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.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Full List

The full list of ministers is now online:


I need a bit of time to absorb the detail but my impression is that this is a reshuffle that will really unite the Party and consign all the historic TB-GB stuff to the dustbin of history.

Brown has been astonishingly generous to many MPs considered Blairite. For instance he has made Siobhain McDonagh a whip even though she was one of the handful who didn't nominate him for Leader.

Well done to Tom Watson on getting back into the whips' office - I hope this won't see his blog go completely into mothballs.


to Hackney South MP Meg Hillier who has been made a junior minister at the Home Office after only 2 years in Parliament.

The Brown Bounce picks up momentum

Tomorrow's Guardian ICM poll:

Lab 39% (+7%)

Con 35% (-2%)

Reshuffle bits & pieces

Excellent news that Jim Murphy - one of the most talented and politically clear-thinking ministers - has been promoted to Minister for Europe and that another bright and sound minister, Liam Byrne, is staying at Minister for Immigration.

Sad that Adam Ingram is stepping down as Armed Forces Minister - he is another of the veterans of Neil Kinnock's team in the '80s - his PPS from '88-'92 - who laid the foundations for Labour's electability.

Hilarious that the left are so worked up about Digby Jones - he's going to be promoting trade, not writing employment laws.

Churlish that Cruddas didn't take the job offered him - if he wants to change things then at some point he actually needs to be a Minister taking decisions.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Reaction from the hard left

Susan Press - http://grimmerupnorth.blogspot.com/ - says this is her "Nightmare cabinet". Well done Gordon! Already giving Labour Briefingites nightmares after only one day in the job.

Commenting on Dave Osler's blog - http://www.davidosler.com/ - she says this "Has to be the most right-wing Labour Cabinet EVER".

This is probably technically correct.

Me, I'm having a good day and looking forward to the next 10 years.

A return to discipline

Hopefully the experienced and popular in the Commons Geoff Hoon/Nick Brown combo running the whips' office means an end to the era of mass backbench rebellions and a return to PLP collective responsibility. My hunch is they will combine an ability to consult and report back to Gordon on the PLP's concerns, so that they are addressed before they come to a head, and the ability to take short, sharp disciplinary action if MPs don't accept their side of the deal, which is to vote with their own Party.


to Hazel Blears if it's true that she will be going to Communities and Local Government.

The reshuffle

I like what I'm hearing so far. I hope the speculation about a big promotion for Jacqui Smith is correct.


Whilst most bloggers have already started reacting to the incoming Cabinet I thought someone ought to express thanks to the people who are going. John Reid in particular has made a massive contribution to the first ten years of the Labour Government. Indeed, he and Pat Hewitt were key figures in Neil Kinnock's office in the '80s helping to restore Labour to electability. It's important amid the excitement of a new generation of ministers coming in that we don't forget the people who are passing on the baton.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Starting as they mean to go on

Nice to see a warm welcome to our latest recruit to the PLP, combined with loyalty and a sense of giving the new leadership a chance to bed in being exhibited by the McDonnell camp, over at Owen Jones' new blog: http://laboursfightback.blogspot.com/

A solemn moment

And so I'm sat watching Tony Blair leave for his last PMQs on News 24, the solemnity of this profound moment is only broken by being on annual leave at home and my 20 month old son accompanying the high political drama with both a running commentary and discordant noises from his ZippyMat electronic keyboard (£4.99 from the bargain bookshop, more features than Kraftwerk had available in the '80s, guaranteed parental exasperation).

Sunday, June 24, 2007

You Gov - spot off.

Remember the YouGov poll - http://extras.timesonline.co.uk/labmember.pdf - not very accurate was it?

Johnson 24% on YouGov, 17% in vote
Benn 24% on YouGov, 22% in vote
Harman 17% on YouGov, 24% in vote
Hain 13% on YouGov, 12% in vote
Cruddas 12% on YouGov, 17% in vote
Blears 9% on YouGov, 9% in vote

Johnson 26% on YouGov, 14% in vote
Benn 22% on YouGov, 15% in vote
Harman 16% on YouGov, 13% in vote
Hain 15% on YouGov, 21% in vote
Cruddas 15% on YouGov, 27% in vote
Blears 7% on YouGov, 11% in vote

Who switched?

The recorded votes of MPs and MEPs are going to make interesting reading.

