Things can get even better

February 14, 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 Video Burnham v Wark: who won the battle of Newsnight?

    Burnham v Wark: who won the battle of Newsnight?

    It has been one of the main political stories throughout the day, despite going on telly at about 11 o’clock last night. The clash between Newsnight’s Kirsty Wark and Andy Burnham over the NHS on Newsnight last night was one to remember: the increasing interruptions led to a bit of a barney during the 10 minute interview. But who won? Judge for yourselves…

    Read more →
  • News Scotland Nick Clegg can’t remember name of Lib Dem candidate in seat they’ve held since 1983

    Nick Clegg can’t remember name of Lib Dem candidate in seat they’ve held since 1983

    We knew it would happen eventually, but 99 days before the election? At some point during every election, a party leader forgets the name of one of their candidates when speaking to the local press. Nick Clegg may have set a new record by fumbling up a full 12 weeks before voters go the polls. In an interview with the Aberdeen-based Press and Journal, the Deputy PM referred to the Lib Dem candidate for Gordon as “Justine” Jardine. Her name, […]

    Read more →
  • News Labour could gain more support with anti-austerity message, poll finds

    Labour could gain more support with anti-austerity message, poll finds

    YouGov’s polling for the Times Red Box looks like it could have the keys to Labour’s election success. Or, at the very least, an indicator of what gain us a little more support. They’ve done this by probing three particular areas – austerity big business and international relations – to see what policies would garner Labour the most support. The first and arguably most topical question given anti-austerity party Syriza’s electoral success in Greece on Sunday is what direction those […]

    Read more →
  • News Full text: Labour’s NHS motion in the Commons today

    Full text: Labour’s NHS motion in the Commons today

    Labour are holding an Opposition Day debate on NHS funding today (it’s happening right now in fact: you can watch it here). Shadow Chief Secretary to Treasury Chris Leslie is leading the debate for Labour, who before the debate began said that the health service was “in crisis” and “cannot survive another five years of David Cameron.” The full text of Labour’s motion today is: That this House notes comments from leading doctors and nurses that the NHS is in […]

    Read more →
  • Comment PMQs Verdict: It’s two blokes shouting at each other, what’s that got to do with my life?

    PMQs Verdict: It’s two blokes shouting at each other, what’s that got to do with my life?

    Last week Ed Miliband was quite candid about PMQs, when he said: “Watching me and David Cameron shout at each other once a week on Prime Minister’s Questions isn’t very enlightening for anybody, let’s be frank about it. It probably massively puts people off politics if they’re watching it because they think: ‘It’s two blokes shouting at each other, what’s that got to do with my life?’” This week Miliband and Cameron headed to the chamber to prove how accurate […]

    Read more →