I thought I ought to reply to the Daily's blairite-scorched-earth-strategy story, so I've posted this on their site:
"I’m not aware of having said “Brown is bad”, only that Blair is good. There is still a strong possibility that I will actively campaign for Brown if he is up against only Meacher and/or McDonnell; or D Miliband who I disagree with on double devolution; or Milburn who I disagree with on public services issues; or Clarke who has publicly expressed doubts on Trident replacement and new nuclear power stations.
If either Reid or Johnson run I will have a difficult choice to make. I think Brown, Reid or Johnson would all be excellent leaders and are all coming from broadly the same place ideologically (and are all more tribally Labour than Blair, which I like) but we don’t have enough data yet on which would play best with the electorate (we need something like the Frank Luntz people-metering on Newsnight that showed Cameron’s popularity during the Tory leadership). We also won’t find out exactly what their policy platform is until the campaign starts and collective responsibility is parked - I’ll want to weigh up where they stand on Trident, nuclear power and an interventionist foreign policy (which I support) and public service reform (which I’m sceptical about but which is less of a deal-breaker).
I think the Daily rather over-estimates the influence of my blog and Stuart’s - if No10 was waging a scorched earth policy they would do it on TV and in the press, not through a website that only gets a few hundred hits a day.
The “Brown is popular in Wales and Scotland” argument is spurious and undermined by the Dunfermline by-election result earlier this year. Reid is probably popular in Scotland too. If Wales is so important why not have Hain as leader and be done with it? My hero Kinnock was massively popular in Wales and Scotland - fat lot of good that it did us in 1992. These are devolved elections about the performance of devolved governments. What counts in picking a leader in a country with FPTP is popularity amongst swing voters in the marginal seats that decide General Elections. No offence to the Celts (I am one by ancestory) but there are as many Westminster marginal seats in the 3 counties of Kent, Sussex and Essex as in the whole of Scotland and Wales. I’ll be looking for a Leader that resonates with Dartford, Basildon and Harlow as well as with the areas that always return Labour MPs. "