2nd December 1994 at 00:00
Compared with the fun and games enjoyed by the Conservatives during the past couple of weeks, Labour's activities show an astonishing degree of unity.

But a teensy crack has appeared in the facade, courtesy of author, bon viveur and former deputy leader Roy Hattersley.

Having stated his intention to stand down as MP for Birmingham Sparkbrook at the next election, Mr H has perhaps not been so assiduously a party animal recently.

There was therefore some little frisson of surprise when he waded into the last meeting of the Parliamentary Labour party as a man with a mission. The target in his sights? David Blunkett, the shadow education secretary.

As Mr H spluttered, it became apparent that the object of his increasing ire was Mr B's public position on school league tables. "They are essentially a Tory creation to set school against school," he fumed, fulminating that there should have been a far more extensive discussion within the party before Mr Blunkett went public with his reversing of predecessor Ann Taylor's policy.

Although conciliatory, Mr B gave as good as he got, pointing out - apologetically - that he was merely restating the position of Labour as it had been under Jack Straw, his predecessor but one.

But at least Mr B does not use his visually challenged state as a defence against attacks by colleagues worried about being considered politically incorrect. During this year's conference, one political sketchwriter - who shall remain nameless - remarked that the backdrop looked as though David Blunkett had designed it.

Told of this Mr B - the conference chair - laughed uproariously. And then a thought struck him. "I'll have to make a joke of this otherwise he'll have a miserable time for the rest of the week," he mused.

Duly, Mr B made a few cracks about the decor and how he might have been thought responsible. Much to the horror of certain members of the conference. "They thought he really should not have been making jokes about being blind, " explains a Labour mole.

Over at the National Union of Teachers, life appears to have reverted to its customary uneasy truce. The ambitions of Mary Hufford to remain deputy general secretary may be dead, but supporters are refusing to lie down for the incumbent, the Blairish Steve Sinnott.

To outsiders, the election campaigns appeared fairly civilised - at least by union standards - but the Hufford camp are not happy bunnies and there are at least three other casualties. Curiously, they are three officers from the Teachers' Benevolent Fund - an organisation as sacrosanct as the Queen Mum to the NUT - who felt they should resign after the Charities Commission investigated the sending out of pro-Sinnott letters using TBF address labels. The TBF itself emerged squeaky-clean.

Ms Hufford herself has muttered darkly about "smears and attacks" being made on her during the campaign but some have gone further.

One emerges from the gloom to tell Carborundum: "It was character assassination. She's been made out to be ultra-leftish, but politically she's just Labour." Which end of Labour? "Someone like Clare Short," hisses our mole thoughtfully, adding: "Whereas Mr Sinnott has a background in Maoism."

Warming to the attack, the Hufford Deep Throat continues: "She's been smeared by people saying she's incompetent - but she's actually cleared up the mess in the subscriptions department. She's been blackguarded. It's been poisonous. "

Carborundum picked up the phone to ask a Sinnott sidesperson about these smears, swiftly denied. "She's referring to the fact that a large number of us sent out personal letters saying if you want to have a non-partisan representative type for deputy general secretary, now is your chance. When she stood for general secretary she'd been saying 'make a change', and that is exactly what we were doing." The Sinnott backer says they simply ran a professional campaign.

But it seems the acrimony may not settle quickly. While the mainly Broad Left executive will discuss Ms Hufford's future at its meeting next week - which may include another job offer or a redundancy package - the lady has indicated she may stand for president in the future. "The day before the vote, someone suggested she could stand for the DGS job at that right-wing lot the Association of Teachers and Lecturers," whispers a NUT-ite gleefully. "She went puce." And the problem remains of the current president, who just happens to be Steve Sinnott.

Meanwhile, one Hufford-supporting Machiavelli is looking deep into the future and firing off apocalyptic warnings. "Doug McAvoy will become a lame-duck general secretary. And although the Broad Left controls the executive at the moment, I expect the Left will do so soon. People on the Left hate Steve Sinnott. I predict fireworks." Lots more stories for Carborundum, then.

SCAA watchers were afforded a rare treat last week: a photograph of former Rear of the Year Anneka Rice embracing a faintly bemused Sir Ron Dearing. Of course, it had nothing to do with the success of the national curriculum but something far sexier: the Lottery, of which Sir Ron is also a supremo.

A mischievous mole reveals the reason why Sir Ron, famous for being happily and faithfully wed, was on the receiving end of such a sumptuous embrace. "Anneka Rice was supposed to be introducing him but forgot his name. She got as far as, 'I'd like to introduce to launch the Lottery ...' and then dried up." Apparently the gallant Sir Ron rushed forward and said: "It must be me" - a variation on the Lottery's "It Could Be You" theme - and as our informant put it "got an extra-special hug from Anneka". Can't see Gillian Shephard doing the same, somehow.

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