The name was on the tip of our tongues.
Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner suggested Harold Wilson, but neither of us thought that sounded quite right.
We were chatting in Parliament trying to remember who said: “The language of priorities is the religion of socialism.”
Yes, us political anoraks really do stand around having that kind of conversation.
Perhaps we need to get a life.
The answer was Nye Bevan, founder of the NHS, and the Labour Party’s greatest post-war hero.
As Labour begins its soul searching over why everything went so catastrophically wrong , first indications suggest not giving voters clear priorities for government played its part in stopping Jeremy Corbyn forming one.
Was it nationalisation of public services and utilities? A huge job on its own.
Or free full-fibre broadband for all at a cost of £20billion?
Or compensation for the Waspi women for lost pensions at £58billion?
While certain promises were attractive - up to £31,000 for 3.8million Waspis was tempting indeed - the package as a whole seemed an undeliverable mishmash of wildly expensive goodies.
So it wasn’t just Corbyn’s “honest broker” Brexit position which Nye anticipated 20 years before the UK even joined the Common Market when he said: “People who stay in the middle of the road get run down.”
Blaming Brexit for defeat is like citing the Falklands for the failure of Labour’s last foray into red in tooth and claw socialism under Michael Foot.
In 2019, as in 1983, the voters gave the offer of socialist revolution two fingers.
Britain does not want it and the next Labour leader must grasp that.
Nye’s creation of the welfare state in 1948 was very much about priorities, and top of the list was universal health care free at the point of use which changed everyone’s life.
Winston Churchill might have motivated the voters in wartime, but he failed to prepare for peace.
They returned from battle knowing what they’d fought against, but unsure of the kind of country they were fighting for because Churchill never told them.
It was the 1945 Labour government which showed the way, by making the nation voters came home to better than the one they left.
If Labour is not to be out in the cold for a decade its new leader cannot rely on a strategy of one more push to create a socialist paradise.
The message of hope must be credible.
Bevan also said: “Toryism is organised spivvery.”
For the next five years we must endure Spiv-in-Chief Boris Johnson as organiser.
But Labour must not allow five to turn into ten.
Things can only get Greta
I was Christmas shopping and piles of Greta Thunberg books were everywhere.
There’s Greta’s speeches and Greta’s memoirs.
Not bad for a 16 year old.
Can’t be long now before we get Greta’s Vegan Cookbook, Greta’s Keep Fit, and Weather Forecasting with Greta.
While I find the teenager’s hectoring irritating I do now buy her climate change message as the planet faces its sixth mass extinction.
The first, 439 million years ago caused by glaciation, wiped out 86 per cent of life, while the third due to volcanic eruptions, was worse, killing 96 per cent of living things.
And 65 million years ago No5 was a monster asteroid which did in the dinosaurs.
This paved the way for us.
And even before the wheel was invented we’d driven half the planet’s big beasts to extinction.
Time to stop being ecological serial killers destroying 200 species a day.
And while I shall still drive, fly and eat meat I resolve, Greta, to recycle more in 2020.
Snow way to go campaigning
Friday’s Withdrawal Bill vote means we are now on course to leave the EU on 31st January.
Tories credit that ability for their election success, while Labour MPs moan how Brexit cost them votes.
But what they all agree on is that they never, ever want to campaign in the depths of winter again.
To hear them talk last week you’d think they’d just returned from an expedition to the North Pole.
So they’re jumping for joy at the repeal of the Fixed Term Parliament Act which sets election dates every five years.
It means the poor lambs won’t have to wade through snow, ice and drizzle in December, 2024.
The FTPA was only introduced by David Cameron in 2011 to reassure Lib Dem coalition partners he wouldn’t stab them in the back by suddenly scuttling to the polls.
Another chunk of Dave’s legacy Boris Johnson is delighted to strip away.
Whipping up a Christmas storm
Tory whip Stuart Andrew told me: “I got through six weeks of the election without a cross word with my partner.
"Then we fell out putting up the Christmas tree.”
Revealed! Boris's crib sheet
The shepherd boy in the St Mildred’s Church, Tenterden, Kent crib scene drew crowds because of his uncanny resemblance to Boris Johnson.
Rev Canon Lindsay Hammond reassured his flock: “The shepherd boy is safely in the care of a grown-up shepherd.”
Pity we can’t say the same of our PM.
Spoiled ballot backfires
MPs returned to the Commons with entertaining Tales of Spoiled Ballot Papers which they’re allowed to check at counts.
Tory Alec Shelbrooke had one defaced with: “Jeffrey Epstein did not commit suicide.”
But best was the one spotted by Romsey’s Caroline Nokes on which was written: “Not voting for this evil, stupid woman!!”
But those !!s were in the box where the X goes. So counted as a vote for Caroline.