Politics, on a horse

Gordon! Get yourself a wagon and a poem.

Wonderful news from Slovakia today (thank you to the Slovak Spectator). It appears that the Slovak agriculture minister, Stanislav Becík, has taken to poetry and horse-drawn carts to spread his message to the people. Gordon Brown might be doing social work in Kirkcaldy, but is he travelling the length of the country in a modified gypsy caravan with political slogans on the side? No, he is not.

In the global ranking of Ludicrous Political Stunts, where David Cameron's wind turbine charges in at number one, Becík has made an extraordinary entry into second position. This is the stuff of greatness. And the poem! Oh, the poem. Here's a sample:

In the whole world, farmers are best,
No other caste can pass the test,
Keep them always in deep respect,
Your gratitude never defect.

Gordon! Come on! Write a poem. What about:

In the whole world, Brownies (also known as people strong-armed by Mandy) are best,
No other bunch can pass the test,
Keep them always in deep respect,
And please for God's sake support us otherwise everything will go tits up come the election and I'll have to go back to hanging out in Kircaldy all the time (a week was enough) and stop holding big international world-saving summits which will be rubbish.

(Yes, yes, I know, it doesn't quite scan yet. But come ON, Gordon, live a little.)

 

 

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

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Recess confidential: Labour's liquid party

Sniffing out the best stories from Westminster, including Showsec, soames, and Smith-side splits.

If you are celebrating in a brewery, don’t ask Labour to provide the drinks. Because of the party’s continuing failure to secure a security contractor for its Liverpool conference, it is still uncertain whether the gathering will take place at all. Since boycotting G4S, the usual supplier, over its links with Israeli prisons, Labour has struggled to find an alternative. Of the five firms approached, only one – Showsec – offered its services. But the company’s non-union-recognition policy is inhibiting an agreement. The GMB, the firm’s antagonist, has threatened to picket the conference if Showsec is awarded the contract. In lieu of a breakthrough, sources suggest two alternatives: the police (at a cost of £59.65 per constable per hour), or the suspension of the G4S boycott. “We’ll soon find out which the Corbynites dislike the least,” an MP jested. Another feared that the Tories’ attack lines will write themselves: “How can Labour be trusted with national security if it can’t organise its own?”

Farewell, then, to Respect. The left-wing party founded in 2004 and joined by George Galloway after his expulsion from Labour has officially deregistered itself.

“We support Corbyn’s Labour Party,” the former MP explained, urging his 522,000 Facebook followers to sign up. “The Labour Party does not belong to one man,” replied Jess Phillips MP, who also pointed out in the same tweet that Respect had “massively failed”. Galloway, who won 1.4 per cent of the vote in this year’s London mayoral election, insists that he is not seeking to return to Labour. But he would surely be welcomed by Jeremy Corbyn’s director of communications, Seumas Milne, whom he once described as his “closest friend”. “We have spoken almost daily for 30 years,” Galloway boasted.

After Young Labour’s national committee voted to endorse Corbyn, its members were aggrieved to learn that they would not be permitted to promote his candidacy unless Owen Smith was given equal treatment. The leader’s supporters curse more “dirty tricks” from the Smith-sympathetic party machine.

Word reaches your mole of a Smith-side split between the ex-shadow cabinet ministers Lisa Nandy and Lucy Powell. The former is said to be encouraging the challenger’s left-wing platform, while the latter believes that he should make a more centrist pitch. If, as expected, Smith is beaten by Corbyn, it’s not only the divisions between the leader and his opponents that will be worth watching.

Nicholas Soames, the Tory grandee, has been slimming down – so much so, that he was congratulated by Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, on his weight loss. “Soon I’ll be able to give you my old suits!” Soames told the similarly rotund Watson. 

Kevin Maguire is away

I'm a mole, innit.

This article first appeared in the 25 August 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Cameron: the legacy of a loser