UK Politics

Reiding Between the Lines

Polly Toynbee in the Guardian on John Reid’s conference speech:

This must have been one of the most unpleasantly jingoistic, rightwing rabble-rousers a Labour conference has heard in quite a few years. This was Britishness as from the Millwall terraces. “No no-go areas,” he boomed: “We will go where we please, we will discuss what we like.” No fool, he’s hard to fault on particulars: the poison is all in the sentiment and tone.

Translation – It’s difficult to disagree with what John Reid says without being seen to argue in favour of no-go areas and failing to defend freedom of speech, so I’m going to ignore what he says and attack him for not having the polished manners of the metropolitan chatterati I’m comfortable with.

There’s more:

Reformed old communists have this in common: when they swing the other way, they always go that bit too far. They never take off their combat kit: the progressive social democratic gene is alien to their psyche. So there was nothing progressive about his performance yesterday.

Translation – His previous political allegiance should be used to whip up suspicion against him.

You might want to be careful with that tactic Polly:

Both (Tonbee) and Jenkins were supporters of the SDP breakway from Labour in 1981 – both signing the Limehouse Declaration. Toynbee went on to stand for the party at the 1983 General Election in Lewisham East, garnering 9351 votes (22%), and thus helping the Conservatives gain the seat from Labour by a 1909 majority.

Update: There’s a thumbnail sketch of Reid’s speech here for those who want a hint as to why he’s causing so much spluttering in certain quarters.