Phone Hacking: The Guardian should hang its head in shame over its stance on a second Leveson inquiry


Lord Justice Leveson: Pic courtesy of Leveson inquiry website Not chairing any new inquiry now


The Guardian is my old employer. It has a long and honourable tradition of fearless investigations which do not follow the rest of the pack. That included holding the media industry to account.

The decision this week to join the rest of the press pack and welcome the demise of Leveson 2 – the inquiry which would have taken a cold hard look at how mainstream media – in particular the News of the World and the Mirror – indulged in phone hacking and other nefarious practices  is profoundly disappointing.

It is even more so because one of the Guardian’s finest investigative reporters Nick Davies – now properly retired unlike me – exposed the practice in the  Milly Dowler case which triggered  the public exposure of the whole sordid business.

It is the spurious reasoning the paper has used to justify such action. The paper talked about looking forward rather than in the back view mirror as the main reason why it had decided to side with the Sun, the Murdoch empire and the Daily Mail and Telegraph. Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and Rupert Murdoch must be rubbing their hands with glee at their latest supporter, Kathy Viner, the editor in chief of the Guardian.

The inquiry would have made publicly accountable the top people who authorised such shameful practices which bring investigative journalism into disrepute  whether by hiring private investigators to blag, steal and phone hack anybody’s private life so long as they were a celeb or a Royal. More to feed the public’s voyeurism than in the public interest.

Worse, through this culture, they may have been with the Met police an accessory to  the horrific murder in 1987 of private investigator, Daniel Morgan – now at long last the subject  of a forensic independent panel inquiry under Baroness Nuala O’Loan , the former first Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. If the second Leveson inquiry had been launched, the independent panel report would have helped  inform Sir Brian Leveson in his difficult task.

The dropping of the inquiry has nothing to do with the future of press regulation – even though it is in the interest of newspaper proprietors and The Guardian to suggest it is. That is a separate matter.

If one followed the spurious logic of the Guardian – in simple don’t look back in anger – then it could have said in 1994 that the ” cash for questions” saga was also old hat -it was revealed 10 years after the event anyway- and there was no need for an expensive inquiry by Lord Nolan.

Yet because they did examine this historic scandal we now have a benchmark for MPs and ministerial behaviour and a permanent body – the Committee on Standards in Public Life- which can investigate new issues of propriety. It still as relevant today as in the 1990s.

The Leveson 2 inquiry could have provided something similar for the media and opened the debate on the way social media operates.

The  same logic would also suggest – as the Daily Mail and The Times already have – that there is no need for the present independent child sexual abuse inquiry – as that is just historic or why bother covering reports from the National Audit Office as they look back at past mistakes. It will be a very quick way of denuding the Guardian’s website and print editions.

My suspicion – and I have no knowledge – is that this decision is driven by commercial worries. Mainstream media is being sandwiched between the rise of social media giants Google and Facebook who are taking away their advertising – and the growing  popularity of websites and blogs – often with a right or left wing bias which attract a young readership.

Panic has led the mainstream media to rush to hang together and try and stop any further independent inquiry into their working practices. They should be careful – those who hang together could fall together. That is why the Guardian – a traditional dissident voice – should  hang its head in shame for what it now stands for.







IMPRESS reject arbitration and compensation claim from ex MP over Esther Baker investigation story on this blog

esther baker

Esther Baker


The press regulator, Impress, has refused a request for arbitration and compensation from former Liberal Democrat MP, John Hemming, over an article published on this blog last September when the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to  issue criminal proceedings against the ex MP and two other people over allegations of child sex abuse from Esther Baker.

The article reported, almost in full, statements issued by Staffordshire Police and the ex MP after the decision was announced by the CPS. The CPS concluded there was ” insufficient evidence ” to proceed, the ex MP said he had been the subject of false allegations.

Since then Esther Baker has appealed the CPS decision and a ruling is expected some time in the autumn.

