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, June 05, 2007

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.

20 Comments:

Blogger Owen said...

" 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'm not sure what this "openness means" given the deputy leader has absolutely no policy-making powers. He could promise the nationalisation of the top 200 monopolies and it wouldn't really make any difference, would it?

9:01 am, June 05, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

It would make a difference to the morale of your lot, and public perceptions of the Party.

9:26 am, June 05, 2007

 
Blogger Owen said...

To be honest, I don't agree. I'm on the left and I'm entirely indifferent about this contest. The efforts of the Cruddas team to triangulate support (to the right - "he's not a really a leftwinger and he's a very good activist"; to the left - "look at all these progressive policies he supports") and the posturing of other deputy leadership candidates has muddied the waters.

The fact that virtually all the candidates (even Johnson) has had to posture somewhat to the left is vindication enough of our assertion that the remaining rump of the party and trade unionists are significantly to the left of the leadership.

10:05 am, June 05, 2007

 
Blogger Chris Paul said...

Congratulations Luke on another post without 'side'. Admirable that despite your huge commitment to HB you are able to summarise JC so carefully, without malice. Keep it up!

PS One of the interesting things about JC is his appeal to the young 'uns in general as well as to lefties and unionists. Clearly unless he polls 51% of first preferences which is highly unlikely to put it mildly ... if would need two thirds of the TU and half the CLP votes as well as his more or less level pegging in the PLP.

You are right to say that preferences down the way (and not just 2s and 3s) will decide this. Doh! And this is a rather underpolled and underconsidered factor in the MSM and the partisan blogs.

10:15 am, June 05, 2007

 
Anonymous Ian G said...

You accuse Jon of pandering to the left on trident, a 50% tax and nationalisation of the railways. According to the YouGov survey which you quote in detail below, Jon is actually in tune with the majority of the membership.

How dare those deputy leadership candidates go round blatantly representing the views of members? Disgraceful behaviour.

And by the way, I've never met an active Cruddas supporter who was campaigning for Benn in 81...

10:21 am, June 05, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JC will get most of HH and PHs 2s and 3s and vice versa, he will also get some of AJ's if he were out. Even Benn's. There is even a route that goes HB > HH > JC which may kick in.

10:23 am, June 05, 2007

 
Anonymous Non-bennites for cruddas said...

Luke, don't forget the guys has also described Blair as a "political genius", is clear about his support for ID cards, and is also in favour of nuclear power. Maybe you haven't heard him say these things, but then again maybe you're not listening properly.

10:42 am, June 05, 2007

 
Anonymous Andy said...

I tend to agree with you on this Luke. I don't disagree with Cruddas on most areas of policy - even some of his more 'left' commitments like renationalising the railways (I suprised myself be being overcome with a wave of emotion when coming across a recent Times front page which claimed Gordon was secretly planning to do this) and have argued against replacing Trident on this blog because it strikes me that there are more cost effective ways of maintaining a nuclear deterrent.

However, we are facing the threat of a rejuvenated tory party under Cameroon. Yes, we need to renew ourselves in Government, but we need to do this with a sense of discipline, loyalty and self control. Not by striking oppositionist poses which create the impression among the wider electorate that we are divided and disorganised.

For this reason, Cruddas won't be getting any of my preferences (neither will Harman or Hain). I'll be voting Blears 1, Benn 2 and Johnson 3.

10:50 am, June 05, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anyone imagine a more wasteful (in terms of time and money) policy than renationalising the utilities. Surely it is about time the Labour Party was mature enough to recognise the benefits competition has brought? Do we *really* want to go back to the days of the GPO and a waiting list for phones?

11:03 am, June 05, 2007

 
Anonymous Cruddas 4 Deputy said...

Luke's post = yet more desperation

11:03 am, June 05, 2007

 
Blogger Owen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:22 am, June 05, 2007

 
Blogger Owen said...

I'm genuinely neutral in this contest and there are some great comrades involved in the Cruddas campaign - but these comments don't half prove my point about their attempt at triangulation! Being everything to everyone doesn't work...

