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 Miliband announces Labour’s plan for older people

    Miliband announces Labour’s plan for older people

    Tomorrow (Friday March 6th) Ed Miliband will lay out Labour’s plans for older people – including how the party would protect pensions, retirement savings and free TV licences and bus passes. Miliband will make this announcement in Redcar (no.91 on their target seat list). While there he’ll say Labour would guarantee there would only be changes to Winter Fuel Payments for the richest 5% of pensioners but would keep TV licences and bus passes free for all who are of […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Why did Michael Sheen make his speech? It’s because the stakes are so high for our NHS

    Why did Michael Sheen make his speech? It’s because the stakes are so high for our NHS

    It’s been a great week for the internet, whether your bag is controversially coloured dresses, hitchhiking weasels, llamas re-enacting Thelma & Louise, or – as I believe Wales Online uncovered yesterday – an impossibly adorable puppy that bears an uncanny resemblance to Hitler. But for me, the internet’s best produce this week was Michael Sheen’s blistering speech on the NHS. I won’t repeat it here, but spend five minutes reading it if you haven’t already. It was like catching a […]

    Read more →
  • Comment The politics of justice – enforcing the minimum wage

    The politics of justice – enforcing the minimum wage

    I was astonished and genuinely outraged (as others have been) at the reported remarks of my MP Conservative George Freeman. When answering questions about the low enforcement and prosecutions for those not paying the minimum wage (under this government, there have only been 9, prosecutions and 162 named and shamed) Freeman talked about this criticism as “practising politics of envy”. Stella Creasy MP is absolutely right to call him out , saying this is “the politics of justice “. When […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Time for an alternative to the pro-austerity consensus

    Time for an alternative to the pro-austerity consensus

    The conventional assessment is that the UK economy is in reasonable shape. Indeed, there has been some growth in GDP over the last year or two and unemployment has fallen. A harsher view – developed in detail in a book being published in March 2015 by Random House called Call to Action, written by myself and former Labour shadow minister Bryan Gould – is to note that average living standards are still well below what they were in 2007. The […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Call on all Labour candidates to take local health and wellbeing boards to task over cold homes

    Call on all Labour candidates to take local health and wellbeing boards to task over cold homes

    For years fuel poverty campaigners have been calling on politicians to recognise the affects of cold and damp homes on the health of our most vulnerable households. As early as 2011, a report from the World Health Organisation proved that on average nearly 8,000 people die in the UK every year due to living in cold homes – three to four times the number of people who die on British roads and far worse than really cold countries like Germany […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit