Given the love-in between the going … going … going … PM Tony Blair and his co-conspirators in the Coalition of the Willing, you could be forgiven for thinking that the New Labour apparatchiks weren’t particularly interested in solidarity with the global labour movement.

That impression is confirmed by Brit blogger Guido Fawkes, who confirms the rumour that political-disaster-at-large John McTernan is coming to Australia to help the ALP in its federal campaign.

McTernan, an adviser and roustabout in the New Labour core, has a way of popping up whenever things are about to go pear-shaped. During the cash-for-honours scandal which recently engulfed the Government, McTernan was interviewed several times, just before Downing Street adviser Ruth Kelly and Labour fundraiser Lord Levy were arrested and questioned,  it is said, on the basis of things McTernan blurted out while being interviewed under caution.

After that he was sent to Scotland, to run Labour’s campaign there — the campaign that lost Labour Scotland for the first time since WW2. Before that, he was running the London mayoral campaign for the hapless Frank Dobson, up against Ken Livingstone. Not his fault in most cases, but Labour has a tendency to send him to lost causes, which should worry Krudd.

In fact, it’s been a bad day for British-Australian Labour types all over, with Health Minister Patricia Hewitt (daughter of mandarin’s mandarin Sir Lennox) being assailed in the Commons for multiple failures in the NHS — chiefly an unworkable computer system for the assignment of junior doctors, which has seen 1500 missing out on training, while hospitals run short of medical staff. It’s a very New Labour disaster — their love of doomed mega-computer systems is a measure of their desire to bypass actual human relations and run an essentially subjectless system. Blair failed to endorse Hewitt against Tory attacks. When Brown comes in she’ll be the first body on the pyre.

Figuratively. For McTernan, the risk was more literal. In 2004 he was sent to Iraq to write a manifesto for the party the Coalition wanted to win (self-determination in action). They lost big time. Perhaps his masters hoped that a stray missile …? It certainly would have solved the cash-for-honours question.

And a terrible terrible thing, but not entirely random. After all he’s been one of the war’s greatest supporters, telling anyone who would listen (this was early days) that it was ‘a good war for us’. Who’s us? Not the Iraqis, that’s for sure.

Peter Fray

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Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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