Posts Tagged ‘Charlie Whelan’

Charlie Whelan should holster his guns and let the posse ride on, says Dan Hodges

12/10/2010, 09:00:25 AM

Two weeks ago Charlie Whelan savoured his greatest triumph. Unite’s pistol-packing political director strained every sinew and bicep of union muscle as Ed Miliband was carried triumphantly across the finishing line. The crowd roared. And at that point our hero was supposed to hang up his six shooters, saddle up his horse, and gallop into the sunset.

It didn’t happen that way. Instead, Charlie wheeled his steed, came barreling down main street, and started shooting up the town.

“Charlie Whelan: the puppet master who ‘won it for Ed’” – the Sunday Telegraph; “Charlie Whelan launches attack on biggest names in Labour party” – the Guardian; “I’m not going to go around crowing. But it was clear that the union vote turned out for Ed Miliband.” – the Times.

To many people, there’s no mystery to answer. “Charlie’s just being Charlie”, said one journalist, “what you get is what’s on the tin”. “It’s all about his book”, says another, “he just wants to sell more than Peter”. (more…)

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Sunday News Review

03/10/2010, 07:55:39 AM

Whelan wot won it?

Asked to define himself by the BBC’s James Naughtie last week, Charlie Whelan paused for a second before replying. “Old generation – time to move on”. If Mr Whelan, 56, spin doctor for Gordon Brown-turned-trade union political officer, really does “move on”, spending more time salmon fishing beside the banks of his beloved River Spey, and even possibly writing a book, he will do so having brought off an extraordinary political achievement. – Telegraph.


That will be even more difficult. Here in Wales, plenty of party members, AMs and MPs cheered Ed’s victory – he polled a majority here. Hooray, they cry! Here’s the man who will take Labour back to its old-fashioned left-wing roots! And they may be right. But here’s something they forgot: When they were like that, they were massively electorally unsuccessful, getting thumped by the Tories time after time. – Wales Online.

If he gets it right, and quickly, the Labour Party will forget his slim margin of victory and the current unease that they may have chosen the wrong brother. If he gets it wrong, Ed Miliband will become another Michael Foot, a new-generation Kinnock, another Hague or, perhaps worst of all, a regenerated Iain Duncan Smith. – Herald Scotland.

The other brother

Much has been made of what the tumultuous past seven days tell us about the man who lost the crown.Principled, dignified and gracious, yes, but it also reinforces the ­impression that perhaps David Miliband lacks the political cunning and steel needed to reach the very top. – Mirror.

Lord Fired!

Lord Sugar, back in The Apprentice on Wednesday, revealed that the Prime Minister’s aides gave him the news just after the election. “After the election No 10 got in touch and told me that my services were no longer required,” he said. – Mirror.

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Leadership is not a game, says Dan Hodges

01/10/2010, 09:43:19 AM

If a week is a long time in politics, then at Labour party conference it’s a lifetime. Remember where we came in. Excited. Hopeful. Enthused. And how we leave. Fractious. Edgy. Uncertain.

It was not supposed to be like this. An emboldened party, united behind its new leader, was meant to stride out, strong in mind and purpose, to take the fight to the government. Instead, we have hit a wall. Political reality has intruded. This was the week we finally realised that the 2010 general election had been lost.

For many of us – dare I say, those if us who are part of Generation Ed – politics has been a long, yet steady, march towards the summit. Kinnock, Smith, Blair and even Brown. All were part of a clear evolutionary process. They represented order. Now, with the election of Ed Miliband, the natural order has been disturbed.

This is not, of itself a negative. It needed something to  jolt us  out of our post election stupor. We have been. Ed’s victory has caused a convulsion.

On Saturday we were a movement in denial. The build up to the leadership announcement was spectacularly misjudged. The video of our achievements in office seemed to taunt the public; ‘See what you’re throwing away. You’ll be sorry’. Gordon’s speech seemed to taunt us all; ‘I will be loyal. Had you been loyal, we wouldn’t be in this mess’. (more…)

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Conference diary IV: beef

29/09/2010, 12:21:40 PM

As the Miliband era dawns, and shadow cabinet nominations close today, a new and important figure is born in British politics.

The new leader’s victorious and vindicated campaign manager, Sadiq Khan, swept through Manchester’s echoing halls with an entourage the size of Tooting Bec. He was what the late Biggie Smalls used to call “rolling thirty deep”. (In truth, Uncut counted a mere nine flunkeys riding his slipstream, but the figure he cut was impressive).

A slightly crumpled dresser, fat chains and a pimp cane may not come easy to the man who would be shadow home secretary. But these are the ways he must master if he is to match his entourage and justify his new i/d: Sadiq Diddy.

* * *

At the start of the week, the conference rumour mill had it that Joe Irvin, former political secretary to Gordon Brown, was about to replace Charlie Whelan as Unite’s chief fixer and finagler.

Joe has been denying it to everyone who’ll listen.

“It’s rubbish. Pure speculation”, he told Uncut last night.

Most people assume that he’s just saying that, because nothing has been signed and he is a professional.

Better informed people say that he’s telling the truth. The deal is off. And, for the moment at least, Charlie stays.

The reasons are labyrinthine, and for another day.

* * *

Uncut sallies forth to the defence fringe, where tempers flare. Eric Joyce attacks Bob Ainsworth and David Miliband for “doing nothing” on defence.

Bob shoots back: “I don’t remember you coming up with any ideas when we were in government”.

Eric retorts: “Are you going to take cheap shots or are you going to come up with a Labour policy on defence”.

