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The Barclay brothers’ cuckoo in Labour’s nest

Walking in the Northamptonshire woods over the weekend, I heard that harbinger of spring, the cuckoo, calling for the first time. It is an unmistakeable sound to be sure, but one that very quickly becomes quite repetitive. There are other traits associated with cuckoos that don’t exactly endear them to many, most notably the propensity of the adult bird to lay its egg in the nests of other birds, and for the cuckoo fledgling to push out the offspring.

If a cuckoo were able to share its soliloquy, how could it explain the greed to drive its non parents to keep on frenetically feeding it, all the while knowing that it had done the dirty on their offspring?  There is something innately self serving about the cuckoo, and that put me in mind of its political near relative, dedicated, without any hint of irony by Daily Telegraph editors to one of their blogger scribes as the ‘Blairite cuckoo in Labour’s nest’.

I refer of course to one Dan Hodges, the Telegraph’s resident blogger, who has made a name for himself as an ardent critic of Ed Miliband, and who now pops up on the television programmes most watched by the so called ‘Westminster village’. He shares a trait with other political bloggers and commentators of being obsessed with form and process; the ‘who’s up and who’s down’ of contemporary British politics which is such a huge turn off to so many. Indeed it is difficult to ascertain what alternative policies he would urge on Ed Miliband and the Labour Party, other than very similar economic and welfare policies being pursued by the Tory lead coalition, which is something he shares in common with Tony Blair and the other unreconstructed Blairistas who have been busy rocking the boat of late.

Doubtless Dan Hodges and his aficionados will take some delight in receiving some mild criticism and attention from someone like me who back in the day at Tribune and on Labour’s NEC, could usually be relied upon to do a turn or two taking on the party leadership. I would like to think that my own track record was built on a solid left critique of where New Labour was going under Tony Blair, but I am now old enough to realise that I sometimes got it wrong, and in retrospect didn’t always give enough credit where credit was due. Also, it was damn hard to resist the blandishments of sections of the media. So I don’t begrudge Dan Hodges his turn in the Sun, although I would urge him to change the record before he becomes something of a one hit wonder.

But there is a reason why the Daily Telegraph employs him as a columnist, and there is a reason why the muck raking blogger, Paul Staines, advertises whatever he writes for the Telegraph on his Guido Fawkes website.  Dan Hodges is employed to damage the Labour Party in a Conservative Party supporting newspaper and website. He would not for instance be employed to advocate more left wing or progressive policies Labour and to flesh them out, as that is not the reason why the Barclay brothers own the Telegraph stable.  So to all intents and purposes he has become just another Right wing blogger attacking the Labour Party, while still being a member of it.  There are some who believe that his crescendo of criticism will reach such an intensity, that he will waltz out of the Labour Party altogether. I don’t believe it. For once he does that he ceases to be much use to the Telegraph Media Group.

There is of course always the risk of inflating the significance of bloggers such as Dan Hodges. But I suspect it won’t be people like me who perform this service to him and this disservice not only to the Labour Party but to rational political debate.  For as a more or less permanent feature of sites such as Guido Fawkes, Hodges’ diatribes may soon be destined to reach a far wider audience. For Staines and others on the Right wing fringe of British politics, are currently engaged in what is perhaps the largest ever exercise in data harvesting for political purposes in recent British history. So, over the course of time, I fully expect that Hodges ever more virulent diatribes against Ed Miliband and the Labour Party will be spread to an even larger audience.

Perhaps it is this notoriety that he seeks. But I for one just wish his Mum, Glenda Jackson, would give him the sort of telling off she gave Maggie Thatcher last week.

That might sort him out.


  1. Dr Eoin Clarke says:

    Who is this Dan Hodges you speak of Mark? I’m in a room full of politics graduates at this moment and that was their reply. They’ve never heard of him.

