Run, Hazel, run
The Deputy Leadership campaign seems to be shaping up to show Labour in a good light - pluralistic, unpredictable in the sense of not being a forgone conclusion, and with an interesting range of candidates.
I was really pleased when today's Observer said that Hazel Blears "is now expected to enter the deputy race ... Blears is said to be confident she can get the 44 nominations required."
I'm very enthused by the idea of Blears being part of the leadership team - and not just because she is, like me, ginger and not very tall.
- Assuming Brown is to be leader, this balances the ticket with someone close to the Blair camp and binds any wounds.
- She's authentically Labour and can connect with our core vote and has proven this in Salford.
- We ought to have a woman in the leadership team to help us win back women voters and Hazel seems to me to be a more credible candidate that Harriet Harman.
- She is an effective campaigner and I think the Deputy needs to focus on a campaigning role.
- She's from the North West - a region packed full of the key marginals we need to win - and which hasn't supplied a Labour Leader or Deputy since Harold Wilson.
- She's particularly strong on the crime & ASB agenda - a key one both for Labour's core supporters and swing voters - and that would balance Brown's interests in the economy and social policy if he was leader. The work she did as Home Office Minister of State meeting ordinary voters on the ground to listen to and act on their concerns on ASB was really impressive.
- Her personality - she's down-to-earth and approachable in a way that is authentic and will help us take on the faux mateyness of "Dave" Cameron. She comes across as someone that lives in the real world voters live in and understands their lives.
- She cares about the Party grassroots and the union link in the same way Cruddas does but without his link-up with groups like Compass and Save the Labour Party.
I'm fairly sure that if I researched everything she's ever said I'd find she was some way to the left of me, but my bottom line in judging the Deputy Leadership candidates is, if I was a PPC or Agent again, which of them would I most want to do a key campaigner visit to my seat - which one would actually help the most to get members out campaigning and to persuade voters they met that they ought to turn out and vote Labour? I reckon of the names mentioned so far, Blears wins hands down, so I hope she does run.