Gentlemen, please. You can’t fight in here. This is the war debate.

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Conference diary II: Sunday night and Monday morning

27/09/2010, 11:00:04 AM

As Ed Miliband prepares for the speech of his life tomorrow, Uncut understands that he has  received support from a surprising quarter. Team Ed has asked for – and been granted – a copy of the speech David had prepared in the event of his own victory. Uncut assumes that, as we write, Ed’s wordsmiths are beavering away, frantically translating David’s words into fluent human.

Good luck guys. And be grateful you didn’t just beat John Prescott.

* * *

Uncut bows to none in our admiration for that legendary storm-trooper of spin, Charlie Wheelan. But we understand that Charlie’s claim to have personally switched half a dozen MPs to Ed Miliband in the final days of the campaign may be something of a smoke screen. Uncut has it on good authority that it was not Charlie, but Gordon Brown himself, who was hitting the phones for Ed in the last fortnight of polling. Having kept a dignified distance from proceedings, the interventions of Tony Bair and Peter Mandelson are believed to been the spur Gordon needed to enter the fray.

* * *

Ed Miliband leader. Ed Balls shadow chancellor. Nick Brown Chief Whip. Will reports of the death of the Brownites turn out to have been exaggerated?

* * *

While we at Unuct retain our affection for Charlie, the same cannot be said of some of his brothers in the movement. Two senior trade unions officials we spoke to yesterday were slightly miffed at the suggestion that CW single-handedly won it for their man.

“What’s Charlie doing”? asked one. “He’s out of control”.

“You know what he’s doing”, replied the other: “He’s got a book to plug”.

Too true. And Uncut expects a corker.

* * *

As Ed Miliband continues his victory tour, the intense figure of Mike Joslin can be seen ploughing the road as point man. Uncut has two words of advice for this intrepid staffer: slow down. You’ll get there. And smile. You’re doing a great job, and you’ve won. Enjoy it.

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Wednesday News Review

15/09/2010, 07:16:00 AM

Closest since 2007

Factor in the usual caveats about polling so soon after a change of government, but the latest Sun/YouGov poll is still pretty eyecatching. It has the Tories on 40 percent, Labour on 39 and the Lib Dems on 12 – the smallest gap between the two main parties since the election-that-never-was in October 2007. Here’s a graph of the the two parties’ positions since the beginnning of the general election campaign:

The Spectator

David twice as popular

David Miliband is the choice of Labour voters to be the next leader of the party, according to a ComRes survey for The Independent. He is more than twice as popular as his nearest rival, his younger brother Ed, when Labour supporters are asked to name their preferred candidate; who would make the best leader of the opposition; the best prime minister and have the best chance of leading Labour back to power. The poll, conducted among more than 1,500 people who have voted Labour at least once since 1992, found that David Miliband was also the most likely of the five Labour leadership candidates to win over floating voters and those people who backed Labour in 2005 but switched to the Liberal Democrats or Conservative Party this year. – The Independent


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Saturday News Review

14/08/2010, 09:01:47 AM

Whelan v. Mandelson


In his first major newspaper interview since new Labour came to power in 1997, Whelan gives an explosive insider’s account of the civil war that helped destroy the Labour government. In a blistering attack on Mandelson, he says the man who Brown had controversially recalled to the Cabinet after the disgrace of being twice sacked by Blair, actually lost the Labour Party votes because of his betrayal of the PM, and was responsible for a culture of defeatism that blighted Labour’s campaign. – The Mail.

Williams at 80

Shirley Williams has just turned 80. Yes, there was a little birthday party, and lunch with her daughter, but nothing more. “That’s enough to be going on with, thank you,” she says. There’s no time to waste for Baroness Williams of Crosby, now that her party’s finally got a share of government. – The Guardian.

Ed: likes seaside

Mili-by the seaside

Ed Miliband is speaking to me from the last days of his holiday in Cornwall, writes Krishnan Guru-Murthy. Like so many politicians in the new age of austerity he has found the English seaside rather delightful. He is a convert, he says, to British holidays. – Channel 4.

The race

Gazing at what passes for the Opposition, are we supposed to laugh, cry, weep with mirth or smile bravely through the tears? This may be a rhetorical question. With the Labour Party uncertain whether to style itself as tear-jerking soap opera or broad-brush satirical sitcom, it is asking too much of the rest of us to decide for it. – Telegraph.

Hardie remembered

He’s been called Labour’s greatest hero and the party’s most inspirational leader but could Keir Hardie also be in danger of being forgotten?
Some admirers of the founder of the Labour Party believe so and will tomorrow, on the anniversary of his birth, launch a society to promote his life and work across the generations. – The Herald.

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The man we loved to blame – Dan Hodges defends Peter Mandelson

14/07/2010, 10:11:12 AM

Soon after England’s  penalty loss to Germany in Euro ’96, (remember the days when we could still take people to penalties), a pizza advert appeared featuring Stuart Pearce, Chris Waddle and Gareth Southgate. Waddle and Pearce, who had missed similar penalty attempts during the 1990 World Cup, were seen coaching Southgate in how to come to terms with his own career-defining failure. The advert rebound as spectacularly as  the Aston Villa defender’s spot kick, with many criticising his tasteless attempt to cash in during a period of national trauma.

Gareth Southgate and Peter Mandelson are not two men who naturally meld in the consciousness. But as I watched Peter advertising his new memoirs whilst reclining in a deep leather chair, affecting the air of a Victorian gentleman successfully acquitted of poisoning his wealthy wife, meld they did. (more…)

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