  2. Good Afternoon; This is the 1st time I have blogged on your site, so here goes, with your permission, of course.Watching Brillo’s programme This Week gave me the opportunity to see Hodges at first hand, having heard plenty and read plenty about him. He certainly didn’t disapoint; leaving aside the obvious point, that he wouldn’t be a Telegraph journalist (as you point out so well in your article) if he wasn’t an anti-union, New Labour apparatchik, it still surprised me at the venomous level of his anti-Labour diatribe dressed up as an anti-Milliband rant. Even more so when you think of the magnificent contribution that his mother, Glenda Jackson made on the floor of the H.o C. in her truthful assessment about Thatchers anti-women policies.

    Still it exposes the viciousness of the Bliarites towards Milliband,and that they are prepared to wreck Labour and a future Labour government once they have lost control of the party machine, just like their Gaitskellite predecessors.
    As you say there is no point in the party trying to discipline him (as New Labour almost certainly would have, if it had been Tribune) give him enough rope and he will hang himself, then he will see how much use he is to the Telegraphh.

  3. John p Reid says:

    Francis, how d’you know Hodges is anti union, any way, Livingstone use to writ a column in the Sun between 92-97′ when it was a Tory rag,

  4. John; You only have to look at the statements he makes on work issue matters, even though I believe he has some sort of connections to one of the unions.If he was a pro union activist he wouldn’t be working on the Telegraph(I know, he is more than likely an NUJ member, so was Bernard Levin and Andrew Neill. If he is a union militant, which his track record shows no sign of, he will be the first one ever to be associated with New Labour
    Your point about Livingston having a column in the Sun is completely undermined by the line “When it was a Tory rag”.Sorry, have I missed something? it still is the most scurrilous Tory rag,even pipping the Daily Mail.

  5. John p Reid says:

    The sun backed labour in 70′ twice in 74′ and 3 time from 97-2005 in fact of the 11 elections since its existence it’s backed labour 6 times(. 5 of which we won, it’s backed the Tories 5 times of which 4 the Tories have won,if you include the fact the Tories didn’t actually win in 3010

  6. John; From Murdoch owning the Sun, taking control of Odhams Press and changeing the old Daily Herald into the Sun,Murdoch’s media chain carried out an anti-Labour(and a vicious, scurrilous anti-union smear)campaign. So since the mid 60s it has backed Labour 5 times, if you can remember Sailor Heath’s disastrous 70-74 government, only the Mail , Express and Telegraph backed the Torie’s.The Sun backed Bliar and Brown because New Labour because even a blind, deaf person could see that New Labour was so far removed from the Labour Party of Atlee, Gaitskell, Wilson even Callaghan that they were indistinguishable from the Tories, until Cameron and Osbourne showed their true colours.
    How any Labour member/supporter could even mention the Sun, after Murdoch appointe the vile, odious Kelvin McKenzie and the vicious 1992 election campaign against Neil Kinnock, and a few more campaigns equally as vile.

  7. John p Reid says:

    Of course the sun was vile in its attack on Kinnock in 92′ one has to admire Charles Clarke Neil Kinnocks campaign manager meeting Mckenzie in 1991 to negotiate a truce, for the record the sun back labour 6 of the 11 last elections, since it changed from the Herald in 1970′

  8. Steve Thomas says:

    The above poster: Lord De Chanson alias Mr Craig Tuck, alias Mr Roland Lybird is a convicted criminal and well known fraudster. In 1985 he was convicted of four cases of deception. In 1998 he was imprisoned for accounting irregularities. Business history: First bankruptcy 1990. A further bankruptcy in 2004 of Roland Lybird London Ltd. Current business venture: Global Investors Research, with registered business address The Flat, The Bakery, Sark, Channel Islands.

  9. Steve Thomas says:

    Lord de Chanson does not appear in Debrett’s Peerage and Baronetage. But he tells people that this is his real name – it was changed from Craig Tuck by deed poll in 1992. In 1995, Craig Tuck was convicted of four counts of obtaining money by deception at Bradford Crown Court. This venture went bust, leaving publications where he had advertised, and others, out of pocket. In 1998, he was jailed for accounting irregularities.

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