On Saturday 2 November the city town hall was host to the Labour in Leicester conference: and while the temperature of the main event no doubt rose considerably owing to the industrial amounts of hot air spouting forth from our Councillors mouths, the most notable part of the day was arguably the fringe event that was organized by “Progress” — the right-wing grouping within the Labour party.
The chair of this Blairite fringe meeting was Vijay Riyait, Abbey ward’s recently elected Councillor — a spineless man who, unable to demonstrate his allegedly allegiance to the working-class through political action, used his twitter account to announce: “Never let it be said I’ve lost my working class roots. I was making the teas & coffees…”
Other individuals speaking from the platform at the Progress meeting included deputy mayor Rory Palmer, Liz Kendall MP, Carol Dean (PPC for Tamworth), and Steve Van Riel, the Labour party’s former director of policy and research. Also, one might add, although there was no publicly listed register of attendees, Evington ward Councillor Deepak Bajaj proudly promoted his attendance at the meeting via his twitter feed.
Steve Van Riel was perhaps the biggest hitting political operative at the meeting, having just vacated his role as the head of research at Centreground Political Communications. Centreground being the current home to a who’s who of former propaganda warriors for the former Prime Minister Tony Blair, a good example being provided by Blair’s former Chief of Staff, Jonathan Powell, who became a leading principal in the much maligned corporate profiteering outfit Tony Blair Associates.
Here one might recall that much like Blair who went on to work for JPMorgan Chase, Jonathan Powell went on from political office to serve in London as a managing director and senior advisor at the investment bank Morgan Stanley. Powell also represented a British private intelligence agency known as Hakluyt & Company Limited, which was outed in 2001 for spying on environmental campaign groups on behalf of energy companies.
The Hakluyt connection being particularly interesting as they were founded in 1994 by former military head honcho, Christopher James — a man who recently became one of the four founding trustees of Jonathan Powell’s latest “charitable” venture Inter Mediate: a group which “Through the facilitation of negotiation,” say they hope to work in some of the “most difficult, complex and dangerous conflicts where other organisations are unable to operate.” Worrying eh!
If you are interested in a slightly more working-class orientated political meeting that took place at the same time as Labour in Leicester conference see below: