The multiplication of uncomplimentary placards noticed by Mr Lyon and Felix Holt was one of several signs that the days of nomination and election were approaching.
Felix Holt, The Radical – George Eliot
I am fascinated by the presence of the phrase “flip flop” in the political lexicon as a term of abuse.
Tony Blair used it in his speech to the Welsh Labour annual conference. He told delegates withdrawing from the European social chapter was the only issue on which David Cameron's Conservatives had not flip flopped.
I'm not going to get involved in the wisdom or otherwise of withdrawing from the European social chapter. Putting that to one side, if flip flopping means changing your mind, what is so virtuous about never changing your mind that it deserves to be rewarded with votes?
Frankly, people who embrace evidence to the contrary of what they previously believed are just as deserving of praise. In certain circumstances such people are often called scientists, or sensible. Even Tony Blair acknowledges that Labour has had to jettison some of what it once believed to find a place in the modern world. In the same speech, he said that despite the “Labour values” that “we believe in - always have and always will”, there were times “in an economic sense” when “we didn't appear to have the answers for the future”.
There must be lots of people in Britain who thought Iraq was, on balance, worth invading, but who now think it has proved to be an overwhelmingly bad idea. Isn't it a bit nasty to marginalise them as flip floppers?
Anyway, in Australia flip flops are called “thongs” and how much more fun would it be to hear politicians accuse each other of “thonging” on policy?
Also at the Welsh Labour conference, I heard Enterprise Minister Andrew Davies's abilities get a ringing endorsement from trade union leader Andy Richards. The two used to work together at Ford. At a fringe event on the importance of the unions to the Labour Party, Mr Richards said Mr Davies was responsible for a lot of hard ministerial graft that went unseen. The T&G boss said that when you are in a “ruck” with a global company, trying to persuade it to keep factories open in Wales, it is no place for “thespians or rock stars”. Was he referring to someone in particular?