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.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Newsnight hustings

My take on the Newsnight hustings:

Blears - the shortness is actually an advantage - makes her memorable compared to the others. Straight answers and no silly attempts to court the left. As she said in answer to who would she vote for if not standing: "Jon for his campaigning, Alan for his politics, Harriet to have a woman in the leadership team, but I'm standing so you can have a woman with a campaigning record and good politics".

Cruddas - wants everyone to live in council houses is the way it came across - when in fact the working classes mainly want to own homes. "I want loads more council houses" may make sense but is only one step away from "I want everyone to work down the pits" in terms of the message it sends. Good that he's into campaigning - shame many of his supporters are into meetings not canvassing - and if we are just going to elect a good campaigner as Deputy Leader then there are about 10 people on Hazel's campaign team better qualified. Can I be Deputy Leader, I'm good at leafleting?

Johnson - sensible answers, charming, but appeared diffident and laid back. Can't imagine him stirring people to canvass until their knuckles bleed with a rousing rant from the battle bus steps.

Hain - wants to be the "umbilical cord between the Cabinet and party". Which provoked the reaction "yuck, I don't want him as my umbilical cord" from the other half of my household. Postured left until asked about any actual policies.

Benn - very clever, really sound answer on Iraq/liberal interventionism, inspiring for party members but unlikely to appeal to the wider public - too cerebral.

Harman - awful. Just awful. Actually beyond awful. Cringeworthy efforts to appear leftwing - e.g. refusing to give a straight yes or no on Trident, delivered in the style of her former colleague Pat Hewitt.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Hazel has come across very well in face to face hustings but she has an appalling TV manner which explains the animosity towards her.

As for Cruddas - "wants everyone to live in council houses is the way it came across"; ""only one step away from "I want everyone to work down the pits" in terms of the message it sends. What a complete bunch of rubbish! You attempt to extrapolate such conclusions from what he said show just how threatened you are by him.

Oh and the "he's into campaigning - shame many of his supporters are into meetings not canvassing" - er... to who do you refer - the 100 grassroots activists on his site!? Each and every one of those is crap at canvassing are they? Who on earth do you think you are to pass such sweeping judgement!?

Why don't you be a man and admit it? - Cruddas did well. Very well.

12:11 am, May 30, 2007

Blogger E10 Rifle said...

As someone who did some anti-BNP leafleting organised out of Cruddas's office last year, I'd also take issue with Luke's characteristically caricatured portrayal of him. In the toughest of circumstances, Cruddas was getting people out canvassing and campaigning.

12:42 am, May 30, 2007

Blogger HenryG said...

I was pleasantly surprised by how good Cruddas and Harman were. I thought Hazel's height was a distraction. It's not her fault, but it was a little unlucky that she was stood next to Hilary Benn who must easily clear 6'. That said, I've heard some good reports about other hustings performances by Hazel and I liked the way she praised Cruddas for putting the role of deputy leader on the agenda. She should have learned her lines for the opening 90 second gambit.

I was a bit disappointed with Johnson if I'm honest. Didn't do it tonight for some reason. I thought Benn was eloquent but a little boring. Harman came across well, though fluffed her lines on a few occasions. I can see why people like her and dislike her in equal measure.

I thought Hain was terrible tonight and made some quite nasty remarks. His claim to have delivered peace in Northern Ireland and him dining out on the anti-apartheid campaign (which happened 30 years ago when he wasn't even a member of this party) is pompous, tedious and does a huge disservice to the thousands others that have played their role in both struggles. Dreadful man.

The online Newsnight poll on who won the debate has Cruddas in the lead and Hain last. Bliss.

2:04 am, May 30, 2007

Blogger Benjamin said...

Don't you worry about those horrible lefties, Luke.

You will be pleased to note that Private Eye, in the latest edition, cuts away all this nonsense and simply lists the main funding sources of the Deputy Leadership campaigns: Lord Sainsbury, various millionaire property developers, bankers, a hedge fund. Hain is employing a lobbyist who normally works for the likes of Coca-Cola and Bechtel.

