Last week, I hosted a dinner with the Chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee, Iain Wright. During the discussion, it struck me that the Labour Party's attitude to MPs like Iain says a lot about its lack of determination to get back into Government.
If you haven't met Iain, he is impressive and approachable. He also struck me as having the most valuable asset in politics - authenticity. Iain is not perfect, but he is capable, he can win over new supporters for Labour, and he might even be able to convert a few former opponents.
Clearly, a majority of MPs also think he has got something useful to offer, or they would not have elected him to chair an important and influential Select Committee. But there's the rub: it is not clear at all that the Labour leadership appreciates MPs who can reach beyond the converted and help the grassroots understand why some people shudder at the thought of a Marxist Prime Minister.
Having met both Iain Wright and Peter Mandelson (who previously held his seat in the North East) I can honestly say there are any number of major differences between the two. But there is also a fierce irony that it's still the case that the Labour Party will have changed for the better when it learns to love the MP for Hartlepool.