Due to a scheduling balls-up, I was last night at a Labour fundraiser in Greenwhich when I would rather have been at Burnley’s re-arranged home match against Stoke.
Of the fundraiser, more later, but it meant for one night only I was like Bob and Terry from that brilliant episode of The Likely Lads, when they were trying to avoid knowing the result of a match because the highlights were on telly later. Ours was the only Premier League match on last night so we were guaranteed to be the main game for once on Sky’s half ten football special.
It is harder to avoid results in the modern age with mobile phones, blackberries and omnipresent TV sets. I turned off all my contraptions to avoid the ‘what a goal’ ‘oh no’ ‘here we go again’ ‘never a penalty’ type texts that are part of the modern football experience.
Someone came to the fundraiser with a shiny new iphone telling me they could get me minute by minute updates as I spoke. I had to begin my speech with a genuine plea not to tell me any news from Turf Moor, should it filter through. My son, at the match, was similarly under silence instructions. The only tricky moment was at a pub by a set of traffic lights on the way home, when I could see our manager Brian Laws being interviewed on Sky Sports News. I looked away quickly in case smile or grimace gave the game away.
Anyway, I made it, and was home just in time to see the kick-off followed by a one all draw.
As for the fundraiser, as with other recent such events, definitely a change of mood to report, with a sense of hope that people are turning against the Tories and starting to look more favourably on Labour.
Two interesting points from the floor during the q and a. One, which I echoed whole-heartedly, that we need to talk up the record more as a way of pushing back on the negativity in the media and showing how politics has delivered real change. Local MP Nick Raynsford pointed out that even after all the problems of the global economic crisis, unemployment in his area was 40 per cent down on 1997.
Going on about the record is not about getting pats on the back. It is the means by which you make real the prospect that changes planned for the future can and will happen.
The second point concerned the economy, and the insight that campaigning in times of economic difficulty is not as straightforward as campaigning in times of economic strength. The issue then becomes which party can best be trusted to secure the recovery. One speaker from the floor rightly said that he would like to see and hear more from the many economists who reject the Tories’ plans to choke the investment going in to help secure that recovery.
Again, the record is important here – ours and the Tories. I think one of the reasons the polls are narrowing is that GB and Alistair Darling are getting some of the respect they deserve for their handling of the economic crisis when it erupted. The Tories would have let things take their course, with potentially catastrophic consequences, because their instinct is always to see government as the problem not the solution. We cannot let them forget they made the wrong calls then, because it indicates to the public they would make the wrong calls now. With the date for the Budget now set, Alistair Darling’s calm and ability to tell it as it is will come in handy up against George Osborne.
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