Tag Archives: peter watt

Your essential weekend reader — 12 must-read articles you may have missed

It’s Saturday evening, so here are twelve thought-provoking articles to stimulate your thinking juices culled from the 50+ I’ve linked to from my Delcicious account this last week…

Groundhog year – Peter Kellner examines the polls to find how 12 months’ political turmoil has shifted popular opinion. The answer — not at all: ‘public reaction this year to Britain’s continuing economic troubles has been remarkably static. 2012 has been groundhog year.’

What next? Osborne needs a change of direction – Adam Posen, a former …

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Does Labour have a ‘Plan B’ for the economy at the next election?

The question is repeatedly asked of the Coalition and its economic policy of deficit reduction: do you have a Plan B? (It is, by the way, a ludicrous question to ask — Steve Richards, the left-leaning Independent commentator, has acknowledged as much: ‘The debate is silly because no Chancellor can acknowledge an alternative route in advance.’)

But if the question’s going to continue to be asked, let’s at least do it the justice of turning it round: does Labour have a Plan B? The thought was in particular prompted by this excellent post — unambiguously titled, Labour must stop

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 8 Comments

Meet the Lib Dem bloggers: Olly Grender

Welcome to the latest in our series giving the human face behind some of the blogs you can find on the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator.

Today it is Olly Grender, who blogs at http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/olly-grender.

1. What’s your formative political memory?
A toss up between my Mum voting in favour of joining Europe in the referendum and my Dad feeling agitated about and improving workers rights in industry.

2. When did you start blogging?
In January, so please be gentle with me! (though all constructive feedback from fellow LibDems welcome).

3. Why did you start blogging?
Have been thinking of doing it for some time, as occasionally you need a few more words than Twitter or broadcasting allows – plus the New Statesman asked me!

4. What five words would you use to describe your blog?
Politics, liberalism, media, coalition, punditry.

5. What five words would you use to describe your political views?
Liberal – that is all.

6. Which post have you most liked writing in the last year (and why)?
As a total novice there is little to choose from. However I enjoyed having a pop at the Daily Telegraph in this one about Nick Clegg’s Red Box.

7. Which post have you most liked reading in the last year (and why)?
I thought this was the most astounding blog of 2010. It’s by Peter Watt, former General Secretary to the Labour Party, and it summed up in so many ways why working with Labour right now would be such a challenge because, as Peter describes, they currently have an inability to listen and struggle to believe that others in politics wish to do good.

8. What’s your favourite YouTube clip?
God would love to do something political but I LOVE this Virgin Atlantic ad soooooooooo beautifully done I could watch it over and over. Enjoy!

Posted in Online politics | Also tagged , , , , and | Leave a comment

“We don’t see it, but our arrogance stops us from listening”

So wrote former Labour Party General Secretary Peter Watt in a piece over on Labour Uncut this week:

There is an arrogance at the heart of our politics that is going to make it difficult to really understand why we lost. It is an arrogance that says that we alone own morality and that we alone want the best for people. It says that our instincts and our motives alone are pure. It’s an arrogance that belittles others’ fears and concerns as “isms” whilst raising ours as righteous. We then mistakenly define ourselves as being distinctive from our opponents

Posted in News | 12 Comments

Book review: Peter Mandelson’s The Third Man – Life at the heart of New Labour

At the book’s title suggests, Peter Mandelson’s memoirs The Third Man do not hold back from placing himself not only at the heart of New Labour but also at its top, variously using the phrases the three musketeers or the triumvirate to describe himself and the two Prime Ministers, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Mandelson is also, alongside Peter Watt and Deborah Mattinson, part of another trio – Labour insiders who have recently published their account of life in New Labour. They all scatter some compliments about Brown through their books, but the overall picture painted of Gordon Brown is a deeply unflattering one. It’s a picture of a once talented politician and strategic thinker who spent over a decade in a sulk at not becoming Labour leader, frequently indulging in highly partisan infighting and repeatedly pushing to one side policy priorities as so many at the top of Labour were consumed with trying to keep the Blair-Brown show from completely imploding. As Mandelson records it, even Gordon Brown (speaking to him in 2008) admitted,

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Book review: Talking to a brick wall by Deborah Mattinson

Deborah Mattinson’s account of what she saw during her time as a leading pollster to the Labour Party certainly doesn’t stint in portraying her own role in what the book calls “Europe’s greatest election winning machine of the modern era”. The fact that Labour won three general elections in a row and yet the fact that, even looking no further than the same country and the same part of the century, the preceding Conservative government did one better and won four general elections in a row, does provide a warning against taking everything in the book – whether from the …

Posted in Books | Also tagged , and | 1 Comment

Book review: Peter Watt’s Inside Out – 5 things which struck me

Let’s begin with the positive: Inside Out, Peter Watt’s autobiographical account of his two years as Labour general secretary during the handover from Tony Blair to Gordon Brown, is an entertainingly gossipy book which, at 200 pages, doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s packed with anecdotes and throwaway remarks which cast a new – and rarely flattering – light on Labour’s senior dramatis personae. In short, well worth reading.

But does Peter Watt come out of it well. Hmmm, there I’m less sure. Here are the five aspects of the book which struck me …

Thing 1: Tribalism

The over-riding impression of Inside Out is quite how tribal politics is. And not just tribal between parties – that’s, at least in part, to be expected – but also within parties. For example, the very New Labour Peter Watt boasts of exploiting the rift between Blair and Brown when hacking for the post of general secretary, accumulating a motley collection of votes on Labour’s National Executive Committee from “trade unionists, people on the hard left and passionate Blairites”.

Mr Watt presents the traditional mea culpa at the end of the book (“tribalism turns good men bad”), but it’s easy to be sage after the event: what politics needs is for its participants to recognise this when they’re in leadership positions, not when they’ve shed them.

Posted in Books and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments
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