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Labour clings to the good old days

Online biogs in denial

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New Labour may be out of government – but not according to the personal websites of several of their leading lights.

On Monday, we reported on attempts by former Identity Minister, Meg Hillier to derail coalition attempts to unpick Labour’s Identity Card plans. We were amused to note that according to her site, she was still claiming to be a junior Minister in the Home Office. But not for long: evidently Ms Hillier does read The Reg, and within hours, the claim had vanished.

What, though, of other ex-Ministers?

Step forward "former" Foreign Secretary and likely next leader of the Labour Party, David Milliband. Under "Biography - Current Role" there is a description of his job as Foreign Secretary, together with a helpful link to the Foreign Office Organisation chart.

Lest there be any room for doubt, the section headed "Biography – Previous Role" starts: "My first job is to represent South Shields in Parliament. But I am also privileged to be a member of the Government as Foreign Secretary." No, David. Not since 11 May you haven’t!

Perhaps standing for the Labour leadership is a time-consuming sort of activity. Next up, we browsed the site of Andy Burnham, another candidate for the post. On his site, next to a picture of him blowing a rather large trumpet, it states that he "was appointed as Secretary of State for Health in June 2009". No mention of the fact that the health portfolio was handed to Tory Andrew Lansley a couple of months ago.

Similar sleight of hand over at Paul Goggins’ biography, which proudly proclaims that in “May 2007 he was promoted to Minister of State for Northern Ireland". Of course, both of these claims – by Burnham and Goggins – are technically true, but some might consider they would be a little more accurate if they also added an end date.

Meanwhile, ejection from parliament appears to play havoc with an individual’s sense of reality. Vera Baird is former solicitor general; she also held some responsibility for the North East in government.

Former? Not according to her site, which explains to passers-by how to "either read more about or get in touch with Vera in her work as Solicitor General". There are also details about how to "get in touch about Vera’s work as Deputy Regional Minister for The North East", including a parliamentary phone number which, sadly, appears now unobtainable.

Another old friend who has not yet caught up with current events is former Home Secretary and former MP for Redditch County Constituency, Jacqui Smith. Leading on the somewhat plaintive appeal to local voters, that “today's election could be the closest for a generation - and in this constituency your vote will really count”, Smith’s home page appears not to have been updated since May 4 – the day before the good voters of that constituency summarily ejected her.

A serious contender for the "you could not make it up" stakes, her home page also contains a link to "Jacqui’s video library" – although a cursory glance at this page suggests that the hottest stuff available here features Smith addressing various conferences on exciting topics such as youth crime and policing.

Smith is not the only New Labourite still preparing for the election. Hazel Blears, Labour MP for Salford and Eccles "will be fighting this year’s General Election on bringing jobs to Salford and giving communities a stronger say".

Another failure to update? Or perhaps a highly realistic view of the likely staying power of the Lib Con coalition? ®

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