Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Fiduciary Secretary to the Treasury

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Fiduciary Secretary to the Treasury

Article excerpt

Sunday An afternoon train to Brighton, Lolita's pert features framed by the light coming through the grubby Connex train window, as the early autumnal countryside slips past. We are the advance guard of the Treasury's embassy to the TUC; Red Dawn will be here to wow them later in the week, when they're tired and emotional and their defences are down. We check into the Grand (can it really be only 15 years since the IRA nearly killed an entire cabinet and a prime minister here?) and go our separate ways.

My first port of call is tea with Starbuck and the pro-euro unionists at the Metropole. The Gensecs are too busy to come (keeping their powder dry for The Master's appearance on Tuesday) and have sent in their stead their own Starbucks, assistant general secretaries and heads of research. All very new, all congratulating themselves that they never went into lobbying.

As I leave I nearly collide with a man, whose features and demeanour are totally, absurdly familiar: as though I'd been married to him for ten years and then divorced. Scargill! Grey, his cheeks flecked with veins, but the same heavy-lidded eyes, petulant mouth, pointed nose and strange hair. And his strike was the same year as the Brighton bomb. It feels like a historical event now, a sepia-toned news-reel in the middle of which your dad tells you, proudly, that he remembers when the Bismarck was sunk. Scargill seems as real as Stalin, or Leslie Hore Belisha, or the Duke of Windsor. And yet I was there! I spoke at miners' solidarity rallies in Southampton and Portsmouth (albeit under a hail of invective from Worker's Struggle and Socialist War).

Then to dinner with two BBC correspondents at a swish new Asian fusion joint in the Lanes, near the seafront. They are a bit grumpy because they've been trying to get a meal with Mr Brown for six months, only to wind up with me. …

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