At close of nominations the MPs and MEPs section was split thus (based on numbers of nominators):

Johnson 7.4%
Harman 6.0%
Hain 4.7%
Cruddas 4.6%
Blears 4.5%
Benn 4.4%
21 MPs and MEPs - 1.9% of the entire electoral college - did not nominate.

After the actual voting this switched to:
Johnson 8.08%
Harman 6.54%
Blears 4.99%
Hain 4.81%
Cruddas 4.63%
Benn 4.26%

Each MPs' vote will have gone up a fraction in value because a handful didn't vote but the numbers suggest Benn's tactical nominators didn't then vote for him and each of Johnson, Blears and Harman picked up some PLP support during the campaign.

I can't help thinking ...

that just a bit more aggressive courting of the members' section by Johnson, instead of the perceived top-down focus on the MPs carrying it for him, and he might have done it. My calculation is that if he had persuaded 1300 extra members to put him 5th and Harman 6th he would have won. Maybe the problem is that most of us who could have delivered that kind of a campaign for him were working for Hazel ... though one reason we were working for Hazel was that he didn't seem that interested in that kind of focus to the job.


The internals of our 6 round 3 part electoral college:

1st round: MPs, Members, Unions, Total
Benn 4.26, 7.21, 4.93 T:16.4
Blears 4.99, 3, 3.77 T: 11.77
Cruddas 4.63, 5.67,9.09 T 19.39
Hain 4.81, 3.87, 6.64, T:15.32
Harman: 6.54,8.04,4.35 T;18.93
Johnson 8.08, 5.53, 4.55 T:18.16

Most popular with MPs was Johnson, 2nd was Harman, 3rd was Blears
Most popular with members was Harman, 2nd was Benn, 3rd was Cruddas
Most popular with affilates was Cruddas, 2nd was Hain, 3rd was Benn

Right/left split (counting Benn, Johnson, Blears as right)
MPs: 17.33 vs 15.98
Members: 15.74 vs 17.58
Affiliates: 13.25 vs 20.08

Final round even stranger:

Harman 15.42 18.83 16.18 50.43
Johnson 17.91 14.5 17.15 49.56

Johnson won in 2 sections - affilates and MPs, but still lost.

It was the Cruddas transfers from Amicus and TGWU wot won it.

As the gossip from the count is that the union members polled heavily the way they were advised to by their executives the internal party political priority for the long term is to get the unions back to being what they historically have been - the bastion of the right of the party. If we don't ensure the successors to the current generation of General Secretaries when they retire are from the moderate wing of the party we'll end up in a decade's time with Brown's successor in a contested election being from the left.

Good stuff from Brown

Brown saying:

There will be a housing minister attending Cabinet (Cruddas?)

Harman is party chair as well as DL - so not DPM? She looked pleased.

Douglas Alexander will be GE Co-ordinator (any bets on a September 2007 election?)

NEC to set up policy forums in every constituency

OMOV decision on manifesto

More power to Parliament

Local govt to be strengthened

Salt in wounds

Just what I needed - a gloating text message from Diane Abbott. Thanks Diane.


She's paid tribute to Kinnock so maybe I'll have to revise my opinion.

Oh well.

I can't help thinking that all this stems back to Sir Ken Jackson losing the Amicus General Secretaryship by a couple of hundred votes a few years ago.

At least we know Harriet will follow instructions from Gordon.

Those of us on the right of the party need a serious strategic rethink - the two most left-talking candidates came 1st and 3rd so something was badly wrong with our campaigning or our organisation.


What happened to Benn? Eliminated 3rd???


Hmmm looks like my 1st choice came 6th and my 6th choice came first ... time for a little humility I guess.

BBC saying Harman

Well that's a surprise...

Another change of leader?

With MORI saying Labour is on 39% (+4%), the Tories on 36% (-1%) and the LDs 15% (-3%) the real question is which of Cameron and Campbell will be kicked out by their own party first.

There's lots of rumblings from the David Davis camp so it could be the former.

After all, Blair was able to get away with a radical reform of Labour because people were desperate to win and couldn't argue with a 20% poll lead. Slaughtering your ideological sacred cows for the glory of being the same 3% behind Labour that you were under Michael Howard doesn't quite have the same appeal.

