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Voting for the oddballs
"It was a kick against the system," says Owen, the leader of the independent group. Owen is a former Labour councillor who was deselected because "he wouldn't toe the line" and has stood and won as an independent ever since. He puts the victories down partly to a local revolt against the history of one-party rule in a city where Labour once held all the seats. "It was a reaction against the old-boy network and everything that was going on behind closed doors. Not enough people knew what was going on. They wanted things opened up," he says. And he puts the victories down partly to a general disaffection with Labour. "They were angry about the pensions in particular but also the general arrogance of them in parliament. Most, but by no means all, of our support comes from former Labour voters."
Geoffrey Robinson defends himself
Robinson sold it for serialisation to the newspaper most hostile to the Labour party, the Daily Mail , which splashed his story. The rest of the press followed suit. The upshot was that the cabinet duly appeared as a sleazy, bickering, money-grabbing bunch of prima donnas. This coverage, says Robinson, will help not only the prime minister and Mandelson, but contribute to the government's stability and improve its standing in the eyes of the public. Bridges had to be built, so the Labour MP and former minister thought he would knock some down.
With friends like this
Geoffrey Robinson would like us to believe he has done the government a good turn this week. The ruling clique of the New Labour cabinet, he says, has been riven with personal rivalries and political schisms since its inception and was in need of some healing. So he obliged by writing a book, The Unconventional Minister, which detailed the nature of these splits, resurrected old grievances and accused Peter Mandelson, the prime minister's closest ally, of being a conniving mischief-maker who misled the party, the House and the public.
Harlem - the new theme park
On Saturday night, Johnny's Recovery Room, a down-at-heel bar on Harlem's main drag, had been marinating in Motown and malt whisky. A woman who had been staring into space for at least half an hour had fallen off her perch on a bar stool only minutes after Gloria Gaynor had finished I Will Survive. She landed with a thud, remained there for a short while before being picked up and offered another drink. Minutes later an equally drunk man had danced out to Midnight Train To Georgia and cheers from the bar.
Celebrate, don't tolerate, minorities
The Telegraph's front page headline yesterday: "Straw wants to rewrite our history" begs two central questions. Who do they mean by "our" and precisely what version of history are they talking about.
Back in the hunt
Straw "noted" concerns, assured Jackson that media reports had been "entirely speculative" and promised to "bear the matters raised in mind". His response was prompt, polite and essentially dismissive.
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