Last week's TUC conference in Liverpool was as underwhelming as it was ineffective (a sure sign of the times, just imagine if the acquiescent paymasters of New Labour had met in the city, say, 25 years ago).
However, Hugh Muir's Guardian Diary column last Thursday did relate this charming anecdote which I'm delighted to quote in full (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/sep/17/hugh-muir-diary-bnp-griffin ):
"Gordon Brown's original sabre-toothed spin doctor, Charlie Whelan --now head of the political unit at Unite-- has been dazzling admirers with a new sartorial image during a reluctant week-long visit to the TUC in Liverpool. He has taken to wearing a summer-white suit --despite the chill wind-- in the style of Mr Clean himself, Martin Bell. But his views on Liverpudlians can hardly be described as squeaky-clean. While moaning that there are no longer direct flights between his Highland retreat and Liverpool --he had to travel via Manchester-- he says the one consolation is that burglaries in the Highlands have gone down. Just a joke, says Charlie. Brave man."
Ah, yes, Charlie, indeed, just a joke, eh? Yeah, we love those gags & cracks about hubcaps, shellsuits & self-pity. All part of the gaiety of life, we'd all agree. So I'm sure Charlie will laugh at those cracks about him being a typically cold & calculating spin-doctor who lied through his teeth for his political masters, regardless of the consequences. Wouldn't he?
After all, it's not as though Charlie is unpopular with his colleagues at Unite, is it? What? Oh: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/sep/13/unite-official-charlie-whelan .
Still, I'm sure there's no foundation to what Toby Helm describes in his Observer report as "turmoil at Unite since Whelan's appointment as political director." Nor, too, should there be any truth in the claim that there is "a real culture of fear and a climate of bullying that he [Whelan] allows to take place in his department."
Charlie a bully? Ridiculous! He just likes a joke, & this time, it's on him.
Oh, btw, Charlie, about the Martin Bell suit, an actor named Kenneth Cope got there first in a 60s TV series called Randall & Hopkirk Deceased. Kenneth's a scouser. Funny, eh?