Labour is always vulnerable attacking Tory politicians for having been educated at independent schools – due to the simple point that many Labour MPs were too. Cllr Jake Morrison, a Labour councillor on Liverpool City Council, has sent a complaint to Ed Miliband about Luciana Berger, the Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree and Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change, which makes such a swipe.
Cllr Morrison says:
As Leader you have made it very clear that you would like to see a more representative parliament. Here we have in Luciana, a privately educated MP from London, who has came to Liverpool and made my life unbearable. At every opportunity Luciana has undermined me, rather than supported. This is in contrast to other MPs, most supportively Maria Eagle, who even offered me a post in her constituency office working part-time, which was perfect.
Luciana Berger's arrival to this City was not a comfortable one. It was covered in questions and claims of parachuting in candidates from London. And do you know what – I still campaigned every single day during the long campaign in the Wavertree constituency.
Attacking someone for where they went to school is pretty unreasonable. However Mr Miliband is not well placed to deprecate such attacks.
Anyway, what had Miss Berger done to make Cllr Morrison's life "unbearable"? She had demanded he attend a training session with Arnie Graf, a former advisor to Barack Obama.
Miss Berger emailed Cllr Morrison to say:
I understand from your tweets that you have been knocking on members' doors. As you will be aware from the many emails that Sheila has sent you, and which you have sadly ignored, we have had a training session with Arnie Graf from which the Wavertree CLP Members' ID scheme was launched, and we now have a very comprehensive agreed script and process. Indeed we went out on Tuesday with an Old Swan councillor to start the activity off, and which was very successful.
You have not replied to any of the emails confirming your availability for the summer campaign which includes member engagement. You have not visited the office to collect a copy of the script, which includes a list of all the forthcoming CLP events which we are inviting members to.
I can understand Miss Berger's annoyance at Cllr Morrison missing the training session.
Mr Graf is a big shot, a legendary figure. He is trying to help the Labour Party become more outward looking, less narrow. He wants it to be a Party that spends less time talking to itself about procedural points and more time out in the community.
Part of Mr Graf's message is that policy should come from the bottom up rather than the top down. So rather than being huddled in Westminster with Mr Miliband and the other big wigs Mr Graf decided to go to Liverpool to find out what it was all about. Then Cllr Morrison doesn't show up.
On the other hand Miss Berger's response was rather petulant. A bit of New Labour control freak bossiness, circa 1996. Should we really be banishing volunteers who use their own words rather than the "agreed script and process" and for being so blatant about it as to not visit the office "to collect a copy of the script." At least Cllr Morrison was still willing to knock on doors. By all means try different techniques, but with volunteers there needs to be some tolerance of people who feel more comfortable helping out in their own way.
I wonder what Mr Graf makes of it all.