A day to be proud to be Labour
I'm not managing to come up with anything to say about Blair's announcement that doesn't sound trite or cheesy - so apologies.
A colleague from the Irish Labour Party rang me this afternoon and reminded me of conversations we had had back in 1994 at the start of all this - when European colleagues were sceptical that Labour could ever win again and we ourselves didn't believe the polls - and when just stopping the Tories trashing the country looked like an impossible dream - let alone any of the things that have been achieved. I feel we are incredibly lucky that most of what we thought would take Labour a lifetime to achieve has been done - and then some - in ten years.
As predicted, the polls today are showing people waking up to how lucky they have been to have leadership of this quality.
His success in reshaping the Labour Party into a mainstream, election-winning force is illustrated by the farce today as McDonnell and Meacher scrabble to get 44 nominations between them. There isn't any going back to the 1980s.
More prosaically, I find it a bit undignified that Harman and Hain have chosen today to do big announcements that they've hit the 44 on their deputy leadership nomination totals - this was a day for reflection about the outgoing leadership - there will be time enough for announcements about the coming contest tomorrow.
The Campaign Group seems to be as split on Deputy Leader as they are on Leader - members Dave Anderson, Mike Clapham, Bill Etherington and Bob Marshall-Andrews (!) are all now backing Hain, whilst the CLPD has endorsed Cruddas. I'm guessing we will see Cruddas, Hain and Harman engage in a Dutch auction to try to position themselves as the "left" candidate - ultimately a daft strategy as that isn't where the membership is at now.
Hazel meanwhile is on 39 - with the new ones being Jim Dowd, Frank Roy, John Heppell, Meg Munn, Tony Cunningham, Steve McCabe, Bridget Prentice and Linda Waltho.