Love him or hate him (and we love him), Tony Woodley tells it like it is. Speaking tonight alongside Steve Richards of the Indy and Jon Cruddas MP, Woodley gave a barnstorming speech at the Compass rally. But towards the end of the meeting he got a call. Sat on the platform in front of everyone he answered it and started speaking animatedly. After a bit of swearing, he grabbed the microphone and said, “Sorry everyone, I have got to go to compositing – the government is threatening to withdraw the entire Corporate Manslaughter Bill if we don’t withdraw our proposed amendments”. Cue stunned silence. Tony then exclaimed, “And I am going to tell them to bugger off!” – and off he went. Nothing like straight talking!
Update: The Compass rally also heard a very surprising speech from Steve Richards. The Indy’s Political Editor has previously been regarded as one of the more Blairite journalists, but he launched a stinging attack Alan Milburn and and unnamed others who he described as believing in objectively “centre-right” politics. He quoted Milburn’s telling recent statement that, “If we don’t do these things, then David Cameron will”, suggesting that Milburn had revealed the limits of his ambition – to simply do the same things that a Tory government would, only sooner. He suggested that Blairism had now reached its natural end point and there were big decisions ahead if we were to take forward genuine centre-left politics in Britain.
Also notable was a good contribution by Jon Cruddas. We recommend reading his pamphlet for the details, but perhaps the most telling thing he said was an aside – mentioning that his CLP had increased its membership almost every month for the last eighteen months. There can’t be many CLPs that can say the same, and it points to a campaigning record that the party could usefully draw wider lessons from.