ARGUMENTS of yesteryear forgotten, it was nice to see former Labour councillor John Thane appear once more on John Gulliver’s diary pages last week. The former Camden environment chief is busy spending his retirement pursuing a long-held ambition to write stage plays. He has a new work, The Night Of The Umbrella, currently playing at the Lion and Unicorn in Kentish Town. I saw one of his post-council plays at a playhouse in Islington once, and very good it was too.
Back in the day, however, the young John Thane appeared to have different hopes. His name pops up, and we must presume it is our John Thane on the law of probabilities that the Labour Party hasn’t had whole columns of people with the same name over the years, in a collectible book by Jonathan Aitken.
The former Conservative MP, who perhaps became better known for his conviction for perjury and his later work on penal reform, tried to chart the fashions, trends and energy found in a refreshed, swinging sixties London in The Young Meteors.
The aim was to interview 200 young trend-setters in design, fashion, business, journalism, clubs and… politics. And it’s in that last section that we come across John Thane, 25, working as a party researcher as ‘stepping stone’ to get into the House of Commons. Like everybody else in his department.
Although JT trod a different path in the end, it’s interesting to see the routes into big stage politics, the ol’ researcher-to-MP manoeuvre, doesn’t seem to have changed over 40 years.