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.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Clarke to run?

After he was telling people to stop plotting leadership campaigns only a few days ago, the Sunday Times reports that Charles Clarke is going to run for Leader himself.

This could of course, all be an April Fool, but I fear not.

I simply do not understand what Clarke expects to achieve.

If as stated, his objective is to provoke a debate, it implies he has serious policy differences with Brown. We know he is anti-Trident replacement, but other than that I can only assume that the policy differences are regarding domestic issues where he is in some way further to the right than Brown. Is there really a constituency of party members, trade unionists and MPs that think that Brown is too leftwing and wants a harder line on say reform of public services than Brown will provide (and is simultaneously prepared to overlook whip-breaking outbreaks of unilateralism)? If there is I haven't met them. All that Clarke provoking a debate will do is measure how little support there is for an "ultra" position.

If it's about Brown's personal qualities then Clarke is hardly the alternative, youthful, fresh face to take on Cameron - and unlike Clarke's tenure at the Home Office, Brown has actually run the Treasury well.

I find the whole scrambling around for an anti-Brown candidate - I wouldn't dignify it with the term "Blairite" because most level-headed Blairites are backing Brown - laughable, and worse than that embarrassing - for the Party as a whole and my end of it in particular.

The worst thing is that because some of the people involved are close to Blair (presumably not Clarke since Blair sacked him) this risks tarnishing Blair's legacy - the self-proclaimed bearers of the flame will risk not getting nominated or doing so but getting a derisory vote and thereby sending out a signal that a) Blair himself was unpopular and b) the new premiership is a complete break with everything achieved over the last ten years.

The "anyone-but-Brown" campaign is the politics of the strategically stupid. Actually it isn't even political - it's about personalities. And politicians who can't rise above their personality differences are doomed to look divisive and petty.

5 Comments:

Blogger parburypolitica said...

To be frank there are problems with Gordon but the prospect of clunking big ears running is such a horrendous one that I might just have to become GB biggest supporter.

Charles Clarke leader of the Labour Party 1st April your having a laugh.

7:35 pm, April 01, 2007

 
Anonymous David said...

Luke

I don't disagree with your analysis that Clarke would be unlikely to attract support and that failing to run a large department is hardly a topline qualification to be the choice to run all the deparmtents. However, are there not several sound reasons why he should stand:

1) One of the festering sores between 10/11 Downing Street has been the feeling that the 1994 electorate were not given the choice between Brown and Blair. A choice that I'm pretty certain would have been hugely in Blair's favour. If Clarke runs and the 'ultras', a terrible term, lose, then they've clearly lost the centrist vote in the party and can justifiably be told to shut up having put up

2) Despite his sacking, Clarke undoubtedly has more of a credible CV than either McDonnell or Meacher. For Brown to beat Clarke may, in the eyes of the wider electorate, increase Brown's mandate and credibility

3) Should Clarke attract a decent number of supporters, I agree it would be unwise for Ministers to nominate him, it would perhaps help act as a bulwark to Brown in thinking how he should develop the Government to encompass other strands of thinking in the PLP. There must be a number of Ministers / backbenchers who think that their prospects must be next to zero under a Brown Government

4) If Clarke were to act as a flakcatcher for dissent / desire for a contest, he may reduce the chances of a left wing nomination. A contest between two figures broadly supportive of the Blair Government would have to be better than having a trenchant critic trying to prove that New Labour didn't work and should be disposed of. I don't think this weakens the crushing the left argument - if they can't get the nominees then, well their support can't be that strong

6:26 pm, April 02, 2007

 
Anonymous McDonnell supporter said...

"A contest between two figures broadly supportive of the Blair Government would have to be better than having a trenchant critic trying to prove that New Labour didn't work and should be disposed of" In a word, no.

7:51 pm, April 02, 2007

 
Anonymous ronald mcdonnell said...

Right on brother! Vote McDumbo! How I long for opposition ...

John McDonnell
A Nutter's World is possible

8:35 pm, April 02, 2007

 
Anonymous David Floyd said...

"If Clarke were to act as a flakcatcher for dissent / desire for a contest, he may reduce the chances of a left wing nomination. A contest between two figures broadly supportive of the Blair Government would have to be better than having a trenchant critic trying to prove that New Labour didn't work and should be disposed of."

Well, I think Clarke running would make it harder for McDonnell to get on the ballot, in that he might scoop up some 'anyone but Brown' nominations.

5:02 pm, April 05, 2007

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

 
Free Hit Counters
OfficeDepot Discount