I'm not a fan of Hazel Blears. I've always found her smug, patronising, and packed full of nauseating doublethink. She's so irritatingly on-message that I even backed her for the deputy-leadership, as the candidate most likely to damage Labour's standing in the country.
Well, she's excelled herself today. Speaking at the Labour Party conference earlier on, she called Boris Johnson a "fogeyish, bigoted and upper-class twit". A conference hall full of New Labour muppets laughed, and gave her a round of applause.
I'm sure Labour and Lib Dem supporters (and a fair few Tories, I'll bet!) would be horrified to see Boris running Europe's largest city. But how on earth is it acceptable for Hazel Blears to use a class slur against the Tories' mayoral frontrunner?
You can call Boris Johnson a lot of things. He's bumbling. He's incompetent. His rather careless way with words has caused offence - unthinkingly, rather than maliciously, but hurtful nonetheless - to entirely blameless people. And compared to Brian Paddick, he knows very little about policing. These are all completely legitimate reasons to oppose Boris's candidacy. But his social background should be entirely off-limits.
In a fair society, everyone should be judged on their own personal merits and achievements. Nobody chooses their parents or their family, so it's entirely wrong to take their heritage into account. But that cuts both ways. If it's unacceptable to smear someone for having working class parents, it's equally wrong to label somebody a "toff" because their parents happened to be rich.
If Boris had smeared Ken Livingstone by calling him a "working-class twit", we would be up in arms. Ken didn't choose his parents or his background, and they can't be held against him. Hazel Blears would put on her smuggest face, walk up to the nearest camera, and talk about Tory prejudice, bias and bigotry. So how can she attack Boris for being "upper-class", and expect to get away with it? She's guilty of prejudice, pure and simple: bullying someone for circumstances entirely beyond their control, and beyond their choosing.
There are plenty of legitimate criticisms of Boris Johnson, but his parentage isn't one of them. And for a Labour MP - a Labour MP - to pour scorn on somebody's upbringing, when the Labour movement has been fighting for over a century to stop children being left behind in society, simply because they were born into under-privileged backgrounds - well, it just beggars belief.
I say this in all seriousness: she should resign, and if she doesn't resign, Gordon Brown should withdraw the whip from her.