Monday, 15 September 2008

Some speculation

At times like this, with rumblings as to what is happening behind closed doors within the Labour Party, one would think the blogosphere would come into its own. But instead I'm struck by just how inaccurate some of the speculation is. One blog cites Bob Marshall Andrews as a rebel who is about to declare his hand - and yet he was on television only a couple of weeks ago, staunchly defending the PM's leadership (and he's hardly someone who would feel under any obligation to do so unless he meant it). Guido has Kelvin Hopkins listed as a 'coded' rebel. Speaking as Kelvin's ex-constituency chair (actually, ex-constituency secretary too), I can categorically state that Kelvin, as the second most rebellious MP in Parliament (after John McDonnell) has never been 'coded' about anything when it comes to his view on the leadership. No doubt he fantasises about a Campaign Group takeover, but likely to join forces with Blairite ex-ministers? No way.

Some of the speculation about a possible reshuffle is similarly off-beam. Ruth Kelly for Chief Whip? (That was on LabourHome, I think). So she's going to be steering the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill through its final, controversial stages in Parliament, is she?

Just over a year ago the Labour Party was in Bournemouth for its annual Conference. Labour was riding high in the polls and speculation about a snap General Election had been mounting all week. At the party on the final night, as delegates and MPs danced badly to a rather dodgy covers band, the rumour spread like wildfire that at least a dozen senior Tories - including MPs and peers - were going to announce their defection to Labour at the start of Tory Conference the following week. This was, we were assured, 'on good authority', from 'reliable sources'. Of course, it didn't happen - and we all know what happened at Tory conference.

It serves as a reminder that most speculation ought to be taken with a very hefty pinch of salt.

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