(1982. Michael Foot realises the next general election is all but lost. He strolls down Walworth Road with a young party worker by the name of Peter. They discuss Labour’s future.)
Michael: Sense of foreboding, young Peter?
Peter: Beg your pardon?
Michael: 1984, my boy. Just around the corner.
Peter: 1984. Yes. (Contrived) Brrrrr....
Michael: Know it’s just a book, but...
Michael: Even though Eric Blair - George Orwell to you and me- wrote it thirty years ago, still sends a shiver down my spine.
Michael: Oh, yes.
Peter: Why would that be, if you don’t mind my asking?
Michael: Because it’s possible, my boy. Because it’s possible.
Peter: What’s possible?
Michael: Orwell wasn’t making it up. He’d seen how these people operate.
Peter: What people?
Michael: The far left.
Peter: I thought most historians and critics had revised their view. Assumed the threat would ultimately come from the far right.
Michael: Left-right, right-left. Doesn’t really matter, does it, Peter? It’s about how extremists organise in order to grab power.
Peter: Don’t see that happening any time soon, do you?
Michael: Indeed. I don’t have a crystal ball. But...
Michael: (Hesistant) Peter... People tell me you know a thing or two about the Militant Tendency
Peter: (Laughs nervously) You could say that.
Michael: And what’ll happen to them, do you think... If the party ever manages to rid itself of them?
Peter: Tell me. I’m game.
Michael: No one can say for sure, of course. But one thing I do know is that they won’t go quietly.
Michael: Perhaps the wrong word. What I meant is that they won’t go.
Michael: Denis Healey and I were turning this one over a while back. You’re probably aware that once upon a time Denis was a somewhat darker shade of pink. As were many of us.
Michael: Right... Well... to continue, Denis and I were wondering whether they will re-invent themselves, these Militants. Make themselves more voter friendly. Rebrand is the word they use nowadays, I do believe. It means taking on a new name, a new logo, is it?
Peter: Yes, a logo.
Michael: A logo that people are more comfortable with... something that sounds perhaps more... conservative.
Peter: Interesting proposition.
Michael: Terrifying proposition, I’d say, Peter.
Peter: Yes , terrifying. (Cheerily) Shivers down the spine stuff indeed (A grin appears on his face. He quickly suppresses it.)
Michael: The dreadful thing is, my boy, the dreadful thing...
Peter: Yes, Michael.
Michael: I sometimes fear that there are some in the party who have read Orwell’s great work... and who have come to look upon it not as a prophecy, not as a warning but...
Peter: (Eagerly) Yes?
Michael: But as a training manual, Peter. As a blueprint, as a manifesto... as a mission statement...
(to be continued)