Ted Heath goes everywhere

How a newstatesman.com exclusive by Tory Brian Coleman about Ted Heath cottaging got picked up every

A few days ago a US Magazine decided to out a couple of well known Americans. Outing's been a contentious issue for a number of years now here in Britain so I asked Peter Tatchell of Outrage and Conservative politician Brian Coleman to put their views.

Tatchell is well known for his stance on queer rights and has, in the past, outed people whom he feels have been hypocritical. You can read his case by clicking here.

Openly gay politician Coleman meanwhile was to argue that people in the public eye were entitled to a private life. In the course of making his case he outed a couple of former colleagues (deleted for legal reasons), dropped in a tiny aside about George Michael (ditto) and then went on to say that former Tory PM Ted Heath used to go cruising.

It was one of those stories that got picked up everywhere - which as you can imagine was quite pleasing from where I sit.

It's only right therefore that I thank Brian for deciding to launch his bid to become the Tory candidate for London Mayor on this website. More from him later I suspect...

There's been plenty of other stuff going on here at Terminal House - where newstatesman.com is based. We've had articles from Kate Hudson, the chairwoman of CND and from Elijah Zarwan of Human Rights Watch.

We've had children from all over the world writing about Global Education Action Week

Plus incisive commentary on the French elections on Le Blog and our British version, Election 2007, is up now too. It's written by journalists, politicians, academics and New Statesman readers from across the UK. It's a comprehensive guide to the key battles on 3 May and we'll have multiple daily updates from Scotland, Wales and the English regions.

You can't have missed coverage of Boris Yeltsin's passing but you may have missed this quote:

The dead president's former prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin apparently said: "We hoped for the best, but things turned out as usual."

Well Viktor let's face it, you don't get immortal on that quantity of vodka...

Ben Davies trained as a journalist after taking most of the 1990s off. Prior to joining the New Statesman he spent five years working as a politics reporter for the BBC News website. He lives in North London.
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How Labour risks becoming a party without a country

Without establishing the role of Labour in modern Britain, the party is unlikely ever to govern again.

“In my time of dying, want nobody to mourn

All I want for you to do is take my body home”

- Blind Willie Johnson

The Conservative Party is preparing itself for a bloody civil war. Conservative MPs will tell anyone who wants to know (Labour MPs and journalists included) that there are 100 Conservative MPs sitting on letters calling for a leadership contest. When? Whenever they want to. This impending war has many reasons: ancient feuds, bad blood, personal spite and enmity, thwarted ambition, and of course, the European Union.

Fundamentally, at the heart of the Tory war over the European Union is the vexed question of ‘What is Britain’s place in the World?’ That this question remains unanswered a quarter of a century after it first decimated the Conservative Party is not a sign that the Party is incapable of answering the question, but that it has no settled view on what the correct answer should be.

The war persists because the truth is that there is no compromise solution. The two competing answers are binary opposites: internationalist or insular nationalist, co-habitation is an impossibility.

The Tories, in any event, are prepared to keep on asking this question, seemingly to the point of destruction. For the most part, Labour has answered this question: Britain will succeed as an outward looking, internationalist state. The equally important question facing the Labour Party is ‘What is the place of the Labour Party in modern Britain?’ Without answering this question, Labour is unlikely to govern ever again and in contrast to the Tories, Labour has so far refused to acknowledge that such a question is being asked of it by the people it was founded to serve. At its heart, this is a question about England and the rapidly changing nature of the United Kingdom.

In the wake of the 2016 elections, the approach that Labour needs to take with regard to the ‘English question’ is more important than ever before. With Scotland out of reach for at least a generation (assuming it remains within the United Kingdom) and with Labour’s share of the vote falling back in Wales in the face of strong challenges from Plaid Cymru and UKIP, Labour will need to rely upon winning vast swathes of England if we are to form a government in 2020.

In a new book published this week, Labour’s Identity Crisis, Tristram Hunt has brought together Labour MPs, activists and parliamentary candidates from the 2015 general election to explore the challenges facing Labour in England and how the party should address these, not purely as an electoral device, but as a matter of principle.

My contribution to the book was inspired by Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti. The track list reads like the score for a musical tragedy based upon the Labour Party from 2010 onwards: In My Time of Dying, Trampled Underfoot, Sick Again, Ten Years Gone. 

Continued Labour introspection is increasingly tiresome for the political commentariat – even boring – and Labour’s Identity Crisis is a genuinely exciting attempt to swinge through this inertia. As well as exploring our most recent failure, the book attempts to chart the course towards the next Labour victory: political cartography at its most urgent.

This collection of essays represents an overdue effort to answer the question that the Party has sought to sidestep for too long.  In the run up to 2020, as the United Kingdom continues to atomise, the Labour Party must have an ambitious, compelling vision for England, or else risks becoming a party without a country.

Jamie Reed is Labour MP for Copeland.