Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Farewell to the old generation

I was in the hall at Labour conference for the first time yesterday, to hear Jack Straw make his final platform speech before retiring from Labour's frontbench after 30 years. He had to endure a series of jokes about his age from his colleague Alan Johnson, who spoke before him. The best of these was that the Shadow Cabinet have clubbed together to buy him a leaving present - an "express stairlift" which "gets you to the top of the stairs before you forget what you went up there for".
Straw himself warned of the dangers of the party going back to the divisions of the 80s, and said it must remain "relevant and electable". I have to say I've always quite liked the former Lord Chancellor - he is a serious politician who rarely gives in to cheap political point-scoring, and is usually quite witty in the Commons. Immediately after his speech he attended a Hansard Society/Institute for Government fringe meeting on the role of MPs, and made a very considered and interesting contribution. I think Ed Miliband's "New Generation" will be poorer without him.

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