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.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Choices

I'm a rarity in the Labour Party in being happy to put on the record that I have a lot of time for Peter Mandelson, who I think made a huge contribution to making Labour electable, and was a highly effective minister.

But, absent in Brussels, he has really misjudged the appetite in the Party for a Blairite vs. Brown fight for Leader.

He has said it was "obvious" that the Party needed a contest, and, according to the Guardian "that the new generation of younger Labour MPs needed to decide for themselves who they wanted as leader".

But the list of Brown's campaign team assembled around campaign manager Jack Straw includes several of those younger Labour MPs he is talking about:

According to the Guardian Straw's team includes "Andy Burnham, the Blairite health minister, Liam Byrne, the Home Office minister, Geoff Hoon, the Europe minister, Phil Woolas, the local government minister, and Kitty Ussher, a highly regarded Blairite backbencher."

Who exactly is going to be leading the charge for a Miliband candidature if bright young Blairites like Burnham, Byrne and Ussher are the kind of people actually running Gordon Brown's campaign?

I really do not see a contest happening (unless McDonnell somehow gets nominated). I can understand that Peter wants one but the next generation doesn't want to perpetuate the divisions of the last decade.

11 Comments:

Blogger grimupnorth said...

Peter Mandelson is right (did I really say that)
Many now seem to forget that the Labour Party was (until Blair) always a broad church. Now people like yourself seem to want a Stalinist top-down Party with no room for dissent. Jack Straw's comment about why we don't need ane election (everyone supports Gordon so why bother) is a classic. The younger generation of Mps you mention represent the least appealing of the Blairite wing.There is another "younger generation." Thankfully. Katy Clark is a fine MP on the left of the Party. A colleague of mine hopes to win a constituency for the next general Election. There would be more had not the Blairites taken control of the Party machine and parachuted nodding dogs all over the safest constituencies. Now we're fighting back.
We all know why Mandelson wants an election but in essence he is right. The public will be hugely turned off by a "coronation." So will the thousands of Party members who DON'T want brown as Leader. Why can't you get it into your heads that it is profoundly undemocratic not to have an election.If young Miliband wants to have a go,why the hell shouldn't he without fear of Gordon's clunking fist.
Like many, I have been campiaginng for months now for John McDonnell. I think Luke even you would agree he deserves much credit for raising key issues and bringing back some hope to people utterly disillusioned with New Labour ( even though you obviously don't agree with our policies).To deny us a say in a leadership contest is plain wrong.It will also be hugely damaging for the Party. Dear Leader Brown should face a contest like every other Labour leader has had to.

8:04 am, March 26, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Susan

I definitely do want a contested election - but one contested between Brown as the candidate of a united centre and right of the party versus McDonnell. We need a ballot to show which broad direction the party wants to go in.

However, a fight between Brown and, say, Miliband, would be as stupid for my wing of the party as the current fight between Meacher and McDonnell is for your's.

I don't want a party with no dissent - I just want one where after having the debate my side - because it is the natural majority - wins.

As a parliamentary hopeful I only wish that the centralised machine that parachutes in moderate candidates existed. Unfortunately it doesn't - the last time it did was in the 1950s when Regional Officers knew part of their job was to get PPCs selected who supported the leadership. Bring back Morgan Phillips!

9:13 am, March 26, 2007

 
Anonymous Peter Kenyon said...

Dear Luke

Good to hear you don't want a party with no dissent, but suggesting that you personally are in the natural majority is itself debatable.

Let's take Iraq for example, I seem to recall you were the only delegate on the Hackney North GC who voted in favour of the the Second Iraq War - proof positive of being in the natural majority?

As for you being an aspiring PPC, I much much admire your sense of humour about the case for Morgan Phillips and being parachuted in.

However, your apparent lack of confidence in the capabilities of current Labour Party speaks volumes.

Comrades, Sisters and Brothers - the message is clear - Luke Akehurst doesn't think you are capable of deciding for yourselves who best to represent Labour values and those of the local communities you aspire to represent.

11:06 am, March 26, 2007

 
Anonymous Ted Harvey said...

"I don't want a party with no dissent - I just want one where after having the debate my side - because it is the natural majority - wins."

But what if, as with Iraq, this so-called 'natural majority' is terribly wrong?

12:09 pm, March 26, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Peter

I'm not silly enough to think I was in the majority in the Party on Iraq - I wasn't - though the anti-war majority was swollen at the time by people that thought a sudden conversion to peacenikery would help their careers. But I do think I'm in the majority on the broad direction of the party.

It's really a bit pathetic to use what you acknowledge to be a joke I've made about the 1950s to accuse me of thinking that members are not "capable of deciding for yourselves who best to represent Labour values and those of the local communities you aspire to represent". You know that's not true.

Lighten up. Maybe if you tried to be a bit less humourless you would get more nominations for the NCC?

12:23 pm, March 26, 2007

 
Blogger grimupnorth said...

Luke , I'm glad you see the need for a contest between left and right. Perhaps you can lobby some of your colleagues to nominate John McDonnell. But what on earth would you do if we actually, er, won? Just a thought.......

12:32 pm, March 26, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Suicide or emmigration would look attractive options (that should boost McDonnell's vote).

Note for Peter Kenyon:

The above constitutes a "joke" - defined as "Something said or done to evoke laughter or amusement" - not meant to be taken seriously or quoted out of context.

12:37 pm, March 26, 2007

 
Anonymous Peter Kenyon said...

Deary me, Luke or should that be dreary me

..it was a joke, dear boy, and if you don't mind me saying so..sharp and to the point.

As for Hackney North GC and my vote.. good try.. jest accepted.

Note to Luke Akehurst:

Joke - act in a funny or teasing way

Yours off to Knotty Ash

1:54 pm, March 26, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Sorry - at least everyone reading this can now work out where the jokes where.

Joking aside, the reason you didn't get the North nomination was the comrade Graham used his speech nominating you to attack Maggie and it didn't go down well.

2:34 pm, March 26, 2007

 
Anonymous Peter Kenyon said...

Dear Luke

Or even 'where' the jokes 'were'?

Thanks for the tip off about that speech...many a good cause has been lost in debate on that account.

9:22 pm, March 26, 2007

 
Anonymous Gregg said...

the anti-war majority was swollen at the time by people that thought a sudden conversion to peacenikery would help their careers

You mean, presumably, Dennis Healey and Roy Hattersley. Wait, no, that can't be right...

12:30 pm, March 27, 2007

 

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