Victory With Victor?
Victor Meldrew is supporting Peter Hain for the Deputy Leadership of the Labour Party. I go a step further and keep pressing Peter to stand for the Leadership itself.
So what have Richard Wilson (who played the roll of Victor Meldrew) and I got in common which leads us to see just what it is that Peter has to offer the Labour Party?
The Wisdom of the Aged
Simply that we are old enough to know a thing or two about both Peter and the needs of the Labour Party. Victor and I are both "threescoreyearsandten" being born within a fortnight of each other. We, therefore, have memories which go back to the triumph of the real Labour Party under Attlee in 1945.
Our knowledge of Peter goes back to the 1970s. We saw Peter's anti-apartheid work with the campaigns on Stop the Seventy Tours against the white-only South African rugby and cricket teams. My banner at the latter said "Hit Apartheid For Six".
We have both probably absorbed many of the 21 books and pamphlets which Peter has written since 1971, where his advocacy of libertarian socialism has matured over time.
We also saw Peter's involvement in the setting up of the Anti-Nazi League and his move into the Labour Party in 1977. Twenty years later we saw him set off on a commendable Front Bench career, where he often pushed the boundaries as far as he could under New Labour with responsibilities for Wales, Africa, the European Union, the Leadership of the Commons and Northern Ireland.
To Boo or Not To Boo?
Mind I wasn't always a fan of Peter's. When he moved from the leadership role he had played in the Young Liberals to join the Labour Party at the age of 27, I was annoyed when he immediately appeared on a Tribune platform at a Labour Party Conference before he had served his apprenticeship with us. So I roundly heckled him from the body of the meeting.
Then in the pages of Tribune, Neil Kinnock condemned the unruly mob who had attempted to disrupt the meeting. I responded with a letter defending the right of the little people to boo.
Peter has not forgotten the incident. As Leader of the Commons in 2003, the prefaces to a question and answer on ex-miners chest diseases went as follows -
Harry Barnes: "May I welcome the new Leader to his post? I have obviously changed my opinion since I heckled him at a Tribune Rally just after he moved over from the Liberal Party....."
Peter Hain: "First, I thank my hon.Friend for his historical reference. It was 26 years ago, if I am right in September 1977 and, as I recall, it was a very friendly heckle....." ( Which, of course, it was not. HB.)
I was in the Commons last week for a St. Patrick's (Early) Day Reception. Unfortunately, duties arising from the Northern Ireland Election results prevented Peter turning up. It was a pity because I would have put my case to him for his standing for Leader. And if he had rejected what I had to say, I could always have booed him again.
You never know what 70 year olds like Victor and myself will get up to.