Mossley Hill or Woolton, it's still a different environment from many of the wards making up West Derby.
Twigg's page features a map of the newly redrawn boundaries of the West Derby constituency. The redrawn seat includes Tuebrook, Croxteth & Norris Green; a long way from leafy Enfield in North London suburbia.
At the time of Twigg's selection for the seat, Susan Press, vice-chair of the Labour Representation Committee, expressed her dismay at the news & commented that "parachuting Twigg into a constituency in such a manner is cynical, unnecessary and typical shenanigans of a kind we have had far too much of in recent years. There must surely have been a wealth of local candidates who would have been more appropriate....." (http://grimmerupnorth.blogspot.com/2007/09/stephen-twigg-selected-in-west-derby.html ).
Moreover, one commenter on Press' post recalls an occasion which may be of interest to those in West Derby & elsewhere who couldn't or wouldn't pay Thatcher's Poll Tax:
"I remember Twigg being lambasted at NUS [National Union of Students] conference in 1989 for telling delegates he would pay his poll tax. Scottish students booed him off the stage.
"He was a right-wing fool then and still is."
Twigg was seen by many on election night in 1997 as personifying New Labour. How ironic that he hopes to re-enter Parliament when the Augean stables of Westminster are being exposed as rarely before (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/interactive/2009/may/08/labour-cabinet-mps-expenses-claims ).
It adds insult to injury when one considers the glaring failure of New Labour to address what was, Blair & co. declared, a top priority, inequality (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/may/08/poverty-equality-britain-incomes-poor ).
It is a failing roundly dissected & excoriated by Larry Elliot (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/may/07/inequality-poverty-labour ):
"It's not that difficult to analyse what has happened. Labour inherited one of the west's most unequal societies from the Conservatives in 1997 and, far from reversing the trend, it has allowed the gap between rich and poor to widen.
"A deregulated and de-unionised economy meant the sky was the limit for those at the top, but downward pressure on wages for those at the bottom.
"During Labour's first two terms, there was at least some positive gloss that could be put on the inequality figures. It wasn't that the incomes of the poor were going down, merely that the incomes of the rich were going up more rapidly."
The last few days have seen more details emerge about the bubble which MPs, not just those in the New Labour camp, inhabit; it's not often that I side with the Daily Telegraph (in fact, I think it's a first), but the question of how they received the expenses figures is irrelevant when set against the decadent, Bourbonesque excesses they reveal. It is therefore either an astonishing act of political chutzpah, or a jaw-dropping act of naivety for cabinet minister Caroline Flint to appear in today's Observer displaying different fashion outfits, & posing in a way designed to make her look like a 50s femme fatale (http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/may/10/caroline-flint-uk-politics ), particularly when her own actions in the Great Westminster Expenses Scam were featured by the Telegraph on Friday (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/5293149/Caroline-Flint-claimed-14000-for-fees-for-new-flat-MPs-expenses.html ).
This is the demi-monde to which Stephen Twigg hopes to return next year. Good Luck, Stephen. Oh, & you, too, "Anonymous".