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.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Blears 1, Johnson 2

With the ballot papers now going out, my personal intention (and that of a lot of other Blears supporters I have spoken to) is to give my second preference vote to Alan Johnson.

Hazel gets my first preference because I want a woman deputy leader and I want a deputy leader who sees the role primarily as being about campaigning and Party development.

However, whilst they differ on some specific issues, both Alan and Hazel are coming from the same place in terms of wanting to build on, rather than retreat from, the successes of the last 10 years of Labour Government, and to not lose focus on the need for Labour to lay claim to the election-winning centre-ground of British politics. To one extent or another all the other candidates have offered hostages to fortune during the current campaign that could be used to embarrass Gordon Brown during a General Election campaign. So I have no hesitation or reluctance in giving Alan Johnson my second preference - in fact it's something I'm doing with enthusiasm.

I hope his supporters will reciprocate by giving their second preference votes to Hazel.


Blogger Owen said...

Not exactly a fair swap, is it? I mean, that'd only give Johnson about, what, 7% of second preferences?

5:57 pm, June 06, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although I'd already decided I would put Hazel Blears last of the six candidates I hadn't made up my mind who to put second last. But this has clinched it for me - it's Alan Johnson.

6:15 pm, June 06, 2007

Blogger Sham said...

Not exactly a fair swap, is it? I mean, that'd only give Johnson about, what, 7% of second preferences?

This coming from the man who managed to get, what, only 8% of the PLP to support John McDonnell?


6:53 pm, June 06, 2007

Blogger Owen said...

"This coming from the man who managed to get, what, only 8% of the PLP to support John McDonnell?


Ah Sham, as pleasant as ever.

The fact that John McDonnell failed to get the requisite number of nominations had less to do with the failings of our campaign than the fact that the much stronger Brown machine had decided it did not want a contest.

This explains the fact, for example, why John was the only declared candidate and why we did not have a contest for the first time in 1931 - despite the obvious hostility towards Brown of a large section of the PLP.

As the recent YouGov poll demonstrated, John McDonnell had significant and growing grassroots support despite the near total absence of media coverage and the fact he was deprived of a platform in an actual contest. Indeed, his support is far greater than that enjoyed by Hazel Blears.

The fact that we have not had a contest is actually very damaging to our party. We have a leader who lacks a genuine democratic mandate. A friendly contest about the policies would have given the party a real boost - just as contests did for the Lib Dems and the Tories. It would have given a real boost in morale to our activists, particularly the thousands who joined to have a vote for the next leader.

Instead we have what is, in my view, a very boring non-contest over a very boring non-job.

8:18 pm, June 06, 2007

Blogger El Dave. said...

I would add to Owen (although I wouldn't have wanted McDonnell as leader) that I think the deputy leadership is doing the party good. Certainly, Hazel's leaflet (which was sitting in my postbox this morning) refers to a thousand members joining a week as the campaign has gone on.

9:39 pm, June 06, 2007

Blogger el Tom said...

Johnson is growing on me. He seems to have pitched to the left in recent days.

11:06 pm, June 06, 2007

Anonymous Andy said...

I'm voting Benn two as Johnson is too pro-PR. He'll get my three though.

11:59 pm, June 06, 2007

Blogger Owen said...

Oh come on, Tom, you're not as naive as that. Johnson is posturing to the left because he is standing for the deputy leadership. As soon as this election is over, all that rhetoric will immediately within seconds. This is why we have never heard this rhetoric before.

Indeed, whatever rhetoric he opportunistically adopts now, Johnson is a through-and-through Blairite. He has previously called for slashing the union vote at Conference from 50% to 15%. He unapologetically supports policies such as the war in Iraq and marketisation within public services.

There is nothing about Johnson that should attract the support of someone on the soft left such as yourself.

12:40 am, June 07, 2007

Blogger Benjamin said...

Yes, some new members are joining because of the Deputy Leadership contest, but I wonder how many will stay?

McDonnell's campaign was more meaningful, and a proper debate for the leadership (a basic democratic act after 13 years with the same leader) would have brought in more members who would have been more likely to stay.

The key point to understand about McDonnell is that his campaign was crushed by the PLP (through very strong Brown pressure) not because it was weak in the party, but because McDonnell had growing support. Brown would have still won, but the party machine did not want the votes of ordinary members recorded.

After all, that's what democrats do.

2:51 am, June 07, 2007

Anonymous croslander said...

Rebuild the party? I wonder how many members Hazel's CLP has. 150? 200?

I am struggling to understand exactly who it is that the cult of Blears thinks Hazel appelas to. Voters? Hardly. Members? Not according to the evidence at hand. Still, there is no denying the passion of the Blearsites, however inexplicable.

6:41 am, June 07, 2007

Blogger LeeF said...


I am a committed supporter of Alan's for a range of reasons, including the fact that he has articluated the same political views and philosophy throughout his union and political career, even when some of those views have made him unpopular within the Labour movement.

I have every intention of giving Hazel my second preference for the job, as I have been impressed by her campaign, although part of me thinks that this election has come five years too soon for Hazel.

I have been largely disappointed with the grubbing around for votes and left spoutings of the other candidates, especially as it is obvious they will revert to type once the election is over.

10:07 am, June 07, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm second preferencing Johnson too - but I'm first preferencing Benn.

I think Harman and Hain are posturing left. Cruddas may well be actually left and a bit too hard lefty for my taste - and more importantly when he loses his underdog tag people will start to see his demeanour as a bit thuggish - as that's how he's come accross at the hustings I've been at. I also fear that he may not actually be as totally genuine as people make out - worked at No. 10, voted for the war as a backbencher (worse, from an anti-war perspective which I don't share, than as a member of the government for a whole range of reasons).

I wouldn't support Hazel as whilst I like her organisational message, and her style, and share many of her politics I think this is also a political and symbolic election - and electing somebody who is so apologetic about our leadership to the public is electoral madness. In much the same way as Hain, Harman, and Cruddas would be viewed as an apology for ten years of Blairism, I think Blears has made the mistake of making her election about apologising for Brownism, even without actually saying anything about it - just by her approach. I think that would be electorally embarrassing to have a deputy leader who either sent the message to the public "sorry we've been crap for 10 years" (on which Hazel is absolutely right) but also "Sorry Gordon's not tony, but i'm here so it's ok" which would be just as bad.

Hazel has my support for Party Chair as I think that's the position she wants. Deputy leader is a political position, who should be at the top of government making sure that there's someone unsackable in a high ministerial role who can tell the prime minister to hold back when the membership,the PLP,the Unions, voters in marginal seats are all screaming stop but the PM can't hear - which happens to all PMs of all colours. With an elected Party Chair -which should happen- there isn't actually a job of "deputy leader" to do - it's just a trump card that frees somebody up to talk frankly to the leader. so there's no reason why, in fact strong reasons for, they shouldn't hold serious ministerial office too.

I think Johnson could play that role - but Benn get's the nod for three reasons.

1. Benn has an easy air of integrity. I don't know anyone who has a genuinely bad word to say about him and people naturally trust him.

2. Johnson was politically foolish enough to get himself embroiled in the "stop Brown" nonsense last summer which prompted the unrest of the autumn from Party members and the PLP and forced TB out early.

3. Johnson supports PR, organising in Northern Ireland, and a range of other things that make me a bit uneasy. Although I'll be honest and say I don't know what Benn's position is on some of these things.

11:55 am, June 07, 2007

Blogger Bill said...

How many prerences do we get (i.e. is it straight alternative vote? Or is it likle the London mayor where you get a 1st & 2nd?) If it's striaght AV, Luke, what's you're Third preference?

12:03 pm, June 07, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

It's full AV, numbered 1-6.

I intend to vote for Benn as number 3.

Given the unpredictability of the election I would advise people to use all their preferences - it could get decided on 5th preferences.

12:29 pm, June 07, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would not even give Johnson or Blears the dignity of gracing my ballot paper. A more definitive pair of right-wingers you will not find in the Socialist Labour party. I predict they will both be eliminated early. Its good news that CWU revoked their support of Johnson!!

3:42 pm, June 07, 2007

Blogger Sham said...

Here we go again!

All those who opposed democracy in Iraq bleating on about a lack of democracy in the Labour Party.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry

5:38 pm, June 07, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

mate, you are completely unhinged and a total laughing stock

7:57 pm, June 07, 2007

Blogger Sham said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:38 pm, June 08, 2007

Blogger wozza said...

sham -

where do you get off?

dagenham east perchance?

it's pointless dragging up what you are attempting to - no one is going to rise to it.

4:25 am, June 10, 2007

Blogger Sham said...

Yeah, that's right, ignore the accusations of hypocrisy.

No democracy for Iraq, but anything less than "100% democracy, no holds barred" for the Labour Party and all hell breaks loose.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the mantra of the far-Left appears to be "hypocrisy, hypocrisy, hypocrisy".

8:38 pm, June 10, 2007

Blogger wozza said...

(ok, i'll bite)

when the degree of moral equivalence you are asking us to engage in appears i'll join you in your tirade.

lets look at this dispassionately and logically -
election of the leader of the party that currentoly holds most seats in a legislaure (is equal to) to invading a country that didn't attack us, disolving a police force and army, letting looting go unchecked for weeks and holding national elections after business taxes and foreign ownership issues were settles to Bremmers satisfaction.

just checking that that is where you stand on the issue - if you are seeing equivalence there, and can be backed up by anyone here maybe, just maybe an accusation of leftist hypocrisy can be validated

Iraq wasn't just a leftist thing - Pat BUchannon and many of the old school US conservatives were against it - as were many ex military and career civil service types in this country. Bastion of socialism that the career civil service is.

and hey -it's an "election" within the new labour party - when was the last time accusations of leftism or democracy could be thrown at that process.

9:45 pm, June 10, 2007

Blogger Sham said...

invading a country that didn't attack us

That's a very Right-wing argument! I was under the impression that international socialism was about more than mere national self-interest.

You say you supported the Kosovo conflict, but tell me, did Serbia attack us?

Pat Buchannon and many of the old school US conservatives were against it

One of the wackier conspiracy theories I've heard is that Pat Buchanan was the brains behind the Iraq war; the man who told George Bush to invade so he could distribute bibles to the Iraqis and convert them all.

1:33 pm, June 11, 2007

Blogger wozza said...

you might be thinking of Pat Robertson - who openly called for the assasibnation of Hugo Chavez - and who runs the Christian Broadcast Network, Pat Buchanon is a right wing small government america first paleo conservative.

The difference with Kosovo (and Sierra Leone) was that the problems there were immediate. We could see mass genocides being committed by an out of control Milosovich and a raging Civil War in Sierra Leone against the legitimate government.

Iraq was totally different - in Kosovo and Sierra Leone the democratic structures and movements were in place - we had plans, troop strenght and legitimate local forces (in SL anyway) to turn things over to.

There is a time and a place for everything - including helping struggling peoples in other countries - Iraq was not that time or place.
And before you ask "who am i to judge who is worth helping?" - there are more starving peoples in North Korea who had a real weapons program, Zimbabwe has hyper inflation, mass imprisonments, mass starvation AND an actual internal movement we can hand things over to. Burma, China, several of the Stans - all with horrendous human rights records, mass starvations and vile leaders.

Must we put our self interest ahead of others? - yes. i'm sorry to be blunt - but Iraq wasn't a threat to us - there were myriad threats out there (and here) who could cause us infinitely more damage.

I will say this to you - invading Iraq did the poeple of Afghanistan a dis-service, our relative troop strength plummeted and we allowed the resurgance of the religiously zealous taliban.
Say what you will about Saddam - he was an equal-ops dictator - there were Jewish and Christian sects remaining in Secular Iraq. Women had education rights and seats in cabinet.

Yup, we overthrew one of the most socially progressive regiemes in the region ;) (speaking dispassionately and geo-politically, of course)

We destroyed the counterbalance to Islamic radicalism in the region, Iran stands cock of the walk.
I don't know whats good about any of that.

Sham you are engaging in classic mid 18th century proselytism - we are going to go over there and give them what ever we think they need. And to heck with the consequences if with the gospel we bring - pneumonia, whooping cough, small pox and the plaugue. The important thing is the message - the message above all else - come to us, be with us, you too can share in the bounty. (cough cough)

Then problem with proselytism is that not only do you generally cause nations and peoples to fall through the diseases you spread (law of unintended consequence, if you haven't followed the metaphor) but you also put the backs up of the neighbouring tribes, they regard anyone spreading the same message with suspicion - as it often comes with a horrible cost.

After all - we are trying to argue the metaphysical here - democracy is nothing but a concept the same as religion - or market capitalism.
The 90 day plan taken by the Americans to Baghdad was incredibly well detailed - on how to make the stock market work again, how to stimulate economic growth, how to encourage foreign investment - reorganising the Iraqi phamacuetical industry.
The problem was - those plans were taken forward above the priorities of getting the electricty back, turning the water back on, stopping looting, getting the local mullahs onside.

Iraq wasn't about democracy -democracy was about as low on the list as it could be - and there was a list. But that list entailed allowing foreign conglomerates in, lowering the business tax, selling off the Iraqi peoples oil - Elections came a very very very long way down the list of goals.


12:37 am, June 12, 2007


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