Friday, May 18, 2007

"Hi, I'm Harriet Harman"

She said, as she swooped on the person in the row in front of me - I had a trashy vampire novel to ward of prospective networking deputy leadership candidates, last night at the palatial London Irish Centre. they prowled the room butting into people's conversations and letter everyone know they were there.

We were being husted.

The first I noticed was Hilary Benn, gadzooks he has a loud booming voice - the sort I'd normally associate with puiblic schooling, but he went to his local comp. He did some sort of interview for Channel Four news, earpiece on, staring to camera - I couldn't hear the questions but it sounded a confident combatative performance.

Harman, Hain, Blears and Johnson all had leaflets flying about - as an affectionada of leaflets I have to say I think Hain's was badly deigned - nicely produced but badly designed. Johnson wasn't present himself, having an unmovable prior arrangement.

The hustings themselves were chaired by affable Lancastrian MP Shahid Malik, and were interesting enough. All of the candidates banged the equality drum - Harman and Cruddas almost explicitly mean equality of outcome (Harman claimed you cannot have equality of opportunbity while you have unequal distribution of wealth, which I'd agree with, but is unusual from this Labour government to hear, and I think I saw one or two bemused faces in the crowd).

Cruddas claimed that all the candidates were going to have to support the Fourth Option on council housing - so presumably they've all taken flak over that - plus they all acknowledged that housing is a big issue round here.

Hain was competent, and wants to have a big seat at the cabinet, to give the DL clout. Benn seemed to think much the same way, stating he thought party organisation should be the Chair's job. Blears wanted a full-time campaigning DL, as did Cruddas.

They were all fine speakers, Cruddas was mateyand informal, Benn highly oratorical, eschewing the fine detail of the otehrs' speeches to talk big politics (even using a stunt I've used on the stump often enough of waving a bottle of water around because kids in Africa are dying from the want of the same).

Harman was the surprise for me, she seemed energeic, committed, and may have bumped up a few placed in my estimation.

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