It turns out to be true. Regular readers will know that there have long been those in the Labour Party in these parts, or formerly of it, who called me "Speedboat", "Look what you could have won." But the people who think every day about how much they hate me call me "The Cockroach", "the only thing that would survive a nuclear holocaust."
Although they do also have a presence in Durham City among mentally unstable alcoholics who think that I make things go bump in the night, those latter are most notable for their control of the Labour Party in North Durham, the constituency into which it is proposed to move Lanchester, and which in that case I would contest at the next General Election. Let them test their theory. They have tried everything else. Let them deploy against me one of their beloved nuclear weapons.
Ah, the Labour Party, so right-wing that it is now outflanked on the left several times each week by the most right-wing Government to have lasted more than eight weeks since the War. Note that while Will Dry's Labour Party membership led to his expulsion from the Conservative Party, the reverse did not apply. He may still be a member of the Labour Party, as may any number of the vast array of Spads, of whom the Prime Minister alone seems to need 28.
I have been asked what I thought of the return of Patricia Hewitt, since I had done more than anyone else alive to publicise the story of her, Harriet Harman, and the Paedophile Information Exchange. Everyone knows that story now. The point is that no one cares. It was Hewitt who told speakers at Labour Party Conferences, "Do not use the word "equality"; the preferred term is "fairness"." She it was, a mere Press Officer, who, in a sign of things to come, was not told where to get off for having presumed so to instruct her betters.
Hewitt had secured employment from Neil Kinnock by writing him a gushing letter of support during his Leadership campaign, exactly the same as the one that she had sent simultaneously to Roy Hattersley. She went on to help found the Institute for Public Policy Research, and then, soon after Tony Blair became Leader, to become Head of Research at Andersen Consulting. That was a position for which she had no apparent qualification beyond her closeness to the Prime Minister in Waiting. In 1997, she entered Parliament, he entered Downing Street, and the Labour commitment to regulate such companies was dropped.
As was the previous Conservative Government's absolute ban on all work for Andersen in view of its role in the DeLorean fraud. Andersen paid just over £21 million of the £200 million that Margaret Thatcher and John Major had demanded, barely covering the Government's legal costs. It went on to write, among other things, a report claiming that the Private Finance Initiative was good value for money. That was the only report on the subject that the Blair Government ever cited, since it was the only one to say that ridiculous thing.
As Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Hewitt tried to give auditors limited liability. It took the Conservative Opposition and the Bush Administration to see her off. Also a former Health Secretary, she was still a sitting Labour MP when she was mostly a paid lobbyist for private healthcare. In September 2020, she was made an Adviser to the Board of Trade. And now, this.
Welcome to the return of the condescending New Labour ladies, a type that otherwise died out with Joyce Grenfell, and even she had been doing it as a joke. The likes of Hewitt and Harman took themselves completely seriously, and they still do. Nor is their reemergence confined to the present Government. Certain Labour finishing schools with names like "The Future Candidates Programme" are producing a whole new generation of them, taught to walk with books on their heads but not how to read, yet somehow better-born and born better.
More broadly, the Labour candidates who are being selected for the next General Election not only lack campaigning backgrounds, but are drawn heavily from that against which most campaigns have to be fought, the right-wing Labour machine in local government. Yet the Conservatives do seem to be taking fright.
William Wragg, Chloe Smith, Dehenna Davison: I am older than all three of those retirees, which delights me, because someone who thought that he would have been Prime Minister by now is older again and has never been elected above Parish level. Anyway, the boundary changes here in County Durham are a nightmare, but Bishop Auckland's are not the worst. Davison's majority would probably have been reduced, but she could have held on.
Regardless of party, people who lose their seats in Parliament stand a more than 50 per cent chance of still being unemployed 12 months later. So much for, "I could make twice as much outside." Based on the salary alone, that would be £168,288. Almost no one makes that.
Those who do are rarely, if ever, public sector middle-class people whose union reps had taken them to one side and told them that they had peaked, but that Labour seats had been arranged to keep them ticking over for the next 20 to 25 years. Or private sector middle-class people who had been taken to one side at the Rotary Club or the Masons and told that they had peaked, but that Conservative seats had been arranged to keep them ticking over for the next 20 to 25 years. Or drawn from that cross-party collection of people who had simply taken over the seats of the close relatives or the family friends who had been their only previous employers.
There were 3,415 candidates at the last General Election. Add in those who unsuccessfully sought selection by their political parties, and a figure of 10,000 would not be unreasonable. There is no shortage of people who would like to be MPs. And we would have no trouble living on £84,144 per annum, plus huge, self-certified expenses. Admittedly, making that outside might be a bit of a stretch. But the same would be true of the people who were in Parliament now. As it always has been.
Labour is already openly down one seat. It expresses no hope of retaining Islington North against Jeremy Corbyn. Its candidate there would be lucky to place fourth. But if Corbyn really were a friend of Hamas, Hezbollah and the IRA, a man with links to the regimes in Russia and Iran, then there would be no applicants to become that candidate. No one would dare. Would you? Well, there you are, then.
The same has always been true of Corbyn in general. If anyone had ever thought that he really was in a position to send round the boys from South Beirut and West Belfast, from Kerry and Khan Yunis, then they would have shown him a great deal more respect, in the Tony Soprano sense of the word. That they have not and do not, proves conclusively that they did not and do not. The simple presence of a Labour candidate against Corbyn will reiterate that fact.
Nor would there be any Labour candidate against me if the people who called me "The Cockroach" believed that I was the international terrorist that they had framed me as being. If anyone at all believed that, then I would still be in prison. Do look up the details of what I was supposed to have done. If anyone believed those, then I would never be released. Anyone who had done them probably ought not to be.
We are heading for a hung Parliament. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.