Has Cruddas "ducked" the hard choices?
One of the features of the YouGov poll this weekend was that whilst Jon Cruddas' first preference voters were the most motivated of any of the candidates', he was picking up very few second preference votes. In an election with 6 candidates and transferable voting, this could be fatal.
My feeling is that when he first set out his stall it wasn't a traditional left agenda - yes he was articulating issues promoted by the unions, but so are a lot of Labour moderates - and proud of it; he was talking about rejuvenating the party grassroots and upping our campaigning game, which hopefully no-one disagrees with; and he was pushing policies that were commonsense rather than wish-list, such as greater investment in social housing.
Had he stuck to that, and clearly put some distance between himself and the traditional organised Hard Left, Cruddas would have picked up a lot of second preference votes from people on the right of the Party.
But as his campaign has developed, the sense of any limits on the left flank of it seems to have disappeared. In many CLPs the cheerleaders for Cruddas are the same people that ran the Benn campaign in 1981 - just 26 years older and more embittered. And the original agenda about re-energising CLPs seems to have become one of re-energising one set of activists in CLPs - the left ones - by making nods to their policy agenda. On policy, it is not clear where Cruddas would draw the line: which policy demands from union general secretaries or left activists does he disagree with? We've seen a stream of choices, from an obviously considered one to vote against Trident replacement, through backing for a 50% top rate of tax, to an on-the-hoof announcement yesterday to the GMB conference of openness to re-nationalisation of the utilities and rail. I can't recall Cruddas at any point choosing an answer to a leftwing demand that might have lost him left votes.
The guy isn't from the left - he was Blair's union fixer in the heyday of New Labour. But if you choose to walk like a political duck, quack like a duck and swim like a duck, sooner or later the political duck-hunters will vote against you and you'll end up a politically dead duck.