Saturday's YouGov poll did reveal that more Cruddas supporters wanted to vote for McDonnell than for Brown. I hope that certain Cruddasites bear this in mind.

11:23 am, June 05, 2007

 
Blogger Benjamin said...

Luke hopes Cruddas won't win. I think he's pretty sure to beat Hazel though, whatever happens.

11:25 am, June 05, 2007

 
Blogger grimupnorth said...

Well, I'm old enough to have campaigned for Benn in 1981 and let me tell you the difference.In those days , boys and girls, the NEC was left, a huge chunk of the PLP was left, and the vast majority of the membership was left.So, had Benn won that contest ( which tragically he didn't by a tiny fraction) the Deputy Leader could have used it as a serious lever to change policy. Foot was Leader then.
Now Cruddas can bang on all he likes about left policies but the fact of the matter is he will have no influence at all.Because Brown didn't have to face a leadership contest ( aided in that by Cruddas/Trickett and other faux lefties) he's not being held to account and he will probably carry on his own sweet way. After the DL contest is over (please God, soon....) the only way forward is to recruit members, build the Party, campaign have more left councilors and MPs and try and cnage the make-up of the PLP.
It's going to be a long game.... as far as I'm concerned (others differ\) Cruddas has no credibility at all.So, yes, he can call for the nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy and I still wouldn't vote for him.
Because it's meaningless posturing.

11:52 am, June 05, 2007

 
Blogger Sham said...

Don't forget the guy has also described Blair as a "political genius", is clear about his support for ID cards, and is also in favour of nuclear power.

All great reasons for voting Cruddas!

We need to hear more of the above and less talk of 50% tax rates, pulling out of Iraq and scrapping Trident.

Appeasing the extremists like Owen can lead only to failure.

12:05 pm, June 05, 2007

 
Anonymous shamcontest2007 said...

Nice to see Sham on board the Cruddas bandwagon.I rest my case......

1:21 pm, June 05, 2007

 
Blogger Owen said...

The problem with the strategy of triangulation is that all it will actually achieve is winning over some on the left and a few Brownite mavericks - while many on the left and most Brownites will look at Cruddas with suspicion. It's that old phrase - if you're middle-of-the-road you'll get knocked down by traffic in both directions.

The YouGov poll revealed that more party members voting for Cruddas are McDonnell supporters than Brown supporters (49% v 47% respectively). With affiliated trade unionists, 55% of Cruddas supporters are going for McDonnell and 39% are going for Brown.

The poll also reveals that the Cruddas camp haven't even won over the majority of McDonnell supporters. That's not a good sign from their perspective because it means the triangulation strategy with the left - i.e. "the left will have to vote for Cruddas because they've got nowhere else to go" - isn't working properly.

The efforts of some (and I mean only some - because there are good comrades in the Cruddas campaign) Cruddasites to distance themselves from the left and even denounce the McDonnell campaign in fairly aggressive terms will only result in even less support for Cruddas. To be honest, some of the comments I've seen have verged on red-baiting - of the sort we haven't seen from any of the other campaigns.

But anyway, I don't think this is a particularly important contest and at the end of the day most people will treat it as a personality contest over a total non-job.

1:44 pm, June 05, 2007

 
Blogger el Tom said...

The sock puppets are certainly out and about today...

3:46 pm, June 05, 2007

 
Anonymous shameleon said...

Sham is backing Benn, IIRC from his blog. Could be some fireworks if he bumps into Jeremy Corbyn at a Benn campaign rally...

8:05 pm, June 05, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem here is the alarming trend of sensible, vote-winning policies to be things only the Hard Left likes. Re-nationalising the railways, for instance, is a policy that would save money, deliver enormous improvements to a public service, and is supported by the overhwleming majority of voters, yet the only people in the Labour Party who support it are on the left fringe. In those cirumstances, what is Cruddas to do? Should he abandon sensible, rational, popular policies for fear of only appealing to the sort of people who'd have voted for John McDonnell, or should he stick to those policies but risk alienating the sort of people who still think it's the mid-80s and we need desperately to be more like that nice Mrs. Thatcher.

12:45 pm, June 06, 2007

 

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