DL Turnout

BBC Politics Show is saying turnout is 53% amongst members, only 9% amongst affiliates. Former should help Johnson, latter is probably good for Cruddas.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

All-time Labour Cabinet

OK the rules of this one are - you can only name people that actually were ever Labour Cabinet Ministers - and they are being judged at the height of their powers and with no reference to subsequent wanderings off to the SDP etc.:

Prime Minister: Tony Blair
Deputy Prime Minister: Clem Attlee
Chancellor: Gordon Brown
Home Secretary: David Blunkett
Foreign Secretary: Ernest Bevin
Education: Shirley Williams
Health: Nye Bevan
Transport: John Reid
Trade & Industry: Harold Wilson
Attorney General: Lord Goldsmith
Local Government: Stephen Byers
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster: Herbert Morrison
Chief Whip: Michael Cocks
Environment: Tony Crosland
Justice: Roy Jenkins
Work & Pensions: Hugh Gaitskell
Leader of the House of Commons: Michael Foot
DCMS: Chris Smith
Northern Ireland: Mo Mowlam
Leader of the Lords: George Brown
International Development: Barbara Castle
Defence: Denis Healey
Chief Secretary to the Treasury: Hugh Dalton
Scotland: Donald Dewar
Wales: Jim Callaghan
Minister without Portfolio: Peter Mandelson

Something sensible in Tribune

... for once. A really good article by thoughtful Wrexham MP Ian Lucas about why Brown should make more use of the PLP in policy development and as a policy sounding board - so that Labour MPs are consulted early in the policy process through the PLP Departmental Committees rather than presented with legislative faits acomplis. Better policies, fewer rebellions. Unfortunately Tribune has yet to fully enter the digital age so you'll have to buy a copy.

Fantasy Cabinet

Everyone else seems to be producing fantasy Brown cabinets, so here's my effort - apologies to anyone I've accidentally sacked:

Prime Minister: Gordon Brown
Deputy Prime Minister: Jack Straw
Chancellor: Ed Balls
Home Secretary: Hazel Blears
Foreign Secretary: Alan Johnson
Education: Jacqui Smith
Health: Caroline Flint
Transport: Douglas Alexander
Trade & Industry: Stephen Byers
Attorney General: Geoff Hoon
Local Government: Nick Raynsford
Housing: Jon Cruddas
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster: Margaret Beckett
Chief Whip: Tom Watson
Environment: David Miliband
Justice: John Denham
Work & Pensions: Yvette Cooper
Leader of the House of Commons: Alastair Darling
DCMS: Andy Burnham
Northern Ireland/Scotland: Des Browne
Leader of the Lords: Lord Kinnock
International Development: Hilary Benn
Defence: John Spellar
Chief Secretary to the Treasury: Ed Miliband
Wales: Jessica Morden

And as Party Chair is being abolished: Labour Party Vice-Chairs X4: Ian Austin, Baroness McDonagh, Frank Dobson, Ian McCartney

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The political spectrum

Interesting stats in a YouGov poll for C4 News earlier this week about where the public put themselves and the political parties on the left-right spectrum. The public as a whole say:

Very left-wing - 3%
Fairly left-wing - 11%
Slightly left-of-centre - 15%
Centre - 20%
Slightly right-of-centre - 13%
Fairly right-wing - 11%
Very right-wing - 4%
Don’t know - 22%

The 3 leftmost categories more or less equal Labour's rock-bottom core vote - 29%. The core 3 rightwing categories equal about the same - 28%. So you need to win over people who define themselves as centrist, or just don't know, to get anywhere near winning.

Current Labour voters consist of 7% very leftwing, 20% fairly leftwing, 26% slightly left of centre, 22% centre, 15% don't know, 8% slightly right-of-centre, 1% fairly rightwing and 1% very rightwing!

The myth that the Lib Dem vote is now generally to the left of Labour's is slain: only 1% of LD voters are very leftwing, only 7% fairly leftwing, 25% slightly left of centre, 31% centrist, 4% slightly right of centre, 3% fairly rightwing and 1% very rightwing. 23% don't know.

Women are slightly to the left of men but twice of many of them don't identify with any of the labels at all.

The under 34s have the largest number of people who don't know what they identify with of any of the age groups, but those who do have an opinion place themselves slightly to the left of their older counterparts. The over 55s are the most rightwing age group - bad news for Labour when we have an aging population and the old have by far the highest voter turnout.

