Gerald Kaufman, who has died aged 86, was instrumental in saving the Labour Party, back when the Labour Party was something that could still be saved.
It was Kaufman who pithily pegged the 1983 manifesto as ‘the longest suicide note in history’. He knew the phrase would hang around the far-left and dog any attempt to dodge responsibility for the calamity.
In his heart, he was a radical, but he parted ways with the 1980s Labour left in its mush-headed confusion of ends and means. The mush is now party policy but Kaufman expended considerable wit keeping it at bay during the Kinnock years. A multilateralist, the former Daily Mirror journalist rained scorn on comrades who agitated for unilateral nuclear disarmament:
‘Do they really believe that if we gave up Trident, the eight other nuclear weapons powers would say, “Good old Britain! They have done the right thing. We must follow suit”? Pull the other one!’.