Conference Diary: David Seymour

  • September 29, 2010 17:46
  • Katy Scholes

Journalist, and author of Why Vote? A guide for those who can't be bothered and Why Join a Trade Union? has been at Conference this week and here he offers his closing thoughts on the weeks events.

Thirty years of attending Labour conferences and this one has been as weird as they come. For much of the time, I couldn’t work out what it was all about.

The feeling in Manchester this week.was not of a political gathering but of a trade fair with nothing to sell so the people at it were wandering around bemused but still determined to have a good time.

There is genuine uncertainty and division of opinion about Ed Miliband, though I am a big fan and thought his speech was good in the circumstances (little time to prepare and he clearly needs media training).

Considering the Greek tragedy of David having the crown snatched from his lips (ahem!) by his younger brother, the reaction has been quite muted. It will pretty well pass by the time delegates leave Manchester and the media turns its attention to the Tories in Birmingham next week.

When you think that this is the first conference since Labour lost the election – a recipe in the past for intense bloodletting and open warfare – and saw the very narrow election of a surprising choice for leader, it has gone better than could be expected.

Ed Miliband’s most important task in the weeks ahead is to keep his party together and aiming its fire on the coalition rather than at its own ranks. He has made a reasonable start.

David's books Why Vote? and Why Join a Trade Union? are available to purchase here and here, each priced £6.99


Paul Richards cameos on Newsnight with Michael Crick...

  • September 29, 2010 15:16
  • Katy Scholes

...As does his new book Labour's Revival available now for £12.99

Newsnight last night saw Jeremy Paxman vetting Sadiq Khan in the aftermath of Ed Miliband's first speech as Labour leader, an interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and, in Paxo's own words, we witnessed Michael Crick sent out around Conference to "annoy people".

Paul Richards didn't appear annoyed though and was all too happy to answer Michael Crick's questions and voice his opinions on the speech: "It was either brilliant or stupid, and we'll only know that in subsequent months."

Paul Richards has been at the heart of the Labour Party for 20 years, he's uniquely placed to shed light on the current issues facing the Labour Party. So if you're contemplating Labour's future why not just let Paul do it for you? Buy your copy of the moderniser's manfiesto here.

Rachel Sylvester hits the nail on the head in her review of Labour's Revival "the new Labour leader should read this book". She's not wrong I tell you!

And don't worry. Ed's already got his copy. So has David actually, but let's not get into that.


Conference Diary: Francis Beckett

  • September 28, 2010 17:29
  • Katy Scholes

Biteback author, Francis Beckett is in Manchester this week for the Labour Conference, here's his take on the Miliband saga:

Stalin used to talk about socialism in one country, but Labour today seems to have opted for socialism in one family. Ed Milliband’s views are marginally to the left of his brother’s, but that’s not why they chose him. He may, as Neil Kinnock seems to be saying, have a more common touch than his brother, but that’s not it either. He is leader because he was not an MP when we went to war in Iraq.

The rejection of his brother is, quite simply, a way of putting two fingers up to Tony Blair. It’s a way of saying: we may have followed Blair for a decade and a half, but we hated his guts. Ed never had to make the career-destroying decision about whether to vote for war in Iraq or not. David voted for it; that’s why he’s not leader today. Harriet Harman voted for it; that’s why she’s so tainted by the Blair years that she sensibly decided not to run.

Robin Cook voted against it, which is why the most promising political career in the Blair generation petered out. John Denham voted against it, which is why he had to spend all those years in the wilderness – otherwise he’d have been in line for a pop at the leadership by now.

No one who voted for it would be acceptable. Anyone who voted against it had his career halted in its tracks by Blair. Ed can get the best of both worlds. He wasn’t there, and can claim he would have voted against it if he had been. So he’s got a chance – a slim one – of putting the grubby superficiality of the Blair years behind the Party. He’ll have to be an exceptional person to do it. I hope he is. We’ll find out.

Visit Francis Beckett's own website here. Or if you're keen to read more by Francis Beckett you can by a copy of his latest book, What Did the Baby Boomers Ever Do For Us? for £12.99 here.


We Ate All the Pies longlisted for Sports book prize!

  • September 28, 2010 14:18
  • Katy Scholes

We're absolutely delighted for Biteback author John Nicholson who has been longlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award for his fantastic We Ate All the Pies!

"Fit to grace the shelves of any sporting library", We Ate All the Pies joins twelve other sporting books (chosen from a staggering 130) on the longlist to contend for the world's longest established and most valuable literary sports-writing prize.

The shortlist will be announced on 26th October with the winner announced at a lunchtime reception at Waterstone’s Piccadilly (London), Europe’s largest bookstore, on Tuesday 30th November.

We posted an exclusive extract from We Ate All the Pies but why not read it in its full glory and buy it now.


Local Elections Handbook 2010 - Available Now

  • September 28, 2010 10:37
  • Katy Scholes

Now in its 26th year, it's that time again when the Local Government Chronicle Elections Centre publish their annual Local Elections Handbook.

The Local Elections Handbook 2010 is a detailed summary of voting and electoral statistics for 164 local authorities that went to the polls in 2010.

Compiled by the experts Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher - who brought you British Electoral Facts published by Biteback in November last year - this is your one-stop statistical guide to local government in 2010.

Get your copy for £42.50 here.