How to organise a political stag night

by Sunder Katwala

Everybody loves a good wedding (except, obviously, for those objecting to the celebrations last Friday on grounds of republicanism, public expense or patriarchy).

So, when tomorrow’s knocking-up of the vote is done, and the AV hurly-burly is gone, Labour thoughts will naturally turn to the happy prospect of the union of Ed and Justine.

There will doubtless be much blue Labour bunting hung out by Maurice Glasman’s traditionalist band to celebrate the Labour leader’s conversion to the cause of matrimony.

Less happily, Ed also chose the holiday period, while shooting a few frames of pool with Mr Murdoch’s man from the Sun, to not only kill off “Red Ed”, but also to deliver a pointed snub to his allies in the Fabian Society. (He also took the up the offer to pose with the paper. Tony Blair did so with the headline “the Sun Backs Blair”. “Rooney hooker bedded married actor” may be less on message.)

As the Sun reported:

“Ed is finally marrying Justine Thornton, his long-term partner and mother of his two young sons in May. All Ed let slip was: ‘I’m not going to tell you about my stag. But it won’t be two Fabian Society lectures and half a pint of beer, as somebody in Westminster suggested'”.

Naturally, we’re disappointed by the rebuff, which is retribution for the unfortunate leak of the plans to Mr Patrick Wintour of the Guardian, who had included them in his snarky celebration of the engagement. Conspiracy theorists may naturally see this, like Prince William’s return to work this week, as simply a clever ruse to put the media off the scent.

So preparations continue apace. We considered employing Mr Guido Fawkes as a consultant, following his twitter riposte, suggesting we might seize the opportunity to radically reorientate the brand.

“Go with the flow and get a couple of strippers in to the next seminar”.

A Fabian stag night fit for a party leader might more naturally take the form of a policy review “input seminar”, with Mr Liam Byne in the chair on what modern social democrats have to say about love and marriage, and the contribution that this could make to the new left-wing politics of “faith, flag and family”.

Indeed, my prolific Fabian colleague, Tim Horton, has already provided us with a perhaps more social democratic text, in his excellent essay for our family values special issue on why and how Labour should be the party of the family (PDF).

Much of Labour and liberal-left is pro-gay marriage, having been happily proud to introduce civil partnerships into law. It might just be the time for the modern liberal-left to go the whole hog and celebrate the more conventional version as well.

However, it would be partisan and unfair not to acknowledge that the political stag night can be found across other political traditions too.

How many Liberal Democrats might find solace, at this undoubtedly difficult time, by deciding which moment of by-election nostalgia most merits the homage of a stag night celebration – Orpington, Eastbourne or Brent East, for example? Centrist travel agents do report that bookings for Barnsley have, however, fallen off rather sharply.

It would certainly be sad to think that this never happens. The ideological right can certainly cite impressive verified examples of commitment to making the personal political, as Mr Daniel Hannan reminded us in his warm tribute to his friend, ally and stag night organiser, Tory MP Mr Mark Reckless for helping to begin his love affair with Iceland and its economic miracle.

I spent my stag-night in Reykjavik. (My best man, Mark Reckless, now the Conservative candidate for Rochester and Strood, was determined that we should celebrate Iceland’s status outside the EU. In fact, he wanted to go on a pilgrimage to Greenland, the only territory actually to have seceded, but it was beyond our price range).

As for a honeymoon, since the Webbs infamously spent theirs studying Irish trade unions in Dublin, we think that is best left to Ed and Justine.

Sunder Katwala is general secretary of the fabian society. He blogs his personal views – read more at

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One Response to “How to organise a political stag night”

  1. Robert says:

    So Blue Labour wins or is that purple labour, may as well vote Tory and be done with it, I’ve had enough.

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