This must have been one of the most unpleasantly jingoistic, rightwing rabble-rousers a Labour conference has heard in quite a few years. This was Britishness as from the Millwall terraces. "No no-go areas," he boomed: "We will go where we please, we will discuss what we like." No fool, he's hard to fault on particulars: the poison is all in the sentiment and tone. How proudly he gloated that Cameron had found his policies too extreme. Indeed, if he was one of Cameron's team, that speech would have got him fired.
Reformed old communists have this in common: when they swing the other way, they always go that bit too far. They never take off their combat kit: the progressive social democratic gene is alien to their psyche. So there was nothing progressive about his performance yesterday.
Roy Hattersley will not be alone: his threat to shoot himself if Reid becomes leader could turn into a mass die-in of Labour supporters.
So far as I can tell, Ms Toynbee is arguing that Dr Reid would not be a suitable choice as Tony Blair's successor. Her reasoning is as tendentious as her generalisation about reformed old Communists (progressive social democracy presumably being alien to André Gide and Denis Healey, as well as my particular hero Sidney Hook, never a party member but who supported the Communist candidate for American President in 1932). I thought Reid gave a good speech, and while the evidence of his political judgement is inconclusive despite the number of ministerial posts he has held, I hope he stands for the leadership and wins. Ms Toynbee's criticisms nicely illustrate a fissure on the Left that is well worth opening up further.
I hold liberal views on most of the standard social issues that exercise Guardian readers and columnists. I part company with some of them in their solicitude for the sensibilities of those threatened by "Islamophobia" (an absurdly question-begging term that Ms Toynbee herself, unlike some of her colleagues, rightly scorns) and the civil liberties of the demonstrably shady. After the 7/7 bombings, Charles Krauthammer rightly observed in his Washington Post column:
Early news reports of the London bombings mentioned that police found no suspects among known Islamist cells in Britain. Come again? Why in God's name is a country letting known Islamist cells thrive, instead of just rolling them up?
Quite. I've been highly critical of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner for his obstructiveness in investigating the police killing of a young man wrongly believed to be a suicide terrorist. If Sir Ian Blair spent more time investigating, cracking open and cracking down on Islamist fractions, he would be dealing with, as it were, the root causes of terrorism rather than risking the lives of the innocent on the streets and on public transport. I'm pleased the Home Secretary, like the Prime Minister, plainly has the right instincts to get the police to do the job.