Monthly Archives: September 2009

Jim Pickard

At last night’s Labour gala dinner in Brighton Lesley Garrett treated paying guests to a rendition of Andy Williams’ classic, The Impossible Dream. Lyrics include:

“And the world will be better for this
That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star.” Read more >>

A far cry from the heady days of 1997: Jim Pickard looks at the mood on the ground at this year’s Labour conference Read more >>

Jim Pickard

Gordon Brown gets angry with Adam Boulton, calling him a “political propagandist”

Paul Waugh says the single-mother supervised homes policy is 10 years old. Read more >>

Jim Pickard

The rumour swilling around conference this morning is that the News International party last night was a rather strained affair; given that news broke of the Sun’s defection to the Tories half way through. Various cabinet ministers heard about the news as they were swigging Murdoch’s free beverages. Some observers later heard Lord Mandelson tell NI executives in no uncertain terms that they were out of line*. Apparently a c-word was used.  Mandelson has since insisted that the word in question was “chump”.

* The Sun’s move appears to have been timed for maximum political impact, just hours after Brown’s speech. The rumour is that new editor Dominic Mohan didn’t bother to tell GB (despite a phone conversation earlier yesterday) that the bombshell was primed. Mohan is not even here in Brighton. Meanwhile it’s interesting that the Scottish version of the Sun will not back the Conservatives. Read more >>

Jim Pickard

Jack Dromey, Labour Treasurer, has just revealed that JK Rowling – who has helped Labour in the past – is going to “support the party (financially) on a continuing basis”. No specific figure for how much she will give however.

For those who care, Will Straw has a “word cloud” which shows which words cropped up the most.

3.33 Well, that’s it folks. The prime minister has kissed his wife. The delegates are on their feet. They’ve been told that their “abiding duty” is to “stand, and fight, and win, and serve”. They’ve been shown the sunny uplands and been told to “never stop believing in the good sense of the British people”. Because the task is difficult “the triumph will be even greater”, he promises. It seems to have all gone down well in the hall.
 Read more >>

Jim Pickard

It is rare for a conference speech to win the praises of Matthew Engel, our political sketchwriter, whose shrewd observations are up there with the best of his trade.

But even he ponders this morning whether the prospect of PM for PM is now more likely after what was universally seen as a great speech yesterday by Lord Mandelson. “Yesterday morning I would have laughed in your face. Right now I am not quite so sure,” he says. Read more >>

Jim Pickard

It’s always struck me as a tad strange how the political winds blow behind certain individuals – and then shift direction within days. It wasn’t long ago that the entire Westminster bubble was discussing the idea of Alan Johnson (“the postie”, as he is described by some of Gordon Brown’s loyalists) as a future Labour leader. Now the winds appear to be behind Ed Miliband, after he was endorsed by Derek Simpson and a few others. There is often no rhyme or reason behind the shifts. One day’s hero is tomorrow’s zero – and vice versa. Is the younger Miliband really a rising star, or are you just repeating something you heard over coffee this morning? I’ve no idea.

Anyway, Charlie Bibby has captured this shot of Johnson’s speech at conference this morning. It speaks for itself. Read more >>

Labour is clearly sparing every expense in Brighton. The party is so cash-strapped that it has forced its staff to show solidarity and share hotel rooms. Oh the conference spirit!

No doubt, in decades to come, they will look back at slumming it with fond memories. But for now they are distinctly unimpressed. “It’s lucky our hours are so long that we don’t need a bed,” one moaned. Read more >>

Jim Pickard

I paused before writing a blog in defence of Gordon Brown this morning; regular readers will know it doesn’t happen so often.

But now Channel 4 have interviewed the man who wrote the original blog starting the allegations about Brown’s health. “I still have no more proof than anyone else,” the blogger tells Krishnan Guru-MurthyRead more >>

Jim Pickard

A classic photo (copyright Charlie Bibby) of Andrew Marr being harangued – or vice-versa – by Ian Austin, loyal Parliamentary ally to Gordon Brown. Could it be anything to do with yesterday’s interview?