This blog is not directly covered by the regulator, IMPRESS, but because I cross post articles on the independent platform, Byline, it is indirectly covered since Byline has agreed to be regulated by IMPRESS.

IMPRESS’S regulatory committee ruled  that the article  on its own could not been seen  as Mr Hemming claimed as ” harassment”. And it dismissed his claim for compensation by saying that any  alleged harm caused to Mr Hemming  by this article was ” trivial ” and ” too insignificant to meet the  test ” for a claim.

For the record  and to prevent other people putting  any spin on this decision this is the text of the ruling sent to Byline:

“I am writing to advise you that an IMPRESS Regulatory Committee recently met to consider John Hemming’s request for arbitration. Having carefully considered his request in accordance with the IMPRESS procedures they have decided that the request is not suitable for arbitration under the CIArb/IMPRESS Arbitration Scheme. The reasons for their decision are set out below.

Reasons for Board arbitration suitability decision:

Rule 8.3 of the IMPRESS Regulatory Scheme requires the Board to make an administrative assessment of whether a claim is covered by the scheme. For the avoidance of doubt, this decision is not based on an assessment of the merits of a claim.
Rule 46 of the Regulatory Scheme Procedures provides six administrative criteria that need to be satisfied before a claim can be accepted under the scheme.

The Board considered each of these in turn:
(i) The claim is made against a publisher regulated by IMPRESS.
The Committee was satisfied that the claim was made against a publisher (Byline) that was regulated by IMPRESS at the time of the act complained of (6 September 2017).
(ii) The claim is related to one of the areas of law covered by the scheme.
The Committee was satisfied that the claim related to an area of law covered by the scheme, namely defamation and harassment. With regards to the claim for harassment however, though this related to one of the areas covered by the scheme, the Committee determined that the claim for harassment did not satisfy the relevant test. This was because, under a claim for harassment, a ‘course of conduct’ required two or more events to be characterised as such. The claimant therefore could not bring a claim against the publisher for the publication of one article.
(iii) The claim is not a pre-publication matter where it is appropriate for it to be directed to the courts.
The Committee was satisfied that the claim did not relate to a pre-publication matter where it was appropriate for it to be directed to the courts.
(iv) The claim provides a clear statement setting out the harm or financial loss suffered by the claimant.
The Committee was not satisfied that the claim clearly set out the harm or financial loss that the claimant had suffered as a result of the published article. It noted that the claimant largely relied on the fact that the article was part of a wider campaign against him which he accepted that Byline was not a party to.
(v) The claim describes a specific action or activity of a publisher that has caused the alleged harm or financial loss.
The Committee was not satisfied that the claimant adequately described how it was the article published by Byline that caused the alleged harm and loss to the claimant. This is because, although the claimant identified specific harm and loss caused by the ‘wider campaign’, the claimant failed to specify any harm or loss which arose as a direct result of the article published by Byline. The Committee determined that any harm or loss caused to the claimant by the publisher was trivial or incidental in conjunction with the remainder, and was thus too insignificant to meet the test.
(vi) The claimant explains why the complaint is not suitable for resolution by the IMPRESS complaints procedure.
The Committee accepted that given that (i) the complaint did not, on the face of it, appear to engage the Standards Code and (ii) the claimant sought financial compensation as a remedy, it was not suitable for resolution by the IMPRESS complaints procedure.
In conclusion, the Committee decided that the claimant’s request for arbitration should be refused on the grounds that parts (iv) and (v) of the test were not met.

Peter Preston: An appreciation

Peter Preston

Peter Preston Pic credit: The Guardian


There are two people who changed my life as a journalist. One was Brian MacArthur, who took me on The Times Higher Education Supplement in 1973. The other was Peter Preston who appointed me as a reporter on The Guardian in 1976.

I still remember the first interview  with Peter Preston for my job at the Guardian when he out of the blue suddenly asked what my politics were – probably not the politically correct question you might expect in applying for a reporter’s job.

” Disillusioned Labour “, I said.. “Aren’t we all ” came back the riposte.

PP was a man of few words but enormous depth. You could not always fathom what he was thinking but what you did know he was utterly committed to the newspaper, perpetually fascinated by stories and would defend you against the powerful who might seek to censor or even ridicule you.

He was utterly committed to press freedom both at home and abroad and not bothered or even remotely interested about becoming a member of the Establishment.

He also got me out of scrapes – both on a personal and professional level. After I joined the Guardian my wife, Margaret and I bought our first house. I had spotted a small ad for a four bedroom  refurbished terraced house in Holloway which even in the late 1970s appeared to be too cheap at around £23,000. She was sceptical whether there was something wrong but it passed a survey and we got a mortgage. She turned out to be right when the joists which held the main staircase started to give way and cracks appeared. I asked for a mortgage to repair it but found the building society would charge extra interest to give me a loan. I mentioned this to Peter Preston and he offered me a £500 loan from the Guardian which I paid back from my salary – just in time to prevent the staircase collapsing.

In another instance rather the worse for wear  I foolishly remarked to the Tory housing minister, then John Stanley, that their divisive housing policies could lead to a breakdown in society  between rich and poor and end up with people kidnapping prominent people- citing  how would Michael Heseltine ( then Environment Secretary)  feel if someone kidnapped his daughter.

He interpreted that to mean that I knew someone in the IRA who would, contacted Heseltine, who called in Special Branch. An inspector rang the Guardian for my home telephone number and they refused to give it to him, saying they would contact me. When I got home later  ( no mobile phones then) and found the message I rang the inspector and convinced him I was no terrorist. ” I am glad you rang I was just about to send someone around to batter down your door”, he said.

The next day Peter Preston wrote to Heseltine pointing out that there was difference between a Guardian reporter having strong views and being a terrorist and sought an apology for his over reaction. Heseltine declined to apologise saying he had to protect his family.

What neither of them knew is that our baby sitter for the night was a lovely middle aged Irish lady, who had a very strong Sligo accent. If she had answered the phone to special branch, I will leave it to your imagination to think what would have happened next.

PP was  a amazing innovator. Others like David McKie, in his Guardian obituary, have much more eloquently explained the huge innovations he introduced to the design and content of the paper during his long editorship.

But on a  straightforward reporting level he thought out of the box. In 1986 I was very nearly poached by the Independent, offering me first social services correspondent and then Whitehall editor. He responded with the idea of sending me down to the lobby with a brief that had never been held by anyone – to use Parliament as a base to investigate MPs, lobbyists and Whitehall – and not follow the day to day lobby events.

Never a supporter of the Westminster club,  I think he really put me down there as an unguided missile to see what would happen. And when I started to get into trouble he always backed me.

He took on the Privileges Committee  when they were considering removing me from Parliament over the leaking of the National Audit Office memo which revealed the ” Rover sweeteners” scandal – the  secret bung given to then British Aerospace for buying ailing British Leyland.

He also neatly diverted Neil Hamilton MP – when he wrote to him a year before the ” cash for questions” scandal broke in 1994 – warning him about my activities and saying there was ” nothing worth printing ” about the story. The story which started when Mohammed al Fayed  inadvertently revealed to him he had been paying MPs was one of his crowning glories.

He will always be  my hero – despite the Sarah Tisdall scandal  where he was forced by the courts to give away a then unknown source – because he backed reporting and was interested in news. His reaction to a good story was normally one word ” terrific”. When he said that you knew the story was home and dry.






Child sex abuse:How Lady Macur exonerated the Waterhouse inquiry over convicted paedophile Gordon Anglesea

lady justice macur

Lady Macur


Gordon Anglesea: Now a dead convicted paedophile Pic Credit: BBC and John Price


While the political world was convulsed over Brexit  Whitehall decided to remove one of  the major redactions in last year’s report by Lady Macur, an appeal judge, which reviewed the inquiry undertaken by Sir Ronald Waterhouse  in the 1990s into the scandal of child sex abuse in North Wales.

