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, May 31, 2007

Brown: no “retreat to the soft options”

Good to see in the Times that Gordon Brown is concerned about the risks of having a left-sounding Deputy Leader.

The real gift to the Tories isn't - contrary to the guff some people have been putting in the comments here - party moderates like me attacking the left. In fact the historical evidence everywhere in the world is that when the moderate wing of a progressive party attacks the left wing, that progressive party increases its chances of getting elected - voters want evidence that the moderates are in charge and the left are marginalised.

The real gift to the Tories for the next General Election from this Deputy Leadership campaign would be if we end up with a Deputy Leader who has publicly differed from the Leader on key policies, and whose victory appears to have strengthened and heartened the left of the party.

To my mind there are 3 candidates of the 6 - Hain, Harman and Cruddas - who have pandered to the left and whose election would damage the electability of the Party. Those of us on the other wing of the party need to be extremely disciplined about the way we cast our votes to ensure that we don't end up in that scenario.

21 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The real gift to the Tories isn't - contrary to the guff some people have been putting in the comments here - party moderates like me attacking the left. In fact the historical evidence everywhere in the world is that when the moderate wing of a progressive party attacks the left wing, that progressive party increases its chances of getting elected"

I didn't realize that petty infighting was such a politcal virtue! or at least it must be only when the ideologically pure NuLab types are doing it.

This blog is serving a purpose in reminding me why it's a good thing that I don't have a Labour MP!

8:46 am, May 31, 2007

 
Blogger Owen said...

Neil Kinnock spent nearly all of his time attacking the left and his own party generally.

How many elections did he win?

9:42 am, May 31, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I'm sure your lot are just as bitchy and probably just as corrupt as well. Get real, anonymous, this is the real world. No space for bleeding heart namby pambies here.

9:42 am, May 31, 2007

 
Blogger grimupnorth said...

Gordon is heading for an electoral car crash..... he has no reverse gear.Look where that got Tony......chucked out two years early.

9:56 am, May 31, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your wing of the party is dead - accept it. They are all drifting off into the wilderness...sorry, into lucrative non-exec directorships where they will spend their retirements - yes, Byers, Milburn, Clarke, the lot of them, off they go. I suppose at least they made it and had a bit of fun; whereas you - desperation personified - have not, hence your hysterical musings on the deputy leadership. You have spent your political career sucking up to that lot (and working...sorry, lobbying, for various dubious outfits) and what have you got to show for it now? What a sad little man you are (yes, little, in every sense of the word!). I couldn't resist posting this comment - funny, how oyu always manage to bring out the worst in people.

10:00 am, May 31, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Anonymous - having fundamentally different policy positions on, for example, whether the UK should replace its strategic nuclear deterrent (one of the 6 candidates thinks we shouldn't, another thinks we should keep reviewing the policy) is hardly "petty infighting".

Owen - I was going to cite Kinnock as a good example of the electoral benefits of bashing the left - he increased Labour's vote in 2 elections through doing it.

Cameron is currently engaged in exactly the same process of very deliberately taking on the less moderate wing of his own party.

10:03 am, May 31, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Other anonymous - someome from my wing of the party just got elected Leader without anyone else being able to even get nominated. Doesn't sound very dead to me.

10:05 am, May 31, 2007

 
Blogger Benjamin said...

Ah yes. Party "moderates". Luke could never be "right wing" of course, just "moderate".

And its okay for Luke to attack other (slightly) lefty Labour figures on his blog - why, thats fighting for a Labour victory and popular - but when Cruddas puts his ideas forward to renew the party, it can only destroy the party.

Logically then, Luke's targets should submit meekly - that's good for the party - and the next targets for extermination should submit meekly too. This has to be a one way street, apparently. You really couldn't make this stuff up.

It eventually get's beyond parody as the party begins to eat itself: very moderate figures are attacked as if they are raving Trots - Hain, Harman, etc, when all they have done is squeaked a few mild criticisms, or statements of the bloody obvious. McDonnell, a socialist, is of course completely beyond the pale, and Roy Hattersley is now on the left of the party.

Funny old world, eh?

10:08 am, May 31, 2007

 
Anonymous Ian G said...

