A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Don't be silly Mr Cruddas

Jon Cruddas has got himself some headlines by calling for all the other Deputy Leadership contenders to resign from government but also made himself look daft.

The resignation of half a dozen senior ministers would totally destabilise the Government. It would suggest to the electorate that we think an internal party debate about an internal party election is more important than getting on with running government departments.

His blanket accusation that the people he is standing against have all spent "10 years of doing the nodding-dog routine" is insulting - he's worked in government, he understands how collective responsibility works and that you have the arguments behind closed doors.

The BBC mentions that Cruddas "is thought to have strong support among trade unionists". I think the truth may emerge that yes he does have strong support among a small layer of senior union full-timers, but when the actual union members get to vote, I doubt many of them will have a clue who he is - today's headline-grabbing throw-away comment is part of his strategy for addressing that - but publicity for its own sake can expose lack of thought-through content.


Anonymous dan said...

I think the truth may emerge that yes he does have strong support among a small layer of senior union full-timers

Except for UNISON, who quite scandalously are going to back Alan Johnson.

Victory to the two Jo(h)ns!

7:58 am, February 01, 2007

Anonymous Thomas said...

Luke - it was a bit of a headline grabber, but (a) this hardly sets him apart from all other leading figures in the party and (b)it is unfair to say that Cruddas is not thought through. If you read the whole interview, rather than just the BBC piece, you will see that Cruddas ranges across a variety of policy issues (tuition fees, council homes etc) and talks about intellectual underpinning (social solidarity versus meritocracy) for his views. Admittedly, that latter stuff was a bit above my head, boring even - but the guy has obviously done a lot of thinking, and is thought through. Whether you agree is a totally different matter!

10:25 am, February 01, 2007

Anonymous Stuart said...

You can't have it both ways though Luke. Yes, on the one hand Cruddas doesn't have as high a profile amongst rank and file trade unionists as the Cabinet Ministers do and on the other attack him for raising his profile in the media.

It will wear thin pretty soon the line that all these Cabinet Ministers were opposed to all the privatisations we have seen over the last decade but only didn't speak out because of collective responsibility.

When Cruddas said that 'New Labour has delivered nothing for the people of Dagenham' I believe that resonated throughout the Party and the agenda he is setting can potentially galvanise us again and help us to a fourth general election victory.

10:32 am, February 01, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

He's entitled to seek publicity - good luck to him - BUT calling for all his opponents to resign as ministers is crass.

What privatisations? QinetiQ is the only "privatisation" since 1997.

Did Jon ever say "New Labour has delivered nothing for the people of Dagenham"? If he did he doesn't deserve to be a Labour MP let alone Deputy Leader. What about extra cash for schools, hospitals, police, transport, low interest rates, low inflation, low unemployment, minimum wage, extra union rights ... Dagenham is not some other planet it has had all the same benefits every other constituency has had.

The only people such a patently untrue statement would resonate with are people who don't let objective reality interfere with their outdated political dogmas.

10:47 am, February 01, 2007

Anonymous james said...

I don't see anything in what Cruddas' actually said to justify the Beeb's hyperbolic reporting of it to be honest.

What he was criticising was the stream of leaked memos and off the record briefings we've seen from certain Cabinet ministers (I'm thinking of one in particular myself!) about how they're standing up to Blair and are secretly fanatically left wing.

He said if they want the freedom to speak out in that way, they should quit. It seems a fair point to me. He certainly didn't say (anywhere that I saw at least) that all the candidates should resign if they wanted to stand.

10:52 am, February 01, 2007

Anonymous stephen said...

I heard Cruddas on Radio Five yesterday lunchtime. Apart from the fact that he sounds like a used car salesman, his biggest problem is that he can't commit to anything.

He'd be useless in Government.

I don't think he understands the idea of Ministerial "collective responsibility", spouting off on every issue under the sun, trying to be all things to all people without any consistency of thought whatsoever.

One other point, his entire campaign team appear to be made up of anti-European, anti-war, anti-NewLabour types, who seem to have conveniently forgotten Mr Cruddas's record from say 1997-2003, during which he not only worked for the Prime Minister but also voted for the war ... it would be hilarious if it weren't so shocking!

