Monday, 27 September 2010

Trust Labour once again? Hmm – do they trust each other?


It wasn’t the elevation of the younger Milliband which surprised me. Given the choice between Yogi Bear and Boo Boo, the extra-parliamentary party, smarting from years during which powerful leaders had been out of its control, opted perhaps inevitably for the more manipulable of the brothers.
No – what stopped me short was a line on the radio in the run-up to the coronation.
We were told that the five candidates, before being placed in purdah and told who’d won, had been obliged to surrender all Blackberries, mobiles, pagers and any other electronic means of communication.
The precaution – if this commentary was true – must have been taken in case one or more of them chose to leak the news.
Aren’t decency and trustworthiness necessary qualities if one is to be eligible to lead a party, a parliament, and a country?
In other words, shouldn’t it have been sufficient to say, “look, we don’t want to rob our lady chairperson, the conference, the media and the country of their moment of theatre, so would you mind keeping the result under your hat until it’s revealed from the platform?”
Doesn’t this IT confiscation betray the running flaw at the heart of Labour’s approach to people management –disable people just in case they behave irresponsibly; don’t believe in innocence until guilt is proven; in extremis, shoot first and ask questions later?
Saturday’s cameo in which the five candidates were electronically disabled was a miniature version of the last Labour government’s policy of imprisonment without trial, the trial in this case being whether they would be honourable enough to wait in the room and resist an itch to pull out the mobile and phone a friend.
As I write this, Radio 5 is discussing the leadership aftermath. Someone has just said that Labour’s “default mode is to unite.”
Ah yes, as it did for all those years under Tony and Gordon.

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