“No-10-Speak for blatant electioneering in Labour’s deputy leadership contest”

The Secretary of State for Wales, etc, Peter Hain continues to campaign for his next job.. He’s been echoing Gordon Brown on the threat from certain Nationalists.. not the importance of the Union? ANYhoo.. it’s the interview in the New Statesman that caught my eye. Apparently, according to the journalists concerned, who actually got Peter angry [not a good idea, you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry – Ed], the campaign for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party “has been difficult to conduct for Hain, given the number of hours he has spent in the frantic search for a political agreement in Northern Ireland” [Indeed… – Ed] As the Guardian’s Michael White pointed out, 10 Downing St has noticed..From this morning’s Downing St press briefing

Peter Hain

Asked if the Prime Minister had any comments to make on Peter Hain’s article in the New Statesman, the PMOS said that as people knew, it was in a political context and therefore, he was not going to comment on it.

Asked about Peter Hain’s comments regarding the US, the PMOS said that the journalist knew the context in which those comments were made and he said that he did not want to talk about what was a political contest in any way, as it was not his role to do so. Cabinet collective responsibility remained, but equally, the PMOS said that he had to recognise that Cabinet Minister were also party members and they would make statements in that context.

Asked that when the PMOS had said that he could not speak about the New Statesman article, did that mean that everyone knew that he was running for the Deputy leadership, the PMOS said that the journalist was more able to make that judgement than he was.

Put that in the article, Peter Hain had said that it was important for the Government to maintain the “working relationship” with the US Administration, and was that all we were doing, the PMOS replied that the Prime Minister had spoken in the past about his view of the relationship with Europe and the US, and he did not in any way resile from that. The PMOS said that he would decline from the journalist’s “Gibbon-esque type of question to try and comment on something that he said he was not going to. The PMOS added that it was almost a huge compliment, that was only surpassed by the other well-known device: “The Oakley”!

Asked by Channel 4’s Political Editor if there was anything in Peter Hain’s interview that made us so sure that this was not just “high minded statesman-like intervention”, the PMOS replied that that was a “Gibbon-esque” question, and he would completely decline it. However, there was nothing like the real thing![added emphasis]

As Michael White pointed out, ‘political context’ is a recognised code

“Which is No-10-Speak for blatant electioneering in Labour’s deputy leadership contest.”

And Michael White isn’t even convinced that it’s a good tactic.

Here’s a brief paragraph of Peter Hain’s current view of the political situation, ie relevant to at least one of his actual briefs – from the New Statesman interview

He rarely mentions the Prime Minister if we don’t. So we ask him if he stands by an assertion, made during an NS interview two years ago, that Blair will be seen as a greater premier than even Attlee. He says he does, and points to Ulster as one of Blair’s lasting legacies. “When Tony steps down, one of his proudest achievements . . . is what we’ve achieved in Northern Ireland. I think we will see Martin McGuinness as deputy and Ian Paisley as First Minister on 26 March, [although] Northern Ireland’s politicians have an enormous capacity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”

And while Peter Hain followed his New Statesman interview by meeting a popular beat combo..

I’ll end with a few reminders of what Peter Hain et al will also have achieved.. with the Attorney-General’s inquiry still to report back.. and the unfinished business.. not to mention that Faustian pact we’ll be left with..