Václav Havel; Playwright, Dissident and President R.I.P.

Václav HavelYou may ask what kind of republic I dream of. Let me reply: I dream of a republic independent, free, and democratic, of a republic economically prosperous and yet socially just; in short, of a humane republic that serves the individual and that therefore holds the hope that the individual will serve it in turn.

Václav Havel, 1990 New Year’s Day Inaugural Presidential Address

The Guardian has the longest obituary of the Czech dissident Charter 77 leader who, following the 1989 Velvet Revolution, became president. The obituary is seemingly comprehensive yet politically suspect in tone, somehow neglecting to mention that Havel was charged by the Czech Communist Party with being a “rabid opponent of socialism”. Ed West in The Telegraph says he was one of the few who could be described as a political and intellectual hero. Havel’s life demonstrates that really great political change is the art of the impossible.

Havel was serious but not solemn, as can be seen from the signature on Guido’s English language copy of Charter 77, published by Index on Censorship in May 1977. Incidentally, Guido got his copy at an auction held in the heart of The Guardian building

Exclusive: New Miliband Speechwriter Deletes Critique

The Sunday papers are grim reading for Ed Miliband, with the Mail reporting the previously blogged criticisms of his newly hired speechwriter Asher Dresner. This morning  Dresner has quietly deleted the entries criticising Ed speeches from his blog to save his new boss embarrassment. As ever, in an effort to be helpful, Guido has restored and uploaded Dresner’s wisdom to the web here for all to read. The web is forever, not just for Christmas…

Dresner once wrote that

I really believe that the reason Blair was so successful was because he spoke to centrist majority….

Something that his new boss explicitly rejects, so Dresner will have to be clever in getting Blairisms into his speeches. Ed Miliband listens to left-wing wonks who think there is a “progressive majority”. Unfortunately the polls showing the Tories ahead suggest the reality is otherwise.

The Indy reports that Labour HQ is to be moved nearer to parliament, as if the 5 minute walk from Big Ben to Labour’s offices is part of the problem. The same article reports grassroots despair from former Ed supporters. The number of despairing former Ed supporters seems to be growing at an accelerating rate.

As Asher comes in and Ayesha goes out Guido has heard more about that much contested story from last week, sources say she fell out with Tom Baldwin repeatedly and that she is suspected of leaking Ed’s media grid as a departing shot. She has previous for negative briefing when she last worked for Harriet Harman,

This of course could be the product of an over-stimulated paranoid imagination. Baldwin himself is looking noticeably rough under the pressure of propping up Ed and getting cut through for his message. It can’t be easy to keep to a single line…



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Quote of the Day

Former Labour MP Dame Anne Begg:

“[Iain Duncan Smith] took to standing behind me during Prime Minister’s Questions. He stood at what’s called the Bar of the House and occasionally he would lean on my wheelchair. Our working relationship was slightly fraught anyway because I’d been critical of him a lot. I wanted to keep that criticism a professional criticism, not a criticism of him as a person so I never quite built up the courage to actually say: ‘Please don’t do that.'”

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