All this stuff about the working class, the grassroots, the left is clearly all for show ;-)

5:33 am, May 30, 2007

Blogger Benjamin said...

Luke's not threatened by Hain. He extrapolates and infers all sorts of silly meanings from Hain's pretty mild and empty rhetoric because dear old Luke is, as ever, on the constant look out for anything, however mild, that may hint at any sort of leftism, which would mean, automatically, a return to the eighties. That's Luke general approach.

Well, fair enough. But Hain is no threat to New Labour. He is New Labour.

This is a beauty contest, a show. It's about "performance" in front of the cameras (interesting to see how many times the word "performance" comes up.) Nothing else.

5:42 am, May 30, 2007

Blogger grimupnorth said...

What a Muppet Show! Deeply depressing for anyone on the left. Harman may be sucking up to us but at least she came across as sincere over WMD and Iraq.....Benn nice but boring. Blears just, well, unspeakable and politically challenged as well as vertically.
Johnson was dreadful and Hain very disappointing. Jon "I live in Notting Hill but pretend to live in Dagenham" Cruddas is FOR nuclear power stations but against Trident. Shifting to the right already....and he wasn't very good.
It is Hobson's Choice - but might have to be Harriet.One thing .is clear - Hazel's toast.....

8:05 am, May 30, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The online Newsnight poll on who won the debate has Cruddas in the lead and Hain last."

Oh come off it - that's just because the Cruddas team have the internet sown up. Cruddas supporters are hacks who tend to have their own blogs. For example, that last YouGov poll had Cruddas at second to last with 10% - while most Labour-orientated blogs were backing him.

Means nothing other than the fact you have lots of web-savvy hacks on board!

8:40 am, May 30, 2007

Anonymous votelabourwithpride said...

I thought Hilary was calm, clever and articulate. He also refused to rise to the bait of playing infantile point scoring games with Hain, Harman and Cruddass.

Cruddass was simplistic, and unless I am very much mistaken effectively gave up the contest at the end when opining that he was sure he would not have the opportunity to be Deputy Prime Minister or a Cabinet member. Of course the winner of this contest needs to be in the Cabinet. Was Cruddass recognising that a constituency of mild leftists from London will not get him elected. And, if he talks about fighting the BNP one more time without someone pointing out that perhaps he should start in his own backyard I will scream.

But a special place in Labour purgatory is saved for Harriet Harman. I once did some work for Harriet in the mid 90s when were in opposition and she was New Labour to the core. Last night she was appalling.

I would not have voted for the war; I am appalled at the way the government announces policy; I may not vote for Trident; and John Cruddass voters please put me second because I am a real Labour leftie. She was an outrage, turning her back on the last fifteen years of her political career; being disloyal to the Government and the party that she has been integral to as a leading new Labour light in the scrabble for Cruddass' second preferences.

She was awful and should be thoroughly ashamed of herself.

And yes Luke. Hazel was good. I will be putting her second and Alan third. Harman will now not even get a fourth preference.

8:52 am, May 30, 2007

Anonymous David Brain said...

I thought it was a good event for those of us who have not seen a husting . . must be a role for something like this in a general election now surely. However, the glib and self serving claim to want to soak the 'super-rich' will have had the public watching (as opposed to elements of the party) thinking they were in a time warp. I thought Johnson's answer on this was bang on.

9:18 am, May 30, 2007

Anonymous Happy down south said...

"Jon "I live in Notting Hill but pretend to live in Dagenham" Cruddas is FOR nuclear power stations but against Trident."

Grim, your naive views would be endearing if they weren't so crazy. You can't understand that someone can be for nuclear power as a source of energy but against nuclear weapons? Oh it must be nice to live in your black and white world. Also good to see you using Tory press smears against a Labour comrade.

9:51 am, May 30, 2007

Anonymous Johnson wants Dorneywood so bad! said...

