Monday, 24 July 2017

The Hill Top of Crook, Indeed

"Utterly ruthless, but never exactly in the intellectual vanguard." That was how an erstwhile Special Adviser to a Labour Cabinet Minister described her to me.

Having known Hilary Armstrong for 30 years, and having had the singular pleasure of serving on her Constituency Executive during and around the Iraq War, I treat her latest intervention exactly as it deserves to be treated.

Back in the day, when she was Tony Blair's Chief Whip, she banned me from being a council candidate in her constituency because I was mixed-race, and instead imposed her pure white office boy, who went on to lose the election itself so spectacularly that he took a distinguished councillor down with him.

It is worth noting that a clearly ill-advised Laura Pidcock put this person's image and endorsement on her election literature. Not much in the way of showing racism the red card there.

Armstrong used the hunting ban, of which more anon, to cajole disgraceful Labour MPs into supporting the Iraq War. But she herself did not vote for that ban, nor did Blair, and nor did their close ally, the Stop Gordon Brown candidate of that moment, John Reid.

Around that time, her sometime National Executive Committee "colleague", Mark Seddon, told that, while of course I ought to be the next MP for North West Durham, there was bound to be an all-women shortlist. No one ever bothered to impart such information to the aforementioned office boy, with hilarious consequences.

Speaking of the NEC, Armstrong and her little chai wallah once blocked the Constituency Labour Party here from nominating me to it, thereby preventing anyone else from doing so, since one of my nominations had to come from my home CLP.

In the intervening years, the Conservative Party, while retaining and even consolidating its electoral base, has shrivelled in its membership to a tiny subculture so detached from the mainstream that it regards the repeal of the never-enforced hunting ban as a national priority, while seriously imagining that Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg ought to be Prime Minister.

There are, however, still a few people in that party who realise that such ridiculous figures, both of whom are complete confections and not remotely "authentic", could never win a General Election, either against Jeremy Corbyn, or against any of the stars of the 2015 intake in his Shadow Cabinet, which is where the stars of the 2015 intake are.

In particular, they are justly terrified of Angela Rayner. Hence the barefaced lie that Labour promised to write off existing student debt. Now, there would be no cost involved in writing off absurdly high debts that no one has the slightest intention of ever trying to collect. But Labour never promised to do so.

The General Election has taught the Conservatives nothing. They still believe that they can use their courtier media to spread any old drivel and no one will call them out on it. Hence the student debt story.

And hence the deselection story, which is equally baseless.


  1. She was embarrassing and the present one is just as bad, maybe even worse. Like you I had a lot of time for Pat Glass but you should have been the MP for this seat since 2005.

  2. This is never going to heal, is it? You were robbed.

  3. Allegedly Laura Pidcock is held in high regard by Corbyn and his circle. Such high regard that she has been given absolutely nothing. Say what you like about Hilary Armstrong and it would all be true, but this seat used to be represented by a Cabinet Minister. Now we don't even get a PPS, she might as well be Neil Fleming, in fact even he would have been given something. And to think that we could have had you.

  4. I don't agree with the imposition of Laura Pidcock for the NW Durham seat nor the imposition of an all woman shortlist.

    I have no problem if the MP for this area is a woman, or if they make the interviewing panel 50% women and ensure 50% of the applicants interviewed are women.

    I've lived in NW Durham my entire life and discrimination is rife from being working class which is bad enough. Not being able to to even apply to represent the community I live in (had I wished) because I am a man regardless of how much I've studied to progress myself or how much experience I gain is simply not right.

    I almost quit the Labour party when I read the e mail seeking candidates...