The redaction involves her investigation and findings into the  tribunal’s role  in investigating  Gordon Anglesea, a retired North Wales police superintendent, convicted of sexually abusing two teenage boys in October last year.

He is the superintendent who won £375,000 damages in 1994 ina libel case against two national newspapers, The Observer and the Independent on Sunday, the magazine Private Eye and HTV, the holder of the ITV franchise in Wales. His legal costs were underwritten by the Police Federation.

Anglesea claimed the four media organisations had accused him of being a child abuser during visits he made to the Bryn Estyn children’s home just outside Wrexham. He denied it and jury found for Anglesea.

The recent death of Anglesea – which meant he can’t appeal  his conviction last year- allows him to be named in her report for the first time. And the findings are interesting given the subsequent conviction of Anglesea by Operation Pallial, the National Crime Agency’s investigation and also the libel case in 1994.

The references to Anglesea are in the chapter on freemasonry. She examines the investigation carried out by the Witness Interviewing Team (WIT). This was headed  by Reginald Briggs, a retired Detective Chief Inspector who had served in the South Wales police force and was a Freemason.  She sees no conflict in  the tribunal employing a freemason to investigate another freemason. Gordon Anglesea was also a freemason.

“This Review has specifically considered whether there is anything within the material which suggests that the investigations made on behalf of the Tribunal into freemasonry was less thorough by reason of this fact. I have found nothing to suggest this was the case and illustrate the point below predominately in relation to two establishment figures identified during the course of the Tribunal as Freemasons, namely Gordon Anglesea and Lord Kenyon,” [ Lord Kenyon was a Provincial Grand Master, and a member of the North Wales Police Authority in the 1980s]

She accepts that one  survivor witness against Anglesea was difficult to trace and when finally contacted mentioned other people not him. Another witness who was in prison is described as ” fixated by Anglesea’s and his alleged involvement in a
paedophile ring.”

“The statement produced records his assertions that in 1991 he had seen part of a video featuring  Anglesea sexually abusing a boy and girl.

“The video had allegedly been stolen from a local Councillor subsequently prosecuted for
possession of a large quantity of pornography.

“He said he developed photographs from the video and sent them anonymously to the Chief Constable of the NWP.”

The tribunal concluded this witness was not credible and he was never called.

A lot of time was spent tracing people who might know Anglesea and about his visits to Bryn  Estyn including finding one freemason in the same lodge but he said he only knew him by sight.

The report adds: “However, more than one contributor to this Review still question whether enough was done to find evidence against Anglesea or to properly examine the links between freemasonry and the failure to investigate child abuse allegations.”

The inquiry was hampered by one witnesses refusing to give a statement and another witness was deemed to be unreliable despite evidence of Anglesea helping the notorious paedophile Peter Howarth, who ran the home and was subsequently jailed, line up boys. The tribunal was not certain whether he was there at the time.

She does add one very interesting piece of evidence that was witheld from the tribunal.

“I am aware that an allegation of a relatively minor indecent assault was made against Anglesea by an adult acquaintance of his family prior to the commencement of the Tribunal hearings.

“It appears that Counsel to the Tribunal was informed that “the CPS had decided to take no further action in the case on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to support criminal proceedings”, but apparently not of the fact that Anglesea had lied, on his own subsequent admission, when first interviewed under caution about the allegation.”

…” I wrote to the present Chief Constable of the NWP on 15 May 2015 in relation to this
non disclosure. The Chief Constable responded indicating that there is no material
in the possession of the NWP to indicate why the file was not disclosed, but that it is
possible that the file’s relevance to the issue of credibility was overlooked.

