The high and wide St Pancras Church is full, below and above, and expectant. “I’m Backing Andy” posters abundant, so too helpers in “I’m Backing Andy” T-Shirts, and a stage full of supporters, backing Andy. A very Jack Black-like John Prescott comes first, geeing-up the troops: the ‘original northern powerhouse’ starts by slagging off Chuka and ‘Tristian’ for their treachery – gives hecklers a “what’s that, luv?” here and “hang on, sunshine” there – Labour values for today, we’ve lost our way – boos for Blair. Then the call and answer: we can win can’t we? Can’t we? Here’s the man who will win!
Andy Burnham has soft eyes and an affable manner, but sings the same scowl. Quotes: “Duncan Smith is doing again what he likes doing best – torturing the disabled…” – “I’ll run the Bullingdon boys ragged and kick ’em out” – “what this Party needs is to believe in itself again, what this country needs is a Labour Party which believes in itself again, only we can give people hope”. I had gone wanting to believe, however my fear that Andy Burnham was a left old Labour at heart were confirmed. Perhaps this really is “the beating heart of the Labour movement” which he so eulogizes.
I left early and bumped into Hillary Benn, truly a kind-hearted person, I expressed my concerns to him. But, in view of the busy rainy London night, and the fact my bike had no lights, we agreed that the greater concern was my safely getting home.