Monday, 16 August 2021

Kenny Come Home?

“How long had Ken Loach been in the Labour Party?” Well, 32 years from 1962. But then another six from 2015, which is a lot longer than Keir Starmer is expecting parliamentary candidates to have managed.

When, exactly, did Starmer join the Labour Party? He was Director of Public Prosecutions from 1st November 2008 to 1st November 2013. Yet on 13th December 2014, a mere 13 months later, he was selected by the Labour Party as its candidate for its very safe seat of Holborn and St Pancras, beating other shortlisted applicants who included both the Leader of Camden Council and her predecessor.

As for having supported candidates against Labour, Loach was not a party member at the time, so that he could not have been bound by its rules. And he himself has never been such a candidate, whereas the Chief Whip at the time of the Iraq War, Hilary Armstrong, was and is married to Paul Corrigan, who stood for the Communist Party at Coventry North East in 1979.

His 390 votes were 24 fewer than even I was to manage at North West Durham in 2019. But he was eventually put in charge of making NHS privatisation the mainstream politics that it had never been until the Blair Government declared the Gramscian Eurocommunism of Marxism Today to be “the centre ground” and “the political wing of the British people as a whole”.

Before being welcomed into the Parliamentary Labour Party, the late Peter Temple-Morris had been elected as a Conservative Member of Parliament on no fewer than seven occasions. Robert Jackson had been so five times, Quentin Davies five times (including at all three of the General Elections at which Labour had been led by Tony Blair), and Alan Howarth three times. Shaun Woodward had managed it only once, but he had managed it.

In view of the ennoblements of Temple-Morris and Davies upon their retirements, has either of them ever voted Labour at a parliamentary election? If so, then when, exactly? Davies abruptly decided that “my party had left me” on 26th June 2007, the night before Gordon Brown became Prime Minister. He was rapidly rewarded, and he has continued to be so.

Davies remains in receipt of the Labour Whip in the House of Lords, having served under Brown as a Minister in the House of Commons. He had been elected as a Conservative MP at all five of the 1987, 1992, 1997, 2001 and 2005 General Elections, and he had served in the Shadow Cabinets of Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard. Those Shadow Cabinets were ungraced with the presence of Ken Loach.

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