She concludes:”I regard the evidence that had lied when first interviewed under caution about the allegation of indecent assault against an adult acquaintance of the family was relevant to the issue of his credibility.

Counsel to the Tribunal do not appear to have been made aware of this fact and would have been at a disadvantage in justifying their request for disclosure. It is likely that the NWP overlooked the issue of credibility in favour of considering whether the facts of the
alleged offence constituted similar fact evidence.

“This information may have been significant in the Tribunal’s appraisal of his credibility and would have been ‘fresh’ evidence to that which had been available in the libel trial.”

In other words in a civil case which ended up  with the media paying out £375,000 damages – the fact that Anglesea was a proven liar could have swayed the jury to bring in a different verdict.

Her overall verdict is to exonerate the Tribunal. And she is not in favour of further reviews of other tribunals covering child  sex abuse and certainly not a public inquiry. She does not accept there were any paedophile rings involving Freemasons and VIPs- witholding the information from the public.

She is in favour of thorough police investigations – and perhaps mindful that the police might secure a conviction after her report- hedges her bets on this saying police investigations are better at solving complaints than public inquiries.

Her one other recommendation suggests the police should look at the perversion of course of justice and malfeasance in public office.

She concludes:

“In general, I would advise caution in embarking upon a review of the workings of previous tribunals or boards of inquiry without a considered opinion of the time likely to be involved and the consequent outcome to be achieved.

” The conclusions of a rapid investigation into a broad and complex topic will be unlikely to allay the concerns and anxieties of interested parties or the public in general.

“An exhaustive review will produce results that may no longer be relevant to the circumstances which initiated the investigation.

“In any event, it should be appreciated that the conclusions of any such body will not meet with universal approval. Those with an interest, personal or otherwise, will seek
justification for their views and be unlikely to accept the contrary.”

A very Establishment view, Lady Macur. The full report and written statement from Alun Cairns, the Wales Secretary is here.


Unreported by the national media: How some bosses can help if you are one of 2 million people enduring domestic abuse

Elizabeth Filkin

Elizabeth Filkin: chair of the steering group of the Employers Initiative on Domestic Abuse


This week the BBC hosted an extraordinary conference on how business and public employers can act to help employees if they are suffering the living hell of domestic abuse.

The conference attracted big names. Lord Hall, director general of BBC; Cressida Dick, Metropolitan Police Commissioner; Amber Rudd, the home secretary (by video); Ben Page, chief executive of ipsos MORI;Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, Chief of Defence People;Victoria Atkins,Home Office minister for crime and directors from accountancy giant, Grant Thornton, and Vodafone, the mobile phone provider.

It also was addressed by a remarkably brave woman,Serena, who told her story of both child sexual abuse and an adult abusive relationship, which led her unsympathetic employer to sack her and the actor and series producer of TV drama Holby City, whose story line included an abusive gay relationship which ended up with one partner being beaten up.

The event was organised by an organisation you have probably never heard of – the Employers’ Initiative  on Domestic Abuse – run by Elizabeth Filkin, a no nonsense figure who as Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards once took on Peter Mandelson and Keith Vaz over allegations of bad behaviour..

People might think what has business got to do with people’s personal lives – but what was noticeable was the firms that are backing the initiative had got involved after a traumatic event involving their staff.

Cressida Dick told the extraordinary story of how a very competent senior police officer in the Met rang her own switchboard to report that she was  a victim of domestic abuse. The police commissioner read out her testimony and described how she , though finding it an extremely difficult thing to do, is now coping with it

Another  big accountancy firm became involved after an employee jumped off London Bridge and committed suicide because they couldn’t cope with domestic abuse.

And a person attending from a hotel group told me they got involved after a young man attending a function was sexually abused when sleeping off the effects of too much alcohol on their premises. He went to the police, they decided they should join an organisation that dealt with abuse.

The BBC’s involvement comes some 18 months after the shock of the Jimmy Savile scandal – and ironically the conference was held in the same room where Tony Hall pledged to take action in the wake of Dame Janet Smith’s devastating findings on the issue.

