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!

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“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 …

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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

Peter Watt’s Inside Out: book review

When I sat down to read Peter Watt’s memoirs, Inside Out, I was curious to find the answer to two questions.

First, I’d met him regularly at Electoral Commission meetings before he became Labour’s General Secretary and he always struck me as a bright, enthusiastic – and young – person. When he was appointed General Secretary I was intrigued as to how someone who seemed so much younger and less experienced in the ways of the Labour Party than previous General Secretaries had made it to the top. For him, it was just nine years from starting work for Labour …

Posted in Books and Election law | Also tagged , , , and | 1 Comment

What the papers say…

Tories claim Labour is using taxpayers’ money to fund election advertising campaign – Telegraph, 15.1.10

“The Conservatives accused Labour of “raiding” taxpayers’ money to fund their election campaign. New figures uncovered by the Conservatives show that spending on advertising has increased to £232 million, which is a 39 per cent increase on the previous year.”

A tenth of schools fail to meet GCSE targets – The Guardian, 14.1.10

“One in 10 secondary schools in England failed to meet basic targets for GCSEs last summer and academies were disproportionately represented among the failing institutions, government statistics published today reveal.

“David Laws, the Liberal Democrats’ education …

Posted in General Election and News | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , and | 2 Comments

Daily View 2×2: 11 January 2010

Happy Monday morning, everybody! It’s 440 years to the day since the first lottery was held in Britain; 60 years since the first recorded snowfall in Los Angeles; and the 56th birthday of actor-comedian John Sessions. But enough factoids, here are the factuals …

2 Big Stories

The fall-out from the Labour SnowStorm plot

We’re in the final months of Gordon Brown’s premiership, and the Labour debate is focusing on what happens after the party loses the election. James Purnell, who resigned from the cabinet in June to no discernible effect, tells us his differences with Mr Brown in an article in

Posted in Daily View | 2 Comments

Five Labour donation puzzles

  1. Chris Leslie, former Labour MP Labour MP and Gordon Brown’s leadership election campaign coordinator, has been named by Harriet Harman’s aides as the person who suggested they contact Janet Kidd for a donation to her campaign. Yet the Gordon Brown campaign also received a cheque from Janet Kidd and rejected it. Why reject money from someone whilst also recommending that person to someone else? Any why recommend Janet Kidd from amongst all the other possible donors?
  2. Peter Hain’s Labour Deputy Labour Leadership campaign has admitted it failed to declare to the Electoral Commission a £5,000 donation from Jon Mendelsohn.
  3. BBC’s Newsnight has broadcast a

Posted in News | 3 Comments

Will two other Labour General Secretaries be in trouble?

One of the interesting angles to emerge today in the Labour donations story is that Peter Watt is in fact the third General Secretary to have been in post when donations were received via other people from David Abrahams.

Janet Dunn, Janet Kidd and Ray Ruddick all gave £25,000 whilst David Triesman (now in the House of Lords as Baron Triesman of Tottenham) was Labour General Secretary, with £65,000 coming from John McCarthy and £12,000 from Janet Kidd whilst Matt Carter was Labour General Secretary. (Source: BBC)

Posted in News | 1 Comment

EXCLUSIVE: Email from Electoral Commission to Peter Watt

Peter Watt emailOn 21 July 2006 staff at the Electoral Commission sent an email to representatives of all the main political parties, including Peter Watt (and myself, which is why I happen to have a copy). Click on the thumbnail to see the full version.

Attached was a draft new edition of the Electoral Commission’s guidance on donations. This is what paragraph 4.29 of the document said:

If the original source of the donation is someone other than the individual or

Posted in News | 6 Comments

Labour General Secretary quits over dodgy donation

Peter Watt has resigned because, as the BBC reports:

David Abrahams gave more than £400,000 through associates, claiming he wanted to avoid publicity. Mr Watt told a meeting of officers of Labour’s National Executive Committee that he had known about the arrangement. But he added that he had not known it might be illegal.

Posted in News | 7 Comments



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