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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Blair at the TUC

This morning's Guardian reports that Tony Blair's farewell speech to the TUC was met with a walkout today by disaffected union members, some carrying placards calling for the prime minister to 'go now'.

Delegates from two Unions not affiliated to the Labour Party, the FBU and the RMT have been blamed for the demonstration. As if to show that these delegates are representative the reporter records that Mr Blair received 23 seconds of polite applause from delegates when he finished his speech.

I never cease to be amazed that people actually time these segments of applause after major speeches, after all everybody knew that Blair was not going to be welcomed with open arms by the TUC. I am often astonished too at how short people's memories are when it comes to politics. A letter in today's Western Mail provides the perfect illustration:

Mr David Lewis of Carmarthen writes: "The disloyalty shown by Labour MPs and AMs unfortunately is not confined to the present administration, and recalls the disposal of Margaret Thatcher and her successors as well as more recently of Charles Kennedy by the Lib-Dems. Nor is Plaid Cymru immune from the disease; one recalls the pressures which forced Dafydd Wigley to resign as leader, much to the detriment of the party and its subsequent performance in the polls.

Gordon Brown and his supporters, by their recent behaviour, have demonstrated yet again the disloyalty so characteristic of current politics. The overwhelming message for Labour and indeed for politicians generally is that the voters will not forget this behaviour and will turn away from both Labour and politics in droves."

Unfortunately, disloyalty born of self-interest is not just a characteristic of 'current' politics as Mr. Lewis states. It has been a common feature of politics since time-immemorial as well as life in general. Nobody likes it but it is there and always will be.

If this puts people off politics then that is unfortunate. I suggest that the difference nowadays is that 24-hour news cycles and the tendency of journalists to speculate and pour over every detail and nuance of every plot or coded message means that the machinations of politics are more public, not that politicians are any different.
C'mon Peter - you might remind people of the history between Simon Hughes and the RMT and Bob Crow.
If I knew what it was (or had time to google it) I would. Feel free to enlighten us.
A quick google finds references to Bob Crow suing Simon Hughes when he was the candidate for london mayor over some allegation about taking money for attending meetings he didn't attend.

Not sure what the outcome was though
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