Ad the Ministry of Defence actually tackles predators as well both those serving in the forces and those in the families of serving officers.

But they are the good ones. Ben Page told the conference that HR departments ” talked the good talk ” but often didn’t take any action or did not know how to to take action. Only one in twenty medium and large companies have a policy to deal with domestic abuse.

He described the present situation as akin to the position on mental health – which had been ignored by firms but was now accepted as an issue. He was an optimist saying ” In 10 years time all the misogynists will be dead ” – a point challenged by Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Yardley, who takes up domestic abuse issues, and is regularly trolled by people on the net.

Probably his most interesting admission was as chief executive of an organisation employing 1400 he did not know or had never come across a case of domestic abuse among his staff. He admitted that could not be the case.

His report makes a number of recommendations which could be included in the government’s new Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill- including removing the minimum qualifying period for domestic abuse victims to get flexible working and introducing  ten days paid leave a year for domestic abuse victims. The latter, he admitted, would lead to protests from the Tory right. I can just imagine MPs like the nappy change refusnik Jacob Rees Mogg having apoplexy.

The government is obviously keen on employers sharing responsibility. But below the surface there are huge issues of resources, the fate of women refuges, austerity, pressure on local authorities and the police and social services to handle this huge problem.

I shall return to some  of these issues in future blogs. But one point needs to be made. This conference was covered by none of the national media – not even the BBC who hosted it. Only The Telegraph and ITN did show some interest. And that is despite energetic efforts made by conference  organisers.

There is an interesting parallel. In the media industry – only the BBC and ITN – have  signed up  to the group which now numbers over 150 companies who are trying to help victims of domestic abuse.

So the entire national  and regional press and the major social media sites believe there is no problem with domestic abuse among their thousands of employees. A likely story. No wonder they didn’t cover it.







Footballer Justin Fashanu and the Westminster “back to basics” sex scandals

forbidden games

Forbidden Games; New film on Justin Fashanu available on demand from iTunes,, Google Play and Amazon


While mainstream media concentrated on the furore and fall out over the police investigation into  Sir Edward Heath, a new film revealing the troubled life of Britain’s first millionaire black footballer  with links to Westminster was released on Friday.

Forbidden Games charts the rivalry between the two footballing brothers Justin and John, Justin’s meteoric career, his fall from grace, his penchant for the high life and his coming out as gay.

It  reveals his links to the seedier side of Westminster, the exposure of his gay relationship with a Tory MP who lived a double life in Westminster hiding his gay sexuality from his wife and family until he was exposed but not named in The Sun.

Justin  Fashanu also had a penchant for under age boys ( much younger than 17) and tragically killed himself at the age of 37 when he was about to be prosecuted in the States for molesting a minor aged 17.

For today’s much more tolerant society people would not understand that in the 1980s and 1990s exposure in the tabloid press or on TV  for being gay was often the kiss of death to a political career. For a footballer to come out in a Sun exclusive –  and that is  true even today – was either extraordinarily brave or foolhardy.

Forbidden Games includes a cameo commentary from me on the context of Fashanu’s connections to Westminster where celebrities would party with MPs and which is in danger of being airbrushed in the current climate.

It coincided with former PM Sir John Major’s infamous ” back to basics” speech to the 1993 Tory conference which was then used by the media to expose a string of sexual scandals from minister Tim Yeo fathering a child out of wedlock , David Mellor’s  extra marital romp allegedly in a Chelsea football  stripe to the tragic  auto erotic death of Stephen Milligan ,  Tory MP for Eastleigh.

Justin Fashanu became involved in Westminster on two levels. His relationship with the Tory MP for Bournemouth east was revealed when the Sun exposed Justin’s connection to a ” South coast” Mp. His wife and children immediately realised that it was David Atkinson, as Justin had stayed regularly at their home. He was confronted by her and he admitted he was gay and had been for years.. He stood down in 2005 and died in 2012.