"However, the glib and self serving claim to want to soak the 'super-rich' will have had the public watching (as opposed to elements of the party) thinking they were in a time warp. I thought Johnson's answer on this was bang on. "

Yes, I also like the idea that candidates aren't allowed to suggest new policies that might help the government create a more equal society. The New Labour Book of Acceptable Views tells me that this will just put us back in the 80s and thus must be dismissed. Really bodes well for party renewal.

9:56 am, May 30, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the whole thing demonstrated why we shouldn't bother with a deputy leader, at while in government. Three of the six fell over themselves in their bids to distance themselves from the government they have all served in one capacity or another for most of the last decade while the otrher three were harmless but seemed to be standing as a way of getting a job under the new PM.

Harriet harman, as others have said, set a new low in hypocrisy.

9:57 am, May 30, 2007

Anonymous 1st Pref Crudd said...

I appreciated Hazel's upfront honesty and her consistent positions. I don't agree with them at all but I'll preference her above Hain and Harman. But was it just me or did she try to claim that there were WMDs in Iraq??

9:58 am, May 30, 2007

Blogger Doctor Dunc said...

Didn't see it, but have heard lots of accounts of it. I can't muster an iota of enthusiasm for the thing.

10:04 am, May 30, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with you Luke on the Harman disaster area on Newsnight: esp. on Iraq war statement was she not actually HM Solicitor General from 2001-2005?

10:59 am, May 30, 2007

Anonymous grassrootsgal said...

I know we all have our preferred candidates and all that, but to claim that Harman was awful is disingenuous - no one candidate stood out, but Harriet put in a good performance and will have had many people that left the party in despair over iraq and spin punching the air in agreement.

11:07 am, May 30, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Grassrootsgal - exactly. She gave succor to New Labour's political enemies and endorsed their messed-up world view.

11:12 am, May 30, 2007

Blogger Benjamin said...

That's the trouble. Luke cannot fathom the notion that there can legitimately be differences of views on Iraq within the party. Labour folk who take a different view from Blair over Iraq or other issues are the ENEMY or give succor to the ENEMY and must be EXTERMINATED.

Exterminate! Exterminate!

11:25 am, May 30, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

The view is legitimate. But wrong. I'm just not interested in appeasing it.

11:36 am, May 30, 2007

Anonymous Jane said...

Hilary Benn - statesmanlike, articulate and would appeal to the wider public.

Alan Johnson was himself - no apologies and very likeable.

Jon Crudas - cannot make him out. Seemed naive.

Harriet Harman - hypocrite and undertaken so many u-turns I do not know what she represents. Overly ambitious for her abilities.

Peter Hain - likeable but arrogant and also making u-turns. I thought the PM had to bring in John Reid when delicate negotiations were needed in NI as Peter Hain had upset some of the participants!

Hazel Blears - lovely and fiercely loyal which is a most positive attribute. I wish her 90 seconds had been better.

In order of preference:

1. Hilary Benn
2. Alan Johnson
3. Hazel Blears
4. Peter Hain
5. Jon Cruddas
6. Harriet Harman

12:20 pm, May 30, 2007

Anonymous Dan said...

I was surprisingly impressed by Hazel. Given the deputyship is pretty much a glorified non-job outside of its campaigning elements, and Blears seems to be an ultra-loyal, happy, buzzing, campaigning machine sent back from the future to win elections, I'll probably end up voting for her.

Disappointed by all the others. Johnson, Harman and Hain all came off rather self-obsessed and none too trustworthy. Solid performance from Cruddas but I don't think he'll win. If Benn wasn't so tall I don't think I'd have noticed he was even present.

1:19 pm, May 30, 2007

Blogger donpaskini said...

I thought that one lesson we had painfully learned over the past twenty five years was that we should not cling to dogmatic and unpopular policies or tell swing voters that their 'messed up world view' should not be 'appeased'.

Harriet Harman and Jon Cruddas seem to have spotted this and the other four, despite their many other qualities, haven't.

1:21 pm, May 30, 2007

Anonymous Michael said...

Hazel Blears did NOT give straight answers saying ,when asked who she would vote for if not standing herself, 'ooh him for this, her for that, but me really'came accross as appalling and slimey at exactly the point when faith needs to be rebuilt in politics - and what's more you know it.

As for your attack on Cruddas, yawn yawn dear i'm afraid. 'Oooh he actually mentioned a soft left policy, the pereption will be that he wants everyone in a mine' is stupid, cowardly amd immature. Clearly Luke does not believe in even these policies and excuses it by harpingon about 'oooh perceptions we must abase ourselves before peoples misguided perceptions that only exist in my head!'. Should we put some effort in to challenege peopes perceptions? Make the case for what we really believe? No says luke, for that would require fighting perceptions and the media, and quite frankly i cant be bothered. Sorry working class, but if you want us in power we'll feel obliged to act just like all the other bastards coz of 'perceptions'! Feeble.

1:58 pm, May 30, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke - what you just said about Cruddas was an absolute joke and pretty ridiculous.

Yeah so Cruddas has got nominations from compass types who like there meetings.

However, at my CLP meeting he was backed by trade unionists, campaigners, ex party staff and a notable number of right wingers.

He is miles ahead of Hazel because yes he is good at campaigning and not just leafleting. Stop being so ridiculously petulant. The way in which he has taken the lead on campaigning is actually quite sophisticated and it is what we have been doiing in Manchester for a while now.

What he has got on Hazel is that he has her campaigning ability, enthusiasm e.t.c; but what he also has is the ability to engage and listen. On issues like social housing.

And for goodness sake, I think the right to buy is totally right; but you must replace the stock. Stop making everyone who takes a slight disagreement with a Government policy sound like a rabid left winger.

I'm proud to support him and proud that my union is supporting. I'm certainly on the right of the party; but you fail to realise, Cruddas is not left wing!

2:07 pm, May 30, 2007

Anonymous expecting to be dismissed as a compass trot or whatever said...

I think donpaskini has summed it up pretty well. Luke, it wasn't just left-wing dogma that kept Labour down, it was dogma full stop. The right-wing Blairite kind will prove to be just as damaging (as it already is, as demonstrated by membership halving and Labour being reduced to the 3rd party of local government). As far as I'm concerned all the other candidates are probably assured some sort of government position, but a victory for Jon Cruddas will be a real sign that Labour is willing to think honestly about its future.

2:31 pm, May 30, 2007

Anonymous tears over blears said...

But I'm sure that Blears' plan to get working-class people to go to theatres will secure a 4th term for Labour.

2:32 pm, May 30, 2007

Blogger Chris Paul said...

This is an extraordinarily partisan "report". More like a "distort".

2:36 pm, May 30, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I do apologise, I dared to criticise the living saint who is Jon Cruddas.

If you bothered to read my post earlier this week, I agree with his stance on more social housing. It's the way he presented it last night that I think is rubbish.

The people from the right of the party - some of them good friends of mine - who are backing a candidate who breaks the whip, undermines the Key Seat strategy, is opposed to the renewal of our strategic nuclear deterrent, is nominated by Diane Abbott, endorsed by Ken Livingstone, and has Compass as his footsoldiers - should be ashamed of themselves.

Their self-indulgent fantasising about Cruddas as a kind of mockney Howard Dean, peddling patronising outdated nonsense about what the working classes might want, are a fast track method of making Labour extremely unelectable.

2:36 pm, May 30, 2007

Blogger Chris Paul said...

Labour people against the war and fed up with spin are ENEMIES? Hardly. Labour people for the war without regret and for more spin are the ENEMA that could see Labour down the pan.

2:44 pm, May 30, 2007

Anonymous THE CRUDDAS POLICE said...



6:55 pm, May 30, 2007

Anonymous rupahuq said...

Hello Luke, Have linked to this post at: http://rupahuq.co.uk/
Was wondering, is your little lad as obsessed by Thomas the Tank Engine as mine? Seems metaphorical that Gordon the slightly gruff engine turns more cheery in later episodes. Parents of toddlers will know what I mean...

10:28 am, June 02, 2007


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