The idea that we should spend our time deliberately provoking conflict within our own party as an electoral strategy is too silly to contemplate.

What is more annoying is that Luke's definition of 'left' takes in almost everyone in the party but him and Tony Blair.

Jon Cruddas is hardly Militant Tendency and still less is Harriet Harman. If you say that the sort of views they are articulating aren't allowed at the highest level of our party, you are basically telling thousands of activists, members and affiliated trade unionists that they have no stake in the party, and are in effect are wasting their time.

10:24 am, May 31, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From my labour party media brief:

Pascoe-Watson says Labour’s deputy rivals are falling over themselves to appeal to the left, promising higher taxes, more unions powers & curbs on the private sector in public services. He says the ‘lurch’ has been ld by Cruddas, but Harman & Benn have followed suit, while Hain has lashed out at fatcats & Blears & Johnson have dabbled with ‘lefty politics’.

Not quite sharing your analysis Luke.

It's Tom by the way. I can't log into blogger this morning.

10:24 am, May 31, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Of course the views are allowed. I would just prefer that their holders didn't get elected to the number 2 job in the Party. If it turns out that they have more support than my views, fair enough, we'll have to live with the consequences. My hunch is that actually the Party rank-and-file are going to prove surprisingly sound, and that all this faux leftism will have been entirely counter-productive.

10:40 am, May 31, 2007

 
Anonymous keep it pragmatic said...

Owen's wrong, as it was clearly vital for Kinnock to take on the hard left in the 80s.

However, I think Luke wants to live in a permanent 80s dream world where he can engage in constant Trot bashing and struggles for the party's soul.

I can't think of anything more stupid right now for the Labour Party than to descend into petty infighting.

It's also just plan demented to suggested that the current policy course is the 'safe sensible' option when we our behind in the polls, our membership has plummeted, and we are the 3rd party of local government.

The lesson of the 80s and the early successes of New Labour is surely the need for pragmatism and renewal. But Luke insists on pretending that everything at the moment is ok and that the argument that we should admit that the unpopular war in Iraq was a mistake should not be appeased! It's that kind of dogma that will be the end of this government.

And the party rank-and-file (what's left of it. Are you not as distressed as I am that Labour's membership is nearly at its lowest in about 100 years?) may prove "sound" because we've all become accustomed to thinking that questioning the current strategy will be disastrous. Just like nationalisation, trade union supremacy, and unilateral disarmament contributed to our unpopularity before.

10:53 am, May 31, 2007

 
Blogger Bill said...

I don't think the leftism is very faux, they struck me as politicians let off the leash to express their own values, for a short while, before returning to dscipline - I think we owe them that much credit.

10:53 am, May 31, 2007

 
Blogger Chris Paul said...

Owen: It must be said that Kinnock's longform PPB of 1987 was excellent and dare I say it socialistic in a solidarity kind of way and also that Hatton was a complete and utter tosser. "Lies" he can be seen to heckle as Kinnock runs his taxi line. Labour in Liverpool is making a good fist now of recovering - but TWO DECADES later.

He should have won elections and it might be said that the early doors New Labourists pissed it away for him in the last couple of weeks with over confidence, smugness and razzle dazzle. And yes back in the day he was considered young, inexperienced, thin on top and welsh.

Luke: Notwithstanding the above. You're just not getting it are you? The "moderate" wing of the Labour Party has never been more overbalancing of the whole aircraft or more right wing.

You are pretty much saying that anyone that doesn't comply with your addled world view can take a running jump. And sadly NL have been saying that to the electorate as well as to the membership, such that we have less and less reliable core vote out there.

Meanwhile the Tories are trying to stop themselves look scarey by saying that are more Luke than Luke and such like. People could believe them.

Owen has reeled off - elsewhen and elsewhere - whole litanies of policy areas where the "left" have 50%+ of those polled agreeing with us (or them, because I am regarded as soft left by the left and hard left by "moderates"!)

The fact that Labour can win handsomely with 35% does not mean it could not win by even more with just a little bit more socialism mixed into the managerial and sell-out tendancies.

Universal quality not fake choice for example. Choice is getting us into a right old mess.