An article by Robert Mendick in the Daily Telegraph based on an interview with  his son Anthony  who describes him as “predatory” with many young lovers, and reveals much of the background from his own researches on his father.

From examination of the story myself,  there is evidence that Atkinson was being blackmailed by a member of the Commons catering staff, had relationships with young Parliamentary researchers ( one of whom he had a nude photo) and had an erotic photo sheet  of another person he was closely connected.

There was also as yet unverified allegations of a much wider hidden gay scene at Westminster involving other closeted MPs  which Justin at one stage – following the death of Stephen Milligan – threatened to expose for a large sum of money to the tabloids,.

He backed off when the police visited his home in Edinburgh and wanted to interview him about it.

What this sad story  does  is to contradict the trend, following the collapse of Scotland Yard’s  Operation Midland into the allegations brought by ” Nick”,  of a Westminster paedophile ring, to try and forget this piece of Westminster’s sordid history as though it never happened.

While there is no conclusive evidence that David Atkinson was himself a paedophile ( in the modern sense of boys under the age of 16) it seems certain that some of the people he knew were.

This moving film about the troubled life of Justin is well worth watching even if it does make uncomfortable viewing at times.

See a trailer and interview with one of the directors, Jon Carey – the other is Adam Darke  – here on Sky Sports.




Hidden in plain sight: Labour trains a new generation of political activists

labour_conference Pic credit politicshome

Labour Conference 2017: the top of the iceberg Pic credit: politicshome


The Labour  Party conference this year was like one huge political iceberg.

The ten per cent that was visible was dominated by the passionate, football chant style support for Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell – as the architects of a Labour revival that had seen membership soar to 569,500. It did unveil new and radical policies.It suppressed a public row over Brexit  which I notice Danny Finkelstein on The Times saw as shrewd politics, leaving divided Tories to take the flak. It contained a dispute about whether there was anti-Semitism among  Left wingers despite the best efforts of Guido Fawkes ,the Daily Mail and the Equality and Human Rights Commission to stir the pot.

But under the eyes of the media ( who were given very restricted access to the conference hall) the hidden 90 per cent of the Labour conference was carrying out another revolution which will ensure that the current revival of political activism among the young has a long term future.

Contrary to what most Conservatives would like to think the 369,000 new party members who joined after Corbyn became leader are not all former card carrying members of the Social Workers Party, the Communist Party and other Left wing groupings. And they even applies to those who joined Momentum

Just on a micro political point, members of the local Labour Party in Berkhamsted and Tring in  Hertfordshire have jumped from about 40 to 450 as a result of Corbyn.. If they were all committed former Communists, I think I would have noticed. Having lived in Berko since 1983, the town is not known for having Marxist banners festooned all over Berkhamsted station or the civic centre.

No the truth is – thanks to lack of any political  or civic education in our schools – they have ideals, strong views but little hard knowledge of how to participate in a political democracy. Many may be savvy with social media but need to know how to use it for the benefit of the Labour Party.

There were sessions on door knocking, electoral law, what becoming a councillor is like. making Labour Party branch meetings more fun, championing equality, building up women’s forums,  getting more disabled friendly meetings and how to use the traditional and social media to get your points across. There was also advice on how to tackle the problem of success, too many new members swamping local meetings.

Jeremy Corbyn has already transformed interest in politics by doubling the percentage of people involved in party membership in Britain. Now it looks as though Labour is going to get the new membership to engage in democracy. to help them win the next election. Even if only 10 per cent of the membership become fervent activists – that is still some 57,000 people – more than half the total Tory membership, I am told.

What is going to be interesting is when that hidden 90 per cent of the Labour iceberg hits  the opposition at the next election. Will it be the  sinking of the Tory Titanic or will the Tories try and steer well clear and come up with something new.