I'm confused by a letter in the Guardian today http://politics.guardian.co.uk/labour/story/0,,1814691,00.html from various Labour worthies, including a batch of TU general secretaries whom I'm sure practice what they preach about "accountable leadership" and consulted widely before putting pen to paper ;)
"Tony Blair's recent article was published under the heading "No more coded critiques - let's have an open debate on where we go next" (June 27). We welcome that and agree there should now be an open public debate on the future direction of our party and government. In particular, we believe there is now an urgent need to focus on the following issues: ending poverty and rising inequality; a government and party leadership which is accountable; an end to privatisation of public services; foreign policy; and employment rights and trade union law.
Following the initiative taken by the prime minister, we intend over the next few months to organise a public debate around these issues in order to point the way towards the change of direction in government policy that so many in the Labour movement now want to see.Frank Dobson MP, Angela Eagle MP, Billy Hayes (CWU), Paul Kenny (GMB), Michael Meacher MP, Dave Prentis (Unison), Tony Robinson (ex-NEC), Clare Short MP, Derek Simpson (Amicus), John Trickett MP, Tony Woodley (TGWU)."
Strangely for an attack on "coded critiques" it largely reads as ... a coded critique.
For instance the rather bland phrase "foreign policy" when what I assume is meant is "there is an urgent need to focus on ... Iraq ... and ... er ... Iraq".
Most of the other issues are, oddly, rather than those that there is a debate about within Labour - such as public service reform - the ones everyone from Blair to Diane Abbott agrees on and where the government actually has a pretty good record of delivery but knows it needs to do more - ending poverty and employment rights and union law (the latter of which a common position on was negotiated at Warwick only a couple of years ago). But maybe these are "coded critiques" that I'm too dim to understand.
As for "an end to privatisation of public services" can anyone name a "privatisation" under this Government. Yes, there's been a grand total of one: of defence laboratory QinetiQ which I'm not sure is what these guys would define as a public service - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_privatizations#United_Kingdom
Still, who cares about semantics when you can have a "coded critique" of the government and smear corporate donations to schools, contracting-out, ALMOs or anything else as "privatisation" as it's a nice buzzy word that makes people angry.
The authors of this dazzling work, will be organising a "public debate". Does this mean a debate through the democratic processes of the Labour Party? Or more letters to the papers? Or another turgid conference a la Compass with an overlapping cast of the usual suspects? Again who can tell as it's all a "coded critique".
They want "to point the way towards the change of direction in government policy that so many in the Labour movement now want to see" - oh go on spit it out, you mean you want to precipitate Blair's departure because he's either sacked you or not kowtowed to you don't you?
It all reads like what it is - a letter written by committee - with amendments moved here and there - hence the general secretaries get "union law", Baldrick gets a more accountable leadership, and Clare gets "foreign policy" (a coded critique for "I used to just hate Tony now I hate Gordon too").
The PM must be trembling in his boots as he contemplates how to respond to this devastating, and not at all "coded" critique.