TO the Progress annual conference at Congress House where the Miliband brothers were both on centre court today showcasing their leadership tilts. There were some seeds worth listening to on the outside courts too.
In a conference room upstairs, Oona King, the former MP for Bethnal Green and Bow who of course was unseated by Respect’s George Galloway at the 2005 general election, called on the Labour Party to make every new member feel bang on top of the world whenever they showed their initial interest.
She warned groups at local branch level were often unwelcoming to new recruits. In fact, she told activists that she had been to her first meeting when she was only 14 – not liked it – “and did not return for another seven years.”
She explained: “It didn’t say anything to me. It put me off. I couldn’t see the point. Although it was Camden in the 1980s, so maybe there was no point.“
Oona is 42. Fellow former Haverstock School pupil David Miliband, who is remembered locally for leafleting in his teens for Camden Labour and so clearly did see some point in Camden Labour, is 44. Did, in a hazy adolescent pastlife, their paths cross one night in 198whenever when Oona sampled a cliquey group meeting and thought to herself: Not for me? And why was Oona so turned off by Camden’s group of Labour politicians who conversely seemed to inspire David?
Later, Oona said she joined a United Nations society at school which she felt better represented her “idealistic” beliefs. But.. wait for the bombshell: she also sheepishly suggested she had joined the Socialist Workers Party for a year while she searched for the right home Now, what would GG make of that?