Having spoken alongside Mhairi at a few meetings, and much admired her, it is rather strange to find her in danger of becoming an object of cult veneration. Just as with Nicola Sturgeon, it seems the shock of seeing the coherent and intelligent articulation of views outside the narrow consensus manufactured by the corporate media and political class, really does strike home to people. They almost never get to hear such views put; Mhairi is being given a hearing because of her youth in her position, but the marginalisation and ridicule will soon kick back in. Above all, Mhairi should remind us of how the Labour Party has completely sold out those they used to represent, and abandoned the task of proposing an intellectually compelling alternative to trickledown.
Jeremy Corbyn and the small group around him are of course an honourable exception.
You will recall that I managed to fall asleep on the platform in Perth while Mhairi was answering a question, embarrassingly revealed when the chairman passed the question to me! It really was nothing to do with Mhairi, I was exhausted. The question, as it happened, was asked by Joanna Cherry, who also just made a first class maiden speech.
The Labour Party has finally woken up to oppose something the Tory Party is doing, in the new draconian and unnecessary anti-union legislation. This is not because they really want to protect workers; the only thing that has motivated Labour to action is a threat to their own funding.
The Tory anti-union proposals are shocking. Criminalising peaceful secondary picketing is an infringement of the right of free expression and undoubtedly open to challenge under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The proposal that not just a majority of those voting, but 40% of the qualified electorate must vote yes for a strike to go ahead, is beyond belief, coming from a government who have an absolute majority on the basis of the votes of just 23% of the electorate. The hypocrisy is absolutely stunning.
The part of the proposed legislation I do support is on party political funding by unions. It should be by opt-in not opt-out. A majority of members must vote for a donation to a political party. That seems to me absolutely right and fair.
Precisely the same principle should be applied to company shareholders, of whom a majority should specifically have to endorse a political donation by the company. Where a shareholder is institutional, that shareholder must too base its vote only on a vote taken by a majority of its own shareholders specifically in each case, or its members if a mutual.
So if Tesco wants to donate to the Tory party, that must be specifically approved by a majority of Tesco shareholders. If Aviva is one of those shareholders, Aviva can only vote for Tesco to donate, if a majority of Aviva shareholders vote to do so. And so on down the chain ad infinitum.
That would be entirely fair and strike a massive blow at the corporate state/political party nexus. Then more real people like Mhairi would be able to become prominent in public life.