The Blairite cuckoos so despised by the trade union bosses started singing this evening. After learning that Unite general secretary Len McCluskey wants to ‘kick the New Labour cuckoos out of our nest’, MPs at the Progress rally in Manchester went on the defensive.
As the rally was in the Comedy Store, it was only appropriate that someone turn the infighting between the different wings of the party into a joke. Caroline Flint quipped:
‘Apparently I’m a cuckoo, so I’m going to start by talking about the dodos tonight.’
She paused, and then added:
‘The Liberal Democrats – who did you think I was talking about?’
Ben Bradshaw also received enthusiastic cheers from the audience when he said:
‘We don’t need to kick anyone out of this party. We don’t need to silence anybody. We actually need to welcome more people to our party and we need to welcome their voices.’
This is all rather awkward for Ed Miliband as he tries to forge an identity for himself on the conference stage this week. He already took on the union bosses when he appeared on Marr earlier today, but it will be interesting to see whether he brings up the party’s struggle over its own identity in his speech. Remember it’s only a year ago that Tony Blair’s name roused boos from the audience.