Alan Johnson: the ex-mod in a sharp Italian suit

I’m still monitoring media mentions of Alan Johnson from my time last year when I acted as his Director of Communications during the Labour Party deputy leadership campaign. I had to smile when I read this reference in the Financial Times:

Mohair man

By Brian Groom

Published: June 3 2008 03:00 | Last updated: June 3 2008 03:00

Yet another tale from John Monks, general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (much more of this and I will be handing the entire column over to him). This concerns Alan Johnson, the health secretary, fancied by some as a potential prime minister and described by Mr Monks as “by far the best bet in the humour leadership stakes”.

The first time he met the former communication workers’ leader was at a union conference’s Lancashire night (“I swear I am not one for overdoing northern nostalgia,” avers Mr Monks). “I had just entered the reception and was expecting to meet Johnson there for the first time. In came an ex-mod in a sharp Italian suit, to be greeted by a steward who, I guess, came from somewhere near Blackburn. He said: “Hey up, Johnson, where did you get that suit?” Alan leaned forward and invited the steward to feel the cloth, saying: “It is mohair. I don’t think you have it up north.”

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