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, September 03, 2008

The tragedy of Charles Clarke

There is something desperately sad about the latest attention-seeking outburst from Charles Clarke.

Sad for him because with every outburst he walks further into the wilderness when he ought to be trying to be a team player and contributing to the Party and the Government's recovery.

But infinitely sadder for the Labour Party because the stupid, stupid timing of his completely unnecessary article has knocked all the positive policy announcements this week off the headlines and given the media the chance to reprise stories about division just as most of the Party is trying to put its weight behind a relaunch.

Charles should be part of the solution but he is repeatedly making himself part of the problem.

I do not understand how such an intelligent man can behave with such lack of self-awareness.

He writes "Everyone in Labour needs to stop obsessing about the past and to start obsessing about the future" but says this in an article that is almost entirely devoted to rehearsing historical arguments about the policy divisions of the past.

He offers not one single positive policy or strategy for the future in his article.

He says "Labour is destined to disaster if we go on as we are" - but "going on as we are" includes writing coded articles that are clearly designed to undermine the Prime Minister.

He's right about one thing though - "there is no Blairite plot". I know a lot of Blairites and most of them would cringe with embarrassment to be associated with his random and damaging interventions.

Stop doing it please Charles. Just put a sock in it.

Postscript: I failed to notice at first that he also attacks the replacement of Trident in the article - i.e. about the only concrete position he takes on policy is actually to attack one of Blair's most strategically important legacies. At least this helps clarify he is nothing to do with the right of the Party.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Miliband gave a positive set of messages in his (albeit) controversial Guardian article in July, Number 10 gave him the total hairdryer treatment in the papers. OTT in my view.

If you are right on this, and Clarke is indeed walking in the wilderness then presumably that's what we can expect from the same tomorrow.

Anything less would be rather odd.

10:46 pm, September 03, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've got to realise that it's getting very fashionable these days to burn down the house, shoot all the animals, wife, kids and yourself.

2:32 am, September 04, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought Charles gave a very measured, thoughtful interview on the Today Programme this morning, and I disagree with your post Luke. It is Gordon's tragedy all the way.

What Charles is doing here is ventilating the issues that we are all wrestling with at the moment.

It's not Gordon I blame, but the appallingly arrogant and incompetent team he currently has around him. The quality of advice he is receiving is inexplicably poor:

Why, for example did he not make a major speech at the relaunch?

Why did it look like he was out supporting one of Hazel's smaller departmental initiatives?

Why were the Tories able to say that the stamp duty rise would only help 9 people in the entire borough Gordon visited?

Why are lobby correspondents not being properly briefed?

These are basic questions that a good comms team should be able to answer.

I hope other senior party members have Charles' courage and honesty over the next few weeks.

9:34 am, September 04, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I hope everyone shuts up for the next few weeks and let's Gordon make his case.

There's a time and place for a debate like this and timing your interventions to sabotage a carefully planned relaunch, in the run-up to a critical conference, is self-indulgent in the extreme.

10:09 am, September 04, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Nothing to do with the right of the party?

You can't be serious Luke.

Clarke has always been a bloated blowhard. He was one when he was a diehard Marxist and one as a member of Blair's cabinet. As Home Secretary he proved himself incompetent and frankly I doubt any sensible social democrat has mourned his absence, but then comrade you really are not that sensible are you?

This moronic Billy Bunter has helped further our problems in the party with this pointless article. This is the sort of non solidarity that is sadly increasingly common among the Labour Party as a whole.

I would echo your call for Clarke to shut it, no one wants to listen to him bleating on and on, well maybe you do........

11:05 am, September 04, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Despite actually agreeing the Brown should go as soon as possible for the good of the Labour Party and himself, I'm not clear what Clarke is adding to the debate at this point.

I don't think there's anything coded about his intervention here and certainly not about his follow-up blast on Radio 5 this morning.

He's just offering a series of increasingly bitter sounding statements of the obvious.

One option, as Luke suggests if for Clarke to muck in and do his bit for the team. The other option is for him to actually mount a leadership challenge. Not sure who benefits from the current inbetween position.

11:14 am, September 04, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly Clarke needs to learn to keep his trap shut ("divided party" is number two behind "rising prices" in terms of negative feedback on the doorstep at the moment where I am). But you can't just wish him away from being connected to the right of the party, unless you're willing to ditch Milburn and his hangers-on too. Clarke is those people's responsibility to deal with & if they can't get him to shut up then they've got to diassociate themselves from him before he can be considered no longer part of the right of the party and just a Bob Marshall-Andrewsesque maverick.

12:25 pm, September 04, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In times of war you need your friends around you

1:05 pm, September 04, 2008

Blogger CityUnslicker said...

he is right though, that is the problem. awkward, but he sees the lies as everyone else and says it.

He is G. Howe.

