X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Please note: Previously subscribers used a 'WebID' to log into the website. Your subscriber number is not the same as the WebID. Please ensure you use the subscriber number when you link your subscription.

Blogs

Can’t we even throw out Lynne Featherstone?

22 January 2013

11:49 AM

22 January 2013

11:49 AM

I gave a talk to the Hornsey and Wood Green Labour Party last night. If you don’t know the area, the constituency covers Highgate, Muswell Hill and Crouch End: leafy north London villages, where the metropolitan middle class go, if not to die, then at least to produce babies. There are pockets of high unemployment and council housing, but the seat is generally prosperous and in places very prosperous. Its fortunes illustrate how the political parties have attended to the needs of the urban bourgeoisie.

The Conservatives are nowhere now. As late as 1992, Hornsey and Wood Green was a Tory seat. This year they closed their local office and gave up, as they have given up in so many British cities. I don’t want to go on about Conservative failings in the Spectator of all places, but if you people got out more you would realise that few care about EU, gay marriage and those other bugbears, which make you seem as strange as Scientologists or 9/11 truthers. If you mentioned the extortionate cost of finding a home, or jobs, or pensions, you might begin to seem like creatures from the same species as the rest of us.

Which is not to say that Labour have it easy. Barbara Roche took Hornsey and Wood Green in 1992. Just before the Second Iraq War of 2003, her Constituency Labour Party ordered her to vote to against sending British troops to overthrow Saddam. In good Burkean fashion, Roche insisted that she was a representative, not a delegate, and voted for war. It was a magnificent declaration of independence. Unfortunately for her, local Labour members declared their independence too, and resigned en masse. She had no one to campaign for her, and her defeat was inevitable.

The Liberal Democrat Lynne Featherstone took the seat in 2005 on an anti-war ticket, and won again in 2010 with a majority of 6875.

[Alt-Text]


I cannot tell you how much I dislike this stupid, two-faced and dangerous politician. People say there are no good causes left worth fighting for. Not true in my humble opinion. Removing Lynne Featherstone from office is as noble a cause as you could hope to find.

I must declare an interest. Featherstone intervened during the recent hullabaloo about the “transphobic” polemic by Julie Burchill my newspaper the Observer ran a few weeks ago. Featherstone demanded that we should fire Burchill and fire the editor as well. I have worked through the worst days of Bernard Ingham and Alastair Campbell’s manipulation of the media, but I have never before heard a minister in a democracy call for writers and editors to be fired for publishing an opinion, however offensive and controversial it may be. That the minister in question calls herself a “liberal” means that Featherstone is not just a menace but a hypocrite too.

And a fool. Featherstone will have lodged herself in the minds of many readers with her statement when she was equalities minister in 2010 that Christina Hendricks was ‘a fabulous role model’ for young women – an announcement which produced the unimprovable headline in the Daily Mash, ‘Women Should Be Hot, Slutty Secretaries With Massive Boobs, Says Equalities Minister’. Beyond her wittering, lies the grim condition of women living under the coalition she serves, which stands as a rebuke to all her pretensions.

Labour should retake the seat in 2015. Indeed, Labour has to retake the seat if it is to have any hope of forming a government. Pundits who talk about Miliband presiding over a ‘united left’ overestimate Labour’s strength. In most Liberal Democrat seats in the shires, if left wingers vote Labour because they can no longer support the party of Clegg to keep the Tory out, the Conservatives will come through the middle and win. If you look at Labour’s list of battleground seats, Hornsey and Wood Green is one of the few Lib Dem seats the party hopes to capture.

Yet when I went to the pub with the Labour activists, they were in despair. They did not have a candidate in place, and probably would not get one until the summer. They had no one to introduce to the voters: no one even to call the local papers and argue the Labour case.

‘What?’ I said ‘Why ever not?’

My hosts explained that bureaucratic manoeuvrings and political correctness at Labour’s regional office had paralysed the local party. It was telling them to have an all-woman shortlist, which was taking forever to arrange. I suggested they called Tom Watson or another national organiser. My companions shrugged. No one cared about them, they implied.

Parties that are steaming to power do not behave like this. They cover every angle, think of every eventuality, and deal with every objection a nervous voter may raise. In short, they have a restlessness and an urgency about them that Labour at the moment lacks, and not only in North London’s leafy suburbs.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close