No longer living next door to Alice

by Stephen Tall on April 18, 2009

Here’s a confession for you – I once voted for Alice Mahon, the veteran former Labour MP who has today announced her resignation of her party membership after 50 years.

It was back in the mid-1990s, when I was a youthful Labour member, who had taken too much to heart George Bernard Shaw’s adage that anyone who isn’t a socialist by the age of 25 has no heart (I’ve also lived up to the mirror half of the quote: “if one is over 25 and still a socialist he has no head”). Alice was standing for Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee on the left-wing Campaign Committee slate – so she got my vote, simple as that. I like to think I’ve moved on a but since then, that I now judge politicians as individuals not simply as labels.

In his post, The Importance of Alice Mahon, Tory blogger Iain Dale tries to big-up Alice’s resignation, equating it to the defections of sitting MPs the Tories suffered during the Major years. I’m not convinced, not least because she hasn’t taken the further, ultimate step of ‘betrayal’ – the bit loyalist members find unforgivable – and joined another party. Reading the Yorkshire Post’s article, which broke the story, her reasons seem to be a mix of the personal and political familiar to most resignations.

(She also seems to be under a bit of a misapprehension of the chronology of ‘Smeargate’: “My stepdaughter Rachel said to me: ‘How could they do that to people like David Cameron and his wife Samantha when they had recently lost their son Ivan? What kind of people think it would be a good idea to smear them?’ “I was sickened by that – that is not the Labour Party that I joined all those years ago.” Damian McBride’s emails of course pre-date the death of Ivan by a couple of months. Not that that makes them any better, of course.)

Yet it is telling that such a doughty Labour supporter, a woman who tolerated Tony Blair’s premiership and her party’s decision to embark on a war against Iraq, has finally cut her ties with the party during Gordon Brown’s leadership. During his decade of brooding waiting, Mr Brown constantly hinted his left-ist Real Labour credentials – not out of belief, but simply to position himself as the heir-presumptive. It is hardly surprising that those Labour members who clung on in the hope of something better, more authentic, are now doubly disappointed.

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Marvellous title, Stephen.Reminds me of when I had hair. I’m surprised someone as youthful as your good self remembers it.

by Paul Walter on April 18, 2009 at 1:16 pm. Reply #


by Jennie on April 18, 2009 at 1:17 pm. Reply #

Alice? Alice? Who the **** is Alice?

by Paul Walter on April 18, 2009 at 1:25 pm. Reply #

Well if it gets rid of “Badger, badger, badger…” 🙂

by Hywel on April 18, 2009 at 1:48 pm. Reply #

There was I thinking the reference was to the Ellen Burstyn/Martin Scorsese movie. 🙂

Guido has “decent Labour against New Labour” at the foot of his report. ISTR Ms Mahon not being quite so decent, particularly towards us, in her heyday.

by Frank H Little on April 18, 2009 at 3:02 pm. Reply #

And of course front page news in her local paper today is…

Our group leader complaining about the wheelie bins. While us getting the front page is good, gotta love the parochialism of the Halifax Courier, someone locally well known leaving Labour would require thought and analysis, it’ll have electoral implications and might rock the cosy little boat they’ve got.

Her successor must be spitting blood. Poor Linda, can’t get anything right, even who to have as a predecessor…

by MatGB on April 18, 2009 at 4:23 pm. Reply #

A Tory victory in Halifax would make another Labour majority very unlikely, however if Labour also lost Keighley a Tory majority is probable. The Lib Dems should be doing what they can to help the Tories win Halifax; Labour to hold Keighley and winning for themselves in Rochdale and Bradford East.

by Hugh on April 19, 2009 at 1:34 am. Reply #

“The Lib Dems should be doing what they can to help the Tories win Halifax; Labour to hold Keighley and winning for themselves in Rochdale and Bradford East.”

After which we head to Milliways for breakfast 🙂

How exactly do we exercise this omnipotent power to decide who wins particular seats

by Hywel on April 19, 2009 at 11:02 am. Reply #

No, we’re Liberal Democrats. We’re not trying to help non-LibDems to win anything. Keighley is a barometer seat, not a “being a Liberal Democrat does not count here” seat.

Keighley Liberal Democrats

by Judith Brooksbank on June 10, 2009 at 5:47 pm. Reply #

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