11:34 am, February 01, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Except for UNISON, who quite scandalously are going to back Alan Johnson.'

Someone needs to point out Johnson's actual political views to Dave Prentis some time, for example on the union link!


12:28 pm, February 01, 2007

Anonymous Miranda said...

Dear Stephen, a lot of Labour's core voters (certainly my East London residents) sound like used car sales men - it's called an East London accent. People may wish to criticise Jon for many things but I fail to see what his accent has to do with this. In the ward where I'm a councillor people would not appreciate us attacking the way they speak. As a Labour councillor do not appreciate Labour colleagues attacking the way my residents speak. Something to think about please. PS: I'm a huge Cruddas fan and even more of a fan of the EU, which has benefitted this nation greatly. Jon Cruddas' camapign is made up of a coalition of views from all spectrums of our party. It is unhelpful for both left and right to keep on attempting to put Jon in a left-right box. He clearly shares views that represent both.

12:50 pm, February 01, 2007

Anonymous stephen said...

Well, people criticise Blair and Cameron (and Prince Charles) for sounding posh, but I suppose that's ok in your world?

"Jon Cruddas' camapign is made up of a coalition of views from all spectrums of our party." - kind of hits the nail on the head, doesn't it? If he claims to stand for everything he risks standing for nothing! Though I agree it's not helpful to put people into left-right boxes sooner or later, just like David Cameron, he's gonna have to commit one way or the other.

1:07 pm, February 01, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

For the record, I like his accent, having Estuarian vowels myself.

1:25 pm, February 01, 2007

Blogger HenryG said...

One thing I've observed at a local level is that increasingly political disagreements in the party aren't around classic left-right ideological issues but rather around community engagement and campaigning and activism. Issue I come across are those that believe in door-knocking over telephone canvassing, those that feel we should get involved in broader community campaigning, whether we should still stick with 'the 5 questions' in canvassing and discussions on how do we beat the Lib Dems and the BNP.

I'm not saying that there aren't big policy debates still to be had, just that they increasingly seem to be around a broad range of issues to do the with the party and the communities we serve.

In that context, I think it's understandible that in 2007 Cruddas' arguments around party renewal should attract interest across the spectrum. The only potential candidate who I think can cover similar ground well is Hazel Blears.

So Stephen I'd argue that the issues he's raising actually mirror the faultlines of discussion among active members much more than whether people slot into little boxes like Labour First, Compass, Feminists for McDonnell or any other such grouping.

One thing I totally agree with Jon Cruddas on is his higher education top-up fees. Tbis is a seriously regressive vote loser that won't be forgotten for a long, long time by working class and middle class parents and students.

1:25 pm, February 01, 2007

Blogger HenryG said...

Sorry that should say opposition to top up fees. Typing quicker than my brain allows.

1:27 pm, February 01, 2007

Anonymous factcheck said...

Did Jon ever say "New Labour has delivered nothing for the people of Dagenham"?

No. That was just another BBC Online story where the headline did not actually seem to reflect the actual quotes in the story.

Is it me or do the BBC (online especially) increasingly seem to indulge in these kind of tabloid reporting antics? Today's coverage of Cruddas' interview is another example.

2:16 pm, February 01, 2007

Anonymous Miranda said...

Too crude, Stephen. I said Jon represents views of a spectrum of the party not that he "stood for nothing". Like Jon Cruddas, I consider myself to have views that span the spectrum - proud to be "old" Labour on social housing, trade unionism, the fight against inequality etc but proud to be "New" Labour on Electoral reform and the European Union in particular. I may not agree with Jon Cruddas in some areas but politics is about compromise. I'll take Jon Cruddas' 80% of what I believe in above the other candidates 20% any day.

2:36 pm, February 01, 2007

Blogger el tom said...

Here's to that.

This has been something like 3 consecutive misquotings of cruddas so far (my favourite was the 'help poor white people' in the Evening Standard.

He needs to sort out how he allows himself to be quoted; think and speak, think and speak.

3:22 pm, February 01, 2007

Anonymous Graham said...

I thought that the point he made is that the leadership candidates in the cabinet are abusing their positions by publicly saying they won't campaign so they don't have to engage with harman or cruddas, but then campaigning in other forums anyway.

