Hilary Benn

Calling it wrong

First published on the Huffington Post

Emily Thornberry, keen to prepare the ground for moving on from the ‘chaos and distraction’ of the leadership election, has written a very private message to all her Islington South and Finsbury Labour followers on Facebook, a message which managed to find its way to the Guardian. It contains a ‘plea’ to her ‘fellow MPs’ to ‘stop the internal division, unite as a party, and take the fight to the Tories together’. Given that Thornberry now occupies a senior position in the party, as shadow foreign secretary, her words matter for how the party regroups after the election result. (more…)

Hope

First published on ProgressOnline

Hope the play

Hope runs at the Royal Court, London SW1 until 10 January 2015

Actor Paul Higgins moves seamlessly from foul-mouthed and over-confident Downing Street operator in the Thick Of It to his latest role as contorted local councillor in Jack Thorne’s latest play, Hope. Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, Higgins is number two this time to cold Labour council leader Hilary (played by Stella Gonet) rather than hothead Labour apparatchik Malcolm Tucker.

The play revolves around the huge and desperate cuts that Eric Pickles and his colleagues have forced on local government. It looks at the trials and tribulations of a council having to find £22m of cuts in the coming year. All trying to do the right thing, many hours are spent trying to choose one cut over another. It all turns sour when a day centre for disabled people gets axed. Run by the ex-wife of the deputy leader, she is able to use her foot in both worlds to rally anti-austerity forces locally and nationally. The council backs down and it only gets worse. (more…)