Once upon a time, there would have been only one contender for the main story of the coming week – the gathering of the Trades Union Congress in Liverpool.
It used to be an event covered with exactly the same focus and intensity as the main party conferences, with the Liberals a poor fourth behind Labour, Tory and unions.
With public sector spending so central to the current political debate, and union funding so important to Labour’s finances, this year’s TUC will attract more attention than in recent years, but still just a fraction of what it used to be.
And it all means less space for roughly the same number of union leaders all hoping to be able to get their points across. Sad therefore, if unsurprising, to see some of the noises they make to get noticed. Derek Simpson, joint leader of Unite, denounced Peter Mandelson, David Miliband and James Purnell as ‘thick’ and ‘Tories’, and called on Gordon Brown to sack Mandelson and Miliband.
There is a lot you can say about PM, DM and James (can’t call him JP because as they sing on the terraces at Hull, there is only one JP…) but ‘thick’ and ‘Tories’ they most certainly aren’t.
Indeed, it underlines the impotency of such calls to know that one day they might have been taken seriously, whereas today both caller and called know they are simply a way of trying to get noticed. As for Mr Simpson’s endorsement of Ed Miliband as GB’s successor … he needs that like a hole in the Ed.
I would reckon the Guardian and the Mirror remain the most read papers by those attending. The brothers should get stuck in to the Guardian’s front page report showing the big rise in pay for executives at Britain’s top companies. As Rory Bremner said when we were doing our charity trading in the City the other day … it’s as though the crisis never happened.
By the way, Guardian people, I loved the World War 2 booklets last week, and talk about from sublime to ridiculous .. this week it’s old copies of Roy of The Rovers, Bunty and The Dandy. Brilliant. And what a bonus that ex-Burnley player and manager Adrian Heath is the 1981 Roy of the Rovers centrefold. Big business this nostalgia, as Dame Vera has shown.
Final point re The Guardian … I went to see The September Issue last night, the fly on the wall profile of American Vogue and its fierce (by reputation) editor Anna Wintour. A bit of a girly film I guess, and male/female wise I was outnumbered about six to one at the packed Everyman in Hampstead. But it was enjoyable enough, with a good mix of quirky characters, a good insight into all that goes into a branch of journalism I know nothing about, and I loved the line where she talked of her brother, Guardian political editor Patrick Wintour, as ‘brilliant’.
I sent Patrick a reassuring text that nobody laughed out loud, said I quite liked the film, but suggested she needed to lighten up a bit. Back came a text about not taking lessons in lightening up from ‘Mr In The Loop’… fair point, I suppose.
I imagine Patrick will be in Liverpool, at least when GB goes, while his sister is jetting from Paris to Milan to New York to anywhere else where she might be influencing the world of fashion. Great things, families.