4:48 pm, February 01, 2007

Blogger Chris Paul said...

Tend to agree with most of this. Blog traffic at JC central is thin. JC is actually auditioning for a different job than the one which is to be advertised soon. Like a corporation is advertising for a Deputy CEO and an applicant wants to be in charge of Marketing and Customer retention instead of what's in the person spec.

JC is developing column inches in many places with all this. Don't underestimate. I only wish there was a real centre left candidate. Ditto on leadership, alongside John McD for the left left and someone hopefully for the right right ...

Not quite sure why working class parents and kids should be that worried about the Top Up Fees thing as this reintroduced grants and remission and universities are competing for bursary schemes for the poorest as well as on other fronts.

The more well to do middle class are the ones that lose out the most I suppose. But at least there's no fees in advance ...

The mid to long term economic effects of TUFs have not IMO been worked through properly ... mostly not good if my 'modelling' is right.

11:36 pm, February 01, 2007

Blogger Adele said...

Chris, you talking about top up fees is likely to cause a fight between you and me.

How many times. The excessive amount of debt that students know they will get into will put working class kids off going to University. No amount of bursaries e.t.c, will solve that little problem.

Also the lifting of the cap, will lead to rich kids going to rich universities and poorer kids going to poorer universities. A regressive policy if ever there was one.

11:57 am, February 02, 2007

Anonymous soft lefty said...

Chris - the Deputy Leadership doesn't have a "job description" attached so I'm a bit bemused as to why you think Cruddas is going for the "wrong" job?

The whole point is that different candidates can define the role in a different way and that we get a chance to vote in it.

If you want to vote for someone to be Deputy PM, vote for one of the candidates who wants to be DPM!

Also, I think it's fair to say that unless you have an extremely esoteric definition of the centre left, Cruddas will the centre left candidate. Agree with you that it's a shame we have no centre-left leadership contender, but we are where we are...

5:50 pm, February 02, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

adele, are u sayin that working class students are stupid and so don't realise the benefits they have over middle class students going to uni? if so, maybe they shouldnt be at uni or perhaps schools, colleges and universities need to do a better job at putting the truth across

1:33 pm, February 03, 2007

Anonymous Duncan said...

Cue me, I guess, anonymous! I spend a good deal of my time, as a college lecturer, doing exactly what you suggest: trying to convince working-class teenagers that they can cope with the debt and there benefits out-weigh the cost (which I still more-or-less believe, even though I think fees, and particularly top-up fees is a disastrous policy). It is nothing to do with being stupid, it's about different realities. For middle-class/wealthy kids, debt is a happy fact of life: it gets you stuff (house, car, holiday, etc.) and it gets paid back without much heartache. Fine. For a lot of kids, debt is a miserable fact of life, it's something that causes constant strain and pressure, and often in the context of much, much lower amounts than we're talking about re: top-up fees. And there is still an issue about graduate job expectations. If you expect a very high salary, then the prospect of surrendering wages for 3 or 4 years (probably with a great deal of help from home) and then paying the money back reasonably quickly from your hulking great salary isn't much to worry about. But having 3 or 4 years where university work is seriously going to get in the way of all the paid work you'll have to do, and then once you start earning what is hardly an enormous salary, you have to start paying the money back, the appeal of getting a job now is pretty obvious to anyone I should think.

It isn't stupid at all, it's actually quite smart. If fees had been around when I was a student, I'd have only just started paying them back this year, despite graduating from my undergraduate degree 11 years ago. And now, on a middle income, doing a responsible and stressful job that requires degree-level qualifications and above, I'd effectively be being taxed at a higher rate than someone earning considerably more than me because I trained to do a socially useful job. Materially I'd have been much more sensible working my way up through a company at 18.

The theory is dependent on the notion that everyone goes to university to get a higher-paid job. But the theory is nonsense, especially as more and more jobs demand level 4 + qualifications: people don't just go to university to earn more than those that don't, they go to enable themselves to contribute to society in the most appropriate way they can.

4:36 pm, February 03, 2007

Anonymous John Cruddas's elocution consultant said...

Miranda - An East London Accent? He's from Portsmouth!

9:57 am, February 05, 2007


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