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Back to the future

WELCOME TO the future! If it all seems a bit scary, don't worry. The Diary is a bit nervous too.

The crystal ball is decidedly hazy at the moment - all we can vaguely see are tests, targets and grumbling union leaders.

But one prediction we tentatively make is that David Blunkett's special adviser, Conor Ryan, will soon be back at his master's side. He'll have to be. Things are going to pot in his absence.

Conor left last month to head Frank "Dobbo" Dobson's ailing mayoral campaign. Now we find the kind of piece the spinmeister would never have lethis old boss write in Tribune, the Labour left paper.

In it, Blunkett gives a very off-message kicking to a pet Labour project... the London mayor. Policies are more important than candidates, he claims outrageously, and contrasts the commitment of party rank-and-file and trade unionists with the "spectacle" of the selection campaign.

Of course the whole point about the selection - where members' votes only count for a third, and trade unionists don't have to be balloted - is that it favours Dobbo. Expect slapped wrists when Conor gets back.

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