With Tristram Hunt being promoted to the Shadow Cabinet , here is a 2012 piece I wrote on the man.
No one will miss Stephen Twigg, the useless Blairite he replaced, but Hunt is really a more effective Blairite.
Now read on.....
Hand in Glove
12 July 2012
Last week I wrote about millionaire Lord Sainsbury's various projects to make politics more millionaire-friendly.
Sainsbury put big money into big schemes to promote low tax, low
regulation, pro-privatisation groups like the Social Democrat Party,
Blairite secret society Progress, or the creepy Institute for
But there's one small Sainsbury project that also deserves a mention - Project Tristram.
Tristram Hunt, the new-Laboury MP for Stoke, is often called a "Peter Mandelson protege."
But he is really a Sainsbury scheme - Hunt did a summer job helping
lobbyist Derek Draper write a book on Tony Blair's greatness in 1997.
But both men were working for Sainsbury, who wanted to build his Progress organisation around the soon-to be-disgraced Draper.
Lord Sainsbury then hired Hunt as his own spokesman. And while Sainsbury
has stopped funding Labour because he thinks Ed Miliband is too red, he
did put £3,000 into Hunt's Stoke constituency Labour Party.
Sainsbury's money is supposed to secure Hunt's place in Stoke after the
local party objected to him being forced on them as a candidate in 2010.
Hunt's progress shows exactly how the culture of favours and
"internships" promotes public schoolboys over ordinary folk, even in the
Hunt doesn't look as right wing as some of his sponsors, but this is
mostly an issue of timing. He arrived too late to push the high new
Labour policies like war and privatisation. But look closely and he
often is rightish.
He's is a member of the "constitutional reform" MPs' select committee. Last year it vigorously investigated business lobbying.
But Hunt was cautious, arguing that "lobbyists can play a useful and effective role in the legislative process."
Coincidentally lobbyist Tim Allen also funds Hunt's constituency party, giving it £2,000 this March.
Allen is the managing director of Portland, a lobbyist group
representing arms firm BAE as well as Coca-Cola and McDonalds.
Portland's latest client is scandal-hit Barclays.
Mike Craven, founder of lobbyists Lexington, also gave £1,000 to Hunt's constituency party.
His clients include the giant vampire squid of banking, Goldman Sachs, and health privateer Bupa.
Hunt makes occasional windy attacks on "predatory capitalism," but is friendly with some of its sly beasts.
Hunt wrote a reasonable book about Engels. But, to paraphrase Lenin, "in
their lifetime great revolutionaries are reviled, but when they die the
ruling classes try and turn them into harmless icons by getting some
public-school twerp to write their biography."
Engels used cash from his business to fund one of capitalism's greatest
critics. Sainsbury uses his cash to fund Hunt, who mumbles the odd
complaint while trying to keep Labour basically compliant.