A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Don't believe everything you read in the papers

I've always thought one of the key measures you can judge a politician by is the way in which they treat their staff (for instance, there is a Labour deputy leadership candidate who always used to have a notorious record for high staff turnover and low pay, which is a bit of an odd reputation to have as an employer if you are seeking the number 2 job in the party set up by the trade unions).

So I was pleased that Blair stood by Ruth Turner on what must have been a ghastly day yesterday, saying:

"Ruth is a person of the highest integrity for whom I have great regard and I continue to have complete confidence in her".

This fits with my memory of her from the very limited dealings I had with her over a decade ago - as someone that stood out for their decency in the snakepit of student politics.

Which brings me to the title of this post. For David Hencke, a man with a reputation as one of Britain's top investigative journalists, writes in the Guardian today that Ruth was "was not a Labour activist at university" which is strange because my admittedly fuzzy memory is that she was the national Vice-Chair of Labour Students - and one of numerous wearers of t-shirts proclaiming "Salford Labour Club - Democratic Socialism in Our Lunchtime" who would turn up to NOLS events (usually to vote against me as this was during my very brief period as an insurgent anti-NOLS Office rebel (!)). If the papers can't get basic biographical details right should we believe most of the rest of what is being written about this case?

Labour supporters need to remember what triggered this investigation - not a journalist, ethics committee or watchdog but a partisan complaint from an SNP MP.


Anonymous Duncan said...

While not agreeing with everything in this entry, I would add that my (probably even fuzzier!) memories of the same era of student politics are that Ruth was a decent and committed Labour activist and - unlike some of her NOLS colleagues - never behaved in a corrupt or dishonest way, to my recollection. I'm glad Blair stuck up for her too, and hope this wasn't just a bit of guilt-salving and that he hadn't also thrown her to the lions.

2:15 pm, January 20, 2007

Anonymous Peter Kenyon said...

Dear Luke

As a former fellow member of Hackney Labour Group, I would suggest that we need to be very circumspect about investigations into possible criminal acts. Not because the Police may be out of order, but because those whom they are obliged to investigate might be. At this stage in the proceedings we don't know whether an offence that might be prosecuted has been committed or not. The power to decide whether an offence might have been committed, which could be prosecuted have been moved from the Police to the Crown Prosecution Service.

We (Labour Party members) have a massive task ahead to rebuild trust with the electorate. I'm not convinced that any of the statements made in support of Ruth Turner have done anything to enhance the Labour Party's standing in the mind of the public.

All the above comes before I recall in fuller detail the steps taken by Hackney Labour Group in the event of a serving councillor when she was arrested.

NB Ruth Turner's salary is paid by the Labour Party.

One to watch for fairness, I think.

2:53 pm, January 20, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Peter - you seem to be responding to what other people have said rather than my post. I didn't comment on the police investigation but oulined my limited experience of Ruth's character and my views on her boss sticking by her.

There hasn't been a female serving Labour Councillor arrested in my time in Hackney - must have been pre my arrival in 1998. If there was, my understanding of Party procedure is that you are suspended if charged, not if arrested and released without charge.

You mention that Ruth is in law a Party employee - therefore as a Party we surely have some duty of care to support her unless and until any charges are made - and indeed beyond that if any charges relate to doing something her line managers instructed her to do.

7:03 pm, January 20, 2007

Blogger Kris Brown said...

'during my very brief period as an insurgent anti-NOLS Office rebel (!)).'

Wow, really?

Just for that you get a link from my blog.

8:37 pm, January 20, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

She was an NEC candidate and a Euro candidate before they say she was active ... she made a joke to NW Business Insider which Guardian took as real.

8:18 pm, January 21, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Going back to Peter's comment I think it is fair to say that some of these remarks are supposed to support the integrity of the person making them. "As you can tell from my statement of blah blah I believed that RT was honest as the day is long. Like that Iraq dossier. But I was wrong. But not about Iraq naturally."
Anyway, we already know that RT will be fine as she was of course one of his two loyal workers at The Blair Witch Foundation. And that was set in the future in 2010/2011.

1:01 pm, January 22, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Referring to The Trial of TB, natch.

1:02 pm, January 22, 2007

Anonymous susan press calder valley clp said...

The Trial of TB,which many have dissed, seems to me to have been oddly prescient. But Puttnam on the telly blubbing about the Plod? Unbelievable.If Ruth is the fine upstanding young woman everyone says then she has nothing to worry about.Does she?

1:15 pm, January 22, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As for the Trial of TB. Watched it both times and found a little more in it the second - though in truth I took the dogs for a 5-minute walk and made cups of tea NOT in the ads the first time as it was not really that engaging. The second time I took notes throughout and that I think makes quite a difference to how much is revealled.

3:04 pm, January 22, 2007


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