Wednesday 17 June 2009

New Tribune

A return to work from paternity leave today. Though I also now realise that - contrary to earlier claims that it would be the other way around - that the blogging may take more a back seat now that I am back in the office. This (time-shifted) post comes to you from my musings on the train home. In any event, a sleep deprived hallucinatory state was surely the only way to hope to make sense of the election results and the coup that wasn't.

After jumping straight back in to attend back-to-back meetings of the Fabian Executive, all very ably handled by research director Tim Horton along with chair Sadiq Khan, I did dive briefly into a packed Churchill Room for a celebration of the New Tribune along with my Fabian executive colleague Denis MacShane, who is enough of a Labour tribaiist (and inveterate scribbler) to fly the New Labour flag amidst the massed Tribune ranks.

A smartly new look revamped Tribune can now be found on newstands, thanks both to the financial rescue of the publication by Kevin McGrath from the former union consortium ownership, and the efforts of Chris McLaughlin and his staff, who have kept the publication alive and now have the chance to make something more of it.

A significant marketing push and an editorial overhaul are also promised. And, at some point later this year, expect Tribune to seek to make a new pitch for attention in the up-for-grabs space of the left blogosphere as an important way for the magazine to reach new audiences and seek to shape the left's debates.

Harriet Harman said that she and Patricia Hewitt had been immensely proud to be published in Tribune in the late 1970s when nobody else would take something arguing that Labour should always have a gender-balanced leadership ticket, and should adopt all women shortlists.

Peter Hain, arriving from an anti-apartheid campaign anniversary in Downing Street, may be struggling slightly to adjust to his return to the Cabinet after the freedom of the backbenches. All Labour governments sometimes disappoint their supporters, and even their members, he said. Perhaps this one particularly, he implied. But Tribune values meant constructive criticism was combined with realising that more united than divided us

Hain, a former chair of the Tribune board, revealed that he had been responsible for the appointment of Mark Seddon as editor. Clare Short had been suspicious because Seddon had been recommended by a Mr Gordon Brown. Seddon - heckling - wanted to know what had happened to his peerage.

Tribune is an important part of Labour's history. There can be no better moment for it to restake a claim to an important voice in the debate about Labour's future. You can get behind it by subscribing.

PS: In the hubbub, two or three Labour MPs returning from the PLP hustings for Speaker suggested that Parmjit Dhanda is doing a good deal to set the agenda for the contest, though the youngest candidate is an outsider for a role. Another Labour MP suggested that that John Bercow had looked nervous in the lift heading into the PLP meeting: "Don't worry: we're not the Tories you know", he told him.

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