Things can get even better

14th February, 2013 10:54 am

It really is great news that the Eastleigh Labour Party has selected John O’Farrell as their candidate at the upcoming by-election. They couldn’t have made a better choice.

It was 30 years ago when John asked if I could do with any voluntary help in the House of Commons; at the time he was an active member of the Battersea Labour party. I quickly realised how lucky I was to have his help.

Most people today know John for his books and his cutting sense of humour, but back then I saw first-hand how serious and effective a politician he was. His day to day advice was invaluable. I was a junior front bencher at the time, dealing with a Bill on fire safety. I sent John off to talk to the Fire Brigades Union, The Tailors and Garment Workers, and the Fire Service. He came back with four amendments for Report stage, three of which were accepted. A real success!

John once stood as a candidate for Wandsworth Council, in an unwinnable ward. He was great on the doorstep and on one occasion disconcerted someone who asked why he should vote for him. John’s quick answer was “because I am the nicest of the candidates”. True, but he then went on to put the political case for Labour.

After I lost my parliamentary seat, John went on to earn his living in the media, and through his writing. I once asked where he got the ideas from for the ‘Spitting Image’ programmes he worked on, which featured lots of politicians – and not always in a good light. John’s reply was that he remembered many of them from when they came into my office at Westminster, which I shared with Frank Dobson.

Above all, John is a serious and committed politician. He believes in our values and has a good sense of how we should engage with the voters. I feel very proud to be his friend, and to have known him for many years. John’s book Things Can Only Get Better describes his early political life and includes much about the Battersea Labour Party. It is still a great read today.

John will really shake up this by-election, and he is already making an impact. Both of the Coalition parties is desperate to win the seat but, with John in place and our party resurgent in the polls, this contest is no longer a two-horse race. To deliver a sensational win however, party members must get down to Eastleigh and give our brilliant candidate the support he deserves.

Lord Alf Dubs is a backbench Labour Peer and the former MP for Battersea. This piece was first posted on the Labour Lords blog

Latest

  • News Polling Labour have ‘best policies’ on NHS, education, immigration and benefits, poll suggests

    Labour have ‘best policies’ on NHS, education, immigration and benefits, poll suggests

    Labour lead on four of the six policy areas considered most important by voters, according to latest polling. Ipsos MORI research for the Evening Standard show that on the topics of healthcare/NHS/hospitals, education and schools, asylum and immigration, and benefits Labour are judged to have better policies than the Conservatives, UKIP or the Lib Dems. However, on managing the economy and taxation, the Tories still hold a lead. Health is by far the most important issue for voters, with 47% considering […]

    Read more →
  • News “David Cameron is now a mortal danger to the NHS” – read the full text of Miliband’s NHS speech

    “David Cameron is now a mortal danger to the NHS” – read the full text of Miliband’s NHS speech

    t is great to be here with you at Manchester Metropolitan University. What a fantastic turn-out. And I particularly want to thank you for having us on exam day. And I want to thank John Brookes the Vice Chancellor here at the University. John’s going to be retiring in May after 10 years, so let’s pay tribute to him today. And let’s also pay tribute to all of the brilliant student nurses here today who are training to work in […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Scotland Will The Sun just say anything to stop people voting Labour? Part Two

    Will The Sun just say anything to stop people voting Labour? Part Two

    We’ve already covered Murdoch’s reported orders that The Sun should do whatever they can to stop Miliband winning, but the gap between today’s Sun in Scotland and the one on sale in the rest of the UK is absolutely amazing. It’s like they’ve forgotten that the internet exist, and people can compare the two. Especially since we’ve seen this happen less than a month ago. Here’s the front page of today’s Scottish Sun – where they seem pretty positive about […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured This election campaign has raised questions about the Conservatives’ fitness to govern

    This election campaign has raised questions about the Conservatives’ fitness to govern

    Elections are about competence. And this one is no different. People want to know the ability of leaders and their parties to take reasonable and balanced decisions. In normal circumstances, this is to the benefit of the incumbent given that they have a track record and extreme events such as, say, a global financial crisis are relatively rare. This election takes place in an environment where there are a series of warning signs- on NHS performance, the benefits system, an […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Murdoch reportedly “berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband”

    Murdoch reportedly “berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband”

    The Sun have never been fans of Ed Miliband. This was only exacerbated by his decision to attack Rupert Murdoch over phone hacking (leading indirectly to the closure of the News of the World), backing the Leveson inquiry, announcing plans to restrict media ownership and apologising for posing with a copy of The Sun. But it’s fair to say that The Sun never liked Miliband anyway, and after viciously turning on Labour during the 2010 election campaign (anyone remember Gordon […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit