On the difference between the man and the ball…

I see Pete’s getting a fair old knocking for his ‘rough treatment’ of Peter Hain. Pete (our Pete that is, I wouldn’t dream of addressing the Secretary of State for Wales, etc in such casual terms) tells me it’s nothing personal: he’s just keeping an eye on the machinery of government. But, if you want real Hain bashing, try Simon Heffer in the Telegraph.

He wants to be deputy leader of the Labour Party. His website proudly announces that 32 MPs have declared their support for him.

The ruthless way in which he forced a deal in Northern Ireland – such as by threatening Unionists with the destruction of their beloved grammar schools if they didn’t team up with people like former IRA gangster Martin McGuinness – shows he will stop at nothing to rack up “successes” with which he can woo the Labour electorate. We can only assume that Mr Hain thought that promising to destroy the life-chances of thousands of children in Ulster was a fit price to be paid for him getting his own way, and moving another rung up the ladder.

Hearing his ridiculously florid oratory before the cameras as the deal was struck on Monday, one realised what a very high opinion he has of himself, and hopes others will have, too. His website invites us to join the debate about the future of Labour not, one imagines, because he has the slightest interest in what we have to say, but because pretending to “listen” and to be seen as “bringing people together” – whether in Northern Ireland or in the even bloodier battleground of the Labour Party – is crucial to the image of a modern politician.

Obsessed with image, and with himself as an agent of political “change”, he has a film on his website in which the actor Richard Wilson (you know – “I don’t beleeeeeve it”) comes out in support of him for deputy leader. Every button that must be pressed to oil up to significant current pressure groups is, indeed, pressed: Mr Hain is big on sustainable communities and all environmental concerns. All these things – Ulster, his Welsh constituency, his carbon-reduction mania, his sycophantic support of Gordon Brown – are but crutches on which he trusts he will speed ahead of Labour’s other moral and political cripples in the race to be the next prime minister’s chief cypher.

Hmmm… another Tory who wants Milliband to be next PM