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.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Endorsements and non-endorsements

I'm not impressed by all the huffing and puffing from William Hague about the PM's alleged "endorsement" of Obama in the Parliamentary Monitor. Dod's Publishing must be delighted at the free publicity for one of the lesser known of their stable of journals.

I also don't think No10 should be apologising or denying an endorsement so frantically.

There are good political arguments for not interfering in overseas elections: in most cultures it really irritates the locals to have outsiders trying to tell them which way to vote, a good example being the Guardian's crazy scheme where UK liberals wrote to swing voters in Ohio in 2004 begging them to vote for John Kerry, which completely backfired.

But I can't see any in principle reason not to do it - indeed in France and Spain recent elections have seen socialist PMs and party leaders from neighbouring counties as guest speakers at the final socialist party election rallies - after all we on the left are supposed to be internationalists.

One of the few aspects of Tony Blair's premiership that I really didn't like was the hinting that he somehow preferred his diplomatic allies and personal friends Berlusconi, Sarkosy and Aznar winning to their opponents from our sister parties. It was fine to work with them in the EU where that furthered British interests but a Labour Party Leader should always be backing the socialist, social democrat or Labour (or in the US case Democrat) cause in an election - I see that as an obligation of our membership of international political families like the Socialist International and Party of European Socialists (who have a nice and very explicit endorsement of Obama on their website).

My view is that you have to separate out the two hats a Labour PM wears and Brown should be saying:

"In my capacity as Prime Minister of the UK I have to stay neutral and of course I'll work closely with whoever the people of country X choose as their leader.

But as Leader of the British Labour Party I hold a partisan position and I have a duty to call for the election of the candidate from our sister party."


Anonymous Stuart said...

I entirely agree. I suspect this is the deadhand of FCO mandarins fretting about the impact it might have on Anglo-US relations.

And Hague seems to have forgotten his membership of the Major Government that actively colluded with the republicans in its attempts to find damaging revelations about Bill Clinton's time here when he was at Oxford.

8:48 am, September 11, 2008

Anonymous Ian G said...

Wonders will never cease - I agree as well!

And yes, it's the height of hypocrisy from Hague, and I'm disappointed he hasn't been pulled up on it.

If Brown has to stay neutral, which he obviously does, perhaps Harriet Harman could issue a statement as Deputy Leader and Party Chair.

Let the Tory Party attack us for supporting Obama!

9:53 am, September 11, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

I thought the USA sister party was the Republicans, as Blair would do anything they wanted-Even take our Country into 2 Illegal wars and imperialist occupations!

12:07 pm, September 11, 2008

Anonymous Baron Samedi said...

One of Luke's constituents


5:54 pm, September 11, 2008

Blogger Duncan Hall said...

At the risk of being accused of trying to make friends (!!) I have to say I agree with you Luke.

Careful! Having me agree with you twice in a week is probably enough to have the 'fellow traveller' icon bleeping on Excaliber...

7:20 pm, September 11, 2008

Anonymous ian k said...

Glad a lot of other people can rememeber the Tories openly supporting Geoerge Bush snr, another example of Tory opportunistic hypocracy! Does anyone elese remember John MacCain addressing the 2006 Tory party conference when the The Times described him as the "Presidential Favourite"?
The other thing worth mentioning Cameron had a "photo op" with Obama after their meeting whilst Brown's meeting was behind closed doors!!

7:39 pm, September 11, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Why shouldn't Brown back Obama if asked....everyone has a preference. I'm sure if asked whether he would support McCain then you would get the same answer.

I think this has got out of context and it all comes down to bad journalism and maybe Brown not thinking about how he answers the questions thrown at him.

I'm no Brown fan but I think he done a great job this week. He has managed to secure over £1 billion to make British homes more energy efficient and it hasn't cost the tax payer a penny.

1. In the long term this will save people a lot more than the £100.00 payout that Cameron is talking about.

2. Will secure jobs in the building industry, which is needed at the moment.

3. Helps reduce our carbon footprint.

To be honest I think the press are not being fair on Brown on this issue. He has achieved the almost impossible and people should take advantage of what is on offer.

Where Labour are failing is their approach. What they should be doing is asking the conservatives where their green agenda has gone....doesn't insulation matter anymore? I think Camerons idea of a one off payment is simply stupid....what good will that do other than make the tax payer poorer.

The only answer to fuel poverty is to get people to save energy and force the energy companies into regulated tarriffs.

7:39 pm, September 11, 2008

Blogger Mark M Heenan said...

I must try that more often:

"In my capacity as a bloke you've really let yourself go, but in my capacity as your husband I think you look lovely darling"


8:44 pm, September 11, 2008

Anonymous Alexander said...

Brown is (for now) PM and as such when he speaks he speaks both as PM and Labour leader, you can't differentiate the two - it's the same way that Cabinet responsibilty works, you all accept the decisions it makes, you can't say well I'm in the Cabinet, but in my separate position as an MP is disagree because

Doesn't matter anyway. Whoever wins Brown is only going to be around for a max of just over a year.

9:02 pm, September 11, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which just prooves the point that some of the Idiots who post here have a lack of Brain Cells.

IN Wales, thanks to our Labour Led Assembly, grants for insulation, padding, D Glazing etc. have been available and taken up for the last 3 years


12:15 am, September 12, 2008

Blogger Dave Cole said...

While I agree that Brown - as leader of the Labour Party - should be free to and should endorse Obama - I feel obliged to point out, in the name of pedantry, that the Democrats aren't a member of the Socialist International. The only affiliate of the International in the USA is the Democratic Socialists of America (see list). They have endorsed Obama as the best candidate who stand a chance of winning, citing the restrictive American electoral law. They make it clear that while they recognise the Democrats as the only game in town, that doesn't mean they're ideal.


1:34 am, September 12, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


the Democratic Socialist of America is affiliated to the Democratic Party - it doesn't field separate candidates.

If my memory is correct it has links to about a dozen Congressmen.

Politically the DSA are similar to leftwing Labour people.

There used to be a second SI affiliate in the USA - Social Democrats USA, who were trade union anti-communists - but seems to have disappeared. Was also affiliated to the Democratic Party.


8:07 am, September 12, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely you remember how tough it was for John Major after he backed George Bush snr and Clinton won?

Anyway, surely a vote of confidence from Gordon is the last thing you want if you're running for elected office at the moment...!

5:10 pm, September 12, 2008

Blogger Miller 2.0 said...

This was one of the most annoying things about blair, correct.

The only sister party we have in the US is the DSUSA, which is committed to working though the democratic party.

6:03 pm, September 13, 2008

Blogger Miller 2.0 said...

"There used to be a second SI affiliate in the USA - Social Democrats USA, who were trade union anti-communists"

These guys were largely responsible for the birth of neo-conservatism - Paul Wolfowitz used to be a member, along with quite a few notable others.

6:19 pm, September 13, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

I agree with Luke on this one as well. Given how dreadful the alternative it is obvious that Obama would be far more palatable to the majority of Britons - its clear enough that man Tories are supporting him as well from comments made. The Republicans are way to the right of the Tories, and a moderate Tory like Cameron would be a Democrat in the USA.

6:47 pm, September 14, 2008


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