Putting Blair and Brown and the roundheads and organisers at the helm of a really social democratic movement with more principle and less kowtowing to capital and we really would have got somewhere sustainable and real, and not to Iraq.

Finally, cannot the three right wingers you identify get a bit of bottle to stop mirroring and start leading? On immigration for example.

I was pleased to hear Johnson saying he was minded to agree with earnt regularisation for asylum seekers, refugees and over stayers. This is bold and a leader's position. Hain, Blears and Benn are funked on this because they fear the ballot.

Because they fear the ballot. Not because of what is right or wrong. there is nothing so important as winning elections. But there is more than one way to skin a cat.

11:29 am, May 31, 2007

 
Blogger Benjamin said...

Pascoe-Watson is over egging it, as one would expect.

11:31 am, May 31, 2007

 
Blogger Owen said...

"Owen - I was going to cite Kinnock as a good example of the electoral benefits of bashing the left - he increased Labour's vote in 2 elections through doing it."

I don't think that hanging "dirty laundry in public" added to Labour's electoral success in the 80s.

The Tories won by such a landslide in 1983 because a significant section of the party had split away to form the SDP, dividing the traditional Labour coalition; because of Foot's completely ineffectual leadership; and because the Tories had been handed a war victory on a plate. The Tories' share of the vote (in terms of actual vote and as a proportion) had actually declined in 1983 as compared to 1979 - but a section of the Labour right helped to effectively give them the election.

If you look at polls here detailing voting intentions since 1979, you will see that Labour had a consistent lead in the polls all the way through the period of left ascendancy (including Tony Benn's deputy leadership campaign). For example, in March 1981, Labour had a 10% lead int he polls. The SDP split helped to narrow the lead, but it wasn't until the outbreak of the Falklands War in April 1982 that the Tories finally went ahead in the polls. In the 1987 general election, the Tories beat Labour by 43% to 32% - yet in February 1982, for example, when our party looked as though it was effectively disintegrated, Labour had a 3 point lead in the polls.

New Labour's history of the 1980s is just revisionist history. It wasn't the left that lost Labour the elections - it was the outright treachery of the right.

11:38 am, May 31, 2007

 
Blogger grimupnorth said...

"someome from my wing of the party just got elected Leader without anyone else being able to even get nominated."
Enjoy, Luke, as it's the last time that will EVER happen.
If Kinnock had not bashed the left and got on with attacking the Tories, stood fair and square behind the miners. stood up to Thatcher over rate-capping, then history might have been very different. Brown is walking into exactly the same trap.Despite the fact that none of the Mps he is attacking are even remotely hard left.It's brown who is stuck inthe 1980s, not us.

12:06 pm, May 31, 2007

 
Anonymous Peter Kenyon said...

Dear Luke

Don't flatter yourself "...someome from my wing of the party just got elected Leader without anyone else being able to even get nominated..." as you said in response to an Anonymous blogger.

Labels can convey contradictory messages as I suggest in my blog today. I don't recall your wing of the party being overly concerned about the need to restore collective decision-making. But would be delighted to hear I might have misrepresented you.

In that regard, open, informed debate might mean we end up dropping some of the policies that were conjured up by unelected advisors and a leader exploiting monarchical powers.

Let the debate continue.

12:16 pm, May 31, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And its okay for Luke to attack other (slightly) lefty Labour figures on his blog - why, thats fighting for a Labour victory and popular - but when Cruddas puts his ideas forward to renew the party, it can only destroy the party."

That's the impression I got from this post too. A bit too much of the whole "do as I say, not as I do" for my liking.

12:46 pm, May 31, 2007

 
Blogger E10 Rifle said...

Luke's still living in 1985, or 1997, like an old PoW lost in the jungle still fighting enemies who've long since moved on. It's all about purging lefties in his world.
Still, that's your election-winning strategy for next time is it? Attack the internal left of your own party. I always thought we were standing against the Tories meself.

1:12 pm, May 31, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh...so you are a Brownite now! ...well, that is a suprise - another careerist for Brown - I think they are calling you "Brownies". You truly are d e s p e r a t e.

11:18 am, June 01, 2007

 

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