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The Scurra.

JUSTas the Cabinet gears up for the election, The Scurra hears that dormant tensions are being stirred up behind the scenes. The cause of the trouble is that old war horse, Tony Benn.

In an interview with a radical online magazine, the grand old man of the Labour left tears into three former comrades who deserted hard-line socialism for the sunlit uplands of New Labour.

"The number of Trots who are now Blairites," he tells www.squall.co.uk. "I mean, Alistair Darling was a Trot, I believe Steven Byers was a Trot, Alan Milburn was a Trot. And the Comms (Communists) shift because,funnily enough, the Comms identify in New Labour the very Democratic Centralism they admired in Russia." Darling is now Social Security Secretary, Stephen Byers is top dog at the DTI and Milburn is Health Secretary, but in their younger days they were all rabidly anti- establishment.

Neil Kinnock once allegedly described Darling as "that f*****g Trot", while Milburnwas involved at one time with the International Marxist Group, the British section of the Fourth International, founded by the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky in 1938.

In those days, the Health Secretary ran the Days of Hope bookshop in Newcastle upon Tyne, which became known as Haze of Dope thanks to its wacky baccy-smoking customers. Milburn's spokesman, Darren Murphy, will not rise to the bait, however. "I haven't seen it so I can't comment,"he tells The Scurra brusquely. Even after he has been sent a copy, there's not a peep out of him. Still, anyone can change. After all, Peter Mandelson was once a Stalinist. Oh, perhaps they can't.

OVERHEARD at the showbiz restaurant Joe Allen, two luvvies discussing the news that Tom Cruise is suing a porn star who says the pair had gay sex. "Tom is going to screw that guy for all he's got." What an uncomfortable choice of words.

THIScolumn is indebted to Mrs J Deal of Blackpool who writes with a nugget that takes us all back into the 20th Century. A programme from Blackpool's Laugh Inn, on the South Pier in 1973, shows that two performers on the bill were the TV presenter Johnny Ball and a young singer called Karen Kay. "Johnny's daughter would play in the sand with Karen's son," says Mrs Deal. The little whippersnappers, of course, grew up to become Zoe Ball and Jay Kay of Jamiroquai. So there you have it.

THE gargantuan Tory MP Nicholas Soames recently issued a press release moaning that cattle carcasses from outside Sussex - a county which doesn't have foot-and-mouth disease - were being buried in landfill sites in his Mid-Sussex constituency. It now turns out that the former Armed Services Minister was inadvertently doing the work of another MP - the sites were not in his constituency but beyond the boundaries. Do keep up, Nick.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 8, 2001
Words:473
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