Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Journal of Lynton Charles

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Journal of Lynton Charles

Article excerpt


Friday "The message is going to be clear and it's going to be uncompromising!" Mr Brown's chin is pushed so far forward that it looks as though it's about to detach itself, fly across the table and bury itself in Red Dawn's bosom.

He continues: "I'm going to be saying that there is the work out there if only those who are seeking it will take it. In the South-east, 85,000 vacancies, 70,000 jobless! We're doing our bit and now it's time for them to do theirs. Any questions?" He looks round the room pugnaciously.

I do have one or two tentative little queries about the difficulty of matching up, say, a lorry driver in Crawley with an underwear machinist's job in Baldock. But Mr Brown reveals a [pounds]400 bridging grant idea. And continues: "Tough love, Lynton! A job, not a Giro! A hand-up, not a handout! A ferry ride, not a freebie! A lift, not a loaf!"

"He got that one last time he was in Chicago," Ed whispers proudly to me. I quiz Mr Brown gently on the politics. On the weekend of the 100th anniversary of the party, isn't it going to sound a bit like Norman Tebbit and "On Yer Bike" all over again?

Mr Brown is ready for this one. "No," he tells me, "because we'll help him to get on that bike, we'll supply him with a basket and a light, and when he gets off it again, we'll be there at the other end!"

Saturday Awake to a peculiar discussion this morning on the Today programme. John Humphrys, who is to public debate these days what Linda Lovelace used to be to pornography -- the only mouth in town -- has got the historian Ben Pimshaw and the gay Labour MP Ben Bradlott talking about what Keir Hardie would have thought of the modern Labour Party.

Sod Keir Hardie, what do the rest of us think about it? A necessary evil? A fabulous, warm, humane institution full of people such as Michael Foot, Ben Elton, old Harriet Toogood and Jenny Lee? …

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