1:28 pm, September 04, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:46 PM, September 03, 2008

Number 10 did not give Milliband hair dryer treatmenmt. He made a blatant bid to be take over. OK fair enough after the by election. How can you pretend Milliband was just writing an innocent artcile it was spun by his people as a start of a campaign. We are not stupid.
Clarke is just cayung probhlmes for the party. I am sure if we find in 6 or 7 months time it would be better for a new leader to take over that will happen. But there is no point in changing leader before a possible recession.
Clarke has just kicked the party in the teeth. I do not see how this even helps Milliband. All it does is harm the chances of a recovery. I honeslty wonder if Clarke is going to defect to the tories.

3:00 pm, September 04, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get real. The "relaunch" was dead the moment that the idiots in No 10 allowed it to be called that.

The first step to recovery is recognising you have a problem. Charles Clarke at least has the guts to stand up and shout "the emperor is naked". There's never a good time for that, but it still has to be done.

4:18 pm, September 04, 2008

Blogger tory boys never grow up said...

Since when has stating the obvious been wrong - if it gets GB out of his bunker (or anyone with better presentation skills on his behalf) to fight his corner and state his position then it will be a good thing. The Party needs to stop sleep walking and giving the appearance that Cameron has all the ideas when in fact he has none - and is probably far more less inclined to interfere in markets which are not operating efficiently, which is the source of most problems at present.

Perhaps it is a good thing that Clarke isn't coming through with positive policy or stategies at present - it gives the Party's leader the chance to act as just that by being the first to do so.

The current sit back and do very little approach is depressing me thorougly at the moment.

4:48 pm, September 04, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only is he nothing to do with the right of the party, he's got fuck all to do with the left either. Wingnut at best has a clique of two others behind him.

5:12 pm, September 04, 2008

Blogger Shamik Das said...

What exactly did Clarke say that was untrue?

Compare his article with the palpable nonsene being spouted by Balls.

Brown must go. Now.

5:49 pm, September 04, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wether you like it or not, GB is the problem, not Clarke.

I am afraid we are cutting it a little fine waiting for Brown to do the honarable thing and resign.

If Clarke can tip him the black spot, or encourage him to venture into the back room with a loaded revolver and a bottle of whisky then the sooner the better.


6:35 pm, September 04, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gordon has had more than enough time to make his case. The man is useless and not fit for leadership

7:58 pm, September 04, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is rubbish to say the PM should leave.
We have 3 options
1. The leader resings now so giving a new leader a recession to take over in, so they will almost certainly be destroyed by that within a few months.
2. Wait till after the recession and then change the leader 3 - 5 months before the next election for a real fresh start. But this would mean waiting a 8- 9 months more.
3. Keep the present leader and realise opinion surveys do not indicate anyone else would do any better.

I think option 2 or 3 are the only sensible idea changing th leader now is madness.

We do not nee a bunch cocaine conservatives to tell is what to do.

8:52 pm, September 04, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Clarke wants to make a fool of himself attacking someone can't he make cocaine allegations about the tory leader.

11:51 pm, September 04, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dirty Euro. When do you think this recession will be over......I can know for sure it won't be over in the next 4 years.

Our economic problems are very serious and they are not just going to vanish in 12 months time. We have built a whole economy on debt and financial services. Now people can't re mortgage their homes they are running out of cash to spend. Our service sector economy is falling over....and we are all going to pay.

The conservatives are very concerned that they will be taking office when the country is in the grip of a serious recession.

Forget about what you're hearing on the tele, the reality is far more serious.

7:11 pm, September 05, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rich pardon my Alistair Darling but that is Bull shit. You are a tory missinformation merchant. There is no serious economist who says it will last "FOUR" years. That is just a pathetic missinformation trick to say "Hey labour why do not you hold an election now! then the tories can take over and get the blame for the 4 year recession, and you can get back int power then".
How dumb do you think labour are. It will last one year. Everyone knows that. There is no economist who says it will last 4 years. Give me some real evidence.
Oooo the tories are worried about what they will inheirt well don't inherit it then. You bunch of cocaine heads lead by failed PR man. National debnt is lower than it was under your last government. Don't you feel any shame in spreaing this missinformation. Why do you do it? Who pays you?

11:20 am, September 06, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The forecasters said we would avoid a recession, they also said we would avoid a house price crash.....However, those in business have been predicting this for some time.

You either listen to academics and government spin doctors or people at the sharp end who are seeing falling orders and planning to cut back on workers.

The recession will follow house prices and there will be at least a 2 year lag, which is how I based my argument.

Credit Crunch To Last 18 months

3:59 pm, September 06, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rich Your article says the recession will last 18 months not 4 years.

9:12 am, September 08, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

If the recession lasts 18 Months or 4 years it will do a lot of damage to the canon fodder working classes, but the ones to be bailed out will be the better classes of course?

5:36 pm, September 08, 2008


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