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Mo (2010) by Neil MacKay. C4

The private life and death of Labour Party heroine Mo Mowlam is brought to the screen by Neil MacKay


She was hailed as a people’s politician and someone who was in tune with the public more than most. She certainly had the common touch and was wildly popular both in the Party and in the country as a whole.


She always topped the NEC poll and I voted fro her every time.

She was old Labour by heart but sensible enough to see the way that Kinnock and then Blair were taking us in terms of being electable.


She would have done much better in a Kinnock Administration (as would Robin Cook) as she was a real Party person and her values reflected this.


However, I felt she let the popularity go to her head. She told Albright "Price worth Paying" Clinton’s Secretary of State that she like Madeline was "too popular" and suffered as a result.


This stemmed from the 98 Party Conference when she got a standing ovation during HIS speech. Apparently Tony Blair was well and truly put out and moved her to the doldrums of the Cabinet Office.


But the sad truth is that Mo’s potty mouth and annoying stunts just didn’t sit well with either side. But she did get to tell Paisley to fuck off and call Martin McGuinnes a bastard to his face. Repeatedly.


IN addition she relied far too much on Adam Ingram over the details as, like Blair she was a brush strokes politician leaving the implementation to others.


As for her time in Ulster….


Difficult to evaluate. She let the residents down during the 97 Drumcree stand off by forcing the Orange March down the Garvaghy road.


Well that was impression everyone had due to the reaction of the Residents Association. But what actually happened provides in microcosm an example of how Sinn Fein/IRA work in terms of terrorising their own community and allowing thug rule to be the order of the day.


In July 97 we had just come to power and the surge of optimism heralded a restoration of the IRA ceasefire, which had broken down on the mainland in Feb 96 due to the Major Government’s preoccupation with clinging to power with the help of David Trimble.


The Parade’s Commission was about to rule re the annual Drumcree fiasco but Mo decided to meet the residents and the Orange retards to sort it out in "twin track" talks.


A deal was reached which involved a silent march for the last time.


However when the Residents Committee returned to the table the personnel were different.


A Coup had been engineered so the Committee had been "persuaded" to change its line up. In other words the IRA were now the committee.


They realised that Orange Order in a standoff with the RUC, demanding to parade down the Garvaghy Road, could only serve to make the whole Protestant population look like the Billy Wright fan club. When of course nothing could be further from the truth.


So Mo was made by the RUC to force the parade through. Cue "Nationalists as victims".


In "revenge" the house of a mixed couple in Ballymoney was fire bombed and three little boys died. But Sinn Feinn/IRA had the propaganda coup.


Words fail me when thinking about Adams and especially McGuinness. Horrible evil people.


Mowlem referred to them in glowing terms in her book. I realise there has to realpolitik and an element of "Les Mains Sales" but fucking hell. These people are swimming in blood and think nothing of giving the orders to kill others whilst maintaining a respectable air. Adams reminds me of Stalin in his "Uncle Joe" period. All relaxed with a pipe whilst terrorising vulnerable people who thought he was a hero.


Mo took a hell of risk when at Christmas 97 she went into the Maze to deal directly with the UVF leadership. It worked and they were fully on board going into the talks which resulted in Good Friday. She deserves credit for that and gave a springboard for Blair and Ahern, with Clinton, to thrash out the deal.


She had reached her peak by then and started to believe the hype. She wasn’t the best on detail and was impatient to a fault so I think a big portfolio would have seen her wanting.


Nevertheless she helped us reconnect with people and helped keep Blair real.


Her illness was dealt with in shocking detail here and I can relate perfectly to her denial of the bleedin obvious, but she paid the price at the end by refusing to use a wheelchair and deliberately defying her doctors. Who would do such a thing?


What stung me the most was the way, Ingram apart the Labour big wigs kept well away from her at the end. Ingram went to her precisely because it was difficult, because it hurt him to see her like that and because he knew how much she craved company.


The portrayal of Mandleson was lazy, prince of darkness stuff but we would do well to remember that 13 years of Labour Government is largely down to him, and when we are returned in May for another five years then people will “start to love Peter Mandleson”.


This was a strong piece, the history was spot on and the cast did a good job, especially Julie Walters in the title role.


About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.


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