I have just watched David Dimbleby parade the six candidates for the post of deputy leader of the Labour party. Distressing to me though it is to have to say this, I think I would vote for Hazel Blears if I had a vote.
She seems the only one willing to accept – and articulate the thought – that New Labour might have made the odd mistake along the line. Admittedly, she expressed this largely in terms of messages not properly communicated rather than actual failures, but what she said, and perhaps more importantly, the way she said it, seemed to imply a genuine wish to do better.
She is a ghastly little woman, certainly, but her performance amplified a view I reluctantly crawled towards when she was brave enough to appear outside her local hospital to protest against whatever budget cut it was then facing. That incident did not do much for collective responsibility, but it was brave, nevertheless, as was her support for Margaret Hodge over the BNP / homes for foreigners issue.
Like the rest, she uses Iraq as a distraction from domestic issues. They can all trot out their mea culpas over Iraq and, usually, this successfully diverts attention from the rest – crime, education, the NHS, the tax burden, pensions and the waste of money, time and opportunity which the last decade has seen. Blears was, however, willing to accept expressly that people feel taxed enough, and that the criminal justice changes had not found an appreciative audience, and (whilst not accepting that any legislation had been wrong) at least agreeing that it might be an idea to focus just a little on implementing it all properly.
Perhaps it was just that the rest impressed less. Eager little Harriet Harman like a spaniel looking for treats. Alan Johnson drowning us in statistics as a substitute for answering questions (where did he get that idea from?). Peter Hain mouthing clap-trap and suffering somewhat from the appearance earlier on our screens of his doppleganger Michael Barrymore on a murder charge. The others – remind me, who were they?