by Nick Wright
I only met Angela Eagle once. That was enough. I have rarely come across a more charmless individual.
The setting was the General Council dinner at the Trades Union Congress annual conference.
These events are sometimes quite good fun as the seating arrangements, devised by the TUC ‘office’, sometimes throw up interesting combinations of guests.
One quite amusing juxtaposition took place with Lord Falconer, Tony Blair’s flatmate sat, appropriately to my right.
The noble lord took command of the gathering, introduced himself and asked each of the guests to say which organisation they represented. On discovering that the present writer was accredited to the conference as representing the Communist Party he feigned surprise that such a body still existed. Someone pointed out that around our table at least New Labour was in a minority and most probably less well represented than Britain’s bolsheviks.
He took it in good part and even tried to blag a free ticket to the Morning Star social, perhaps unaware of the convention that even General Council members who have no intention of interrupting their drinking and scheming to attend invariably pay ticket good money for a ticket.
On another occasion, it was the no less Blairite Angela Eagle who found herself among a coillection of delegates no less left wing.
Sat inappropriately to my left and considerably less assured than Lord Falconer she found herself on the sticky end of several discussions, rapidly lost what composure she possessed and found herself embroiled in a discussion about Anti Social Behavioural Orders.
Unfortunately for her the company included the leaders of several justice workers’ organisations, prison officers, probation officers, civil servants, court clerks and several progressive lawyers.
When confronted with evidence that ASBOs were ineffective, counterproductive and merely displaced anti social activity from one area to another she replied that was precisely why she supported them.
When some mischievous wit suggested that the discussion should continue with the MPs for the constituencies neighbouring hers she stomped off to find more congenial company.