I handed in my application for the General Secretary job at party HQ this morning. The women at reception were clearly making at eyes at me. I told them Labour will only win the next election if we utilise the modern online campaigning techniques I invented during the Bernie Sanders campaign. ‘Why’s your application in a brown A4 envelope then?’ one of them asked. She’ll regret that when I’m elected. ‘Nothing is as effective as face to face contact’, I replied. ‘Bernie taught me that!’ In fact, it was I who taught Bernie that, as anyone on his campaign will testify. But self-deprecation has always been one of my best qualities. I think that’s why every member of the NEC told me privately after they interviewed me for the GS post in 2011 that I should have got the job. And the simple truth is I would have done – had any of them voted for me.
Had to pop into Specsavers today for some new glasses. It’s ironic that I need them because everyone tells me I’ve always been a visionary. Someone once said I was so far-sighted I could see the stars without a telescope. That somebody was Tony Blair. But enough about the past – we need to focus on the future. I know better than anyone that the new politics requires a radical new approach. I tell myself that every morning when I’m getting dressed in front of my full-length mirror while my wife prepares my breakfast and my children apply a final layer of shoe polish to my leather attaché case. It’s important to look professional when you’re turning politics on its head. That’s probably why Barack Obama asked me which tailor I used when we first met in the early 2000s. He hasn’t looked back since.
You’re probably not aware that I revolutionised the Internet and transformed politics simultaneously at Avaaz and 38 Degrees by putting petitions online for people to sign. For all their supposed brilliance, It’s an idea that eluded Tim Berners-Lee, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. But I’m not in this to blow my own trumpet – there are people queuing up to do that for me. I came into politics to help people less fortunate than myself, which – as Yanis Varoufakis once pointed out to me over breakfast in Athens – is more or less everyone. People who don’t have a voice need someone to speak up on their behalf. That’s quite a good line isn’t it? It popped into my head earlier today while I was deleting some old PowerPoint presentations from my MacBook. Cicero wouldn’t have had it so easy if he’d had me as a contemporary.
Jon Lansman has been calling me again, pledging his support. I’ll have to turn my phone off if this continues. Jon made a name for himself by founding Momentum, although everyone knows it was my idea. I don’t hold it against him. He’s an old guy who needs something to keep him occupied in his retirement – a bit like Jeremy. That’s why Labour needs someone as dynamic as me to be General Secretary. We are a broad church but only I can bring rival factions together. Tony Blair and Jeremy Corbyn don’t agree on much, but both of them have told me to my face that I’m ‘a tool’. I was incredibly insulted, but then a friend pointed out that it’s tools that build things. And we are building a movement that will transform society. That friend goes by the name of Bono, by the way. Did I mention he’s a big fan?
Let me be clear about one thing; I’ve always thought it was time we had a woman as General Secretary. If I could think of any women who are as well-qualified as me, I’d be urging them to apply in a heartbeat. I know lots of great women: Scarlett Johansson, Angela Merkel, Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga: I’ve mentored them, I’ve learned from them, and I want to bring some of their great qualities to my bid to be General Secretary. For me, that’s what feminism is all about: making sure that the men at the top of important organisations know some women, know what’s right for women and say the right things about women. That’s why I’m putting myself forward: to make the case that, in the not too distant future, we should have women in top jobs. I don’t believe anyone is better placed than I am to demonstrate that Labour needs a woman General Secretary – and if I’m appointed, I promise that within weeks that’s what everyone will be saying.
* as told to Red Roar