The middle class ABC1s are more partisan than the working class C2DEs - they include more leftwingers and rightwingers whilst the working classes include more centrists and don't knows i.e. New Labour triangulation is probably more appealing to C2DEs than to the middle classes.

Scotland is overwhelming the region/nation where people see themselves as on the left - the north is the only other region where this is the case and then to a far lesser degree. The Midlands emerges as the most rightwing region! London, contrary to all the stuff about it being to the left of the rest of the country, has voters who (although the bell curve is spread further left) on average are positioned identically to the rest of the South - just to the right of centre.

Oh, and 65% of voters think Cameron is a lightweight politician.

Belated gratitude

Former Barnsbury Ward member T Blair may take some consolation as he leaves office that, having condemned him on various issues over the years, Islington South & Finsbury CLP's GC last night passed the following motion, with only 2 dissenting votes:

"This GC notes that Tony Blair will shortly resign as Prime Minister after 10 years in office. This GC believes that the last 10 years left Britain a wealthier, happier and healthier place. This GC applauds, in particular, the introduction of the national minimum wage and now the raising to £5.35, the virtual abolition of long term unemployment and the lowest unemployment rate of the major economics in Europe; the writing-off of Britain's third world debt and trebling of the overseas aid budget; free entry to museums and galleries; the three-fold increase in NHS spending and resultant 85,000 more nurses and 32,000 more doctors; the 30,000 more teachers; devolution to Scotland and Wales and a mayor and assembly for London; introduction of civil partnerships, equalisation of the age of consent and repeal of section 28. Each was only possible with a Labour Government, and was achieved in the face of Tory opposition. This GC therefore thanks Tony Blair for his leadership of the Party and wishes him well for the future."

Blair always said he would know he had succeeded when he persuaded the Labour Party to love Peter Mandelson. He hasn't quite got there with Peter, but persuading the Islington South GC to praise his own record - however late in the day - ain't bad.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Lib Dems

I'm instinctively queasy about this.

We've got quite enough talented Labour MPs to fill every position without co-opting our political enemies.

If more social democratic Lib Dems like Vince Cable (who started out as Labour Candidate for Glasgow Hillhead in the 1970 election and a Labour Special Adviser to John Smith at DTI) want to be Ministers they should defect back to the Labour Party.

I don't think the Lib Dems have much to offer intellectually in terms of input on constitutional issues - there's a kind of mythology that somehow they are experts on constitutional reform when in fact they have a pretty narrowly self-interested stance on PR and most of the interesting thinking on the constitution is coming from Labour people.

The weakness of Campbell as a leader actually gives us a chance to put the Lib Dems back in the box and erode their local government base. It will be very difficult to give the Lib Dems the electoral kicking they deserve for their opportunism at a local level if we are cosying up to them nationally.

I'd prefer a bit more tribalism from the new PM rather than less.

Tories and term-limits

Tories in the House of Lords have voted to limit the Mayor of London to two 4-year terms.

This strikes me as fundamentally undemocratic - it should be up to voters whether they want Ken to do 4, 8, 12 or 40 years in the job.

It's ironic that people who themselves have no democratic mandate are trying to limit voter choice like this.

And it's a bit of an admission that the Tories already concede they can't actually beat Ken in an election - so they're having to resort to constitutional fixes.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Good news from YouGov

Poor David Cameron. He is increasingly looking like he'll be not the Tories' Blair, but their Neil Kinnock.

Yesterday's YouGov poll - http://extras.timesonline.co.uk/results070615st.pdf which had Labour up one at 35%, the Tories down one at 37% and the Liberal Democrats down one at 14%, make satisfying reading if you plug the numbers into the "make your prediction" bit of http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/ - we are back in Labour majority territory.

This is without the further lift we should get from what promises to be a bold reshuffle, and any policy announcements Brown has up his sleeve over the next few months.

The poll says people want an early General Election.

I would dispute that there is any constitutional requirement for one, but if the numbers keep moving like this it might make a lot of sense for Labour to call the Tories' bluff and go to the country early, giving Brown a full-term mandate.

Same Old Tories

Still the nasty - and divided - party, find Populus.

Survey of MPs finds:

"Labour turns out to be more cohesive than the Tories. On every statement apart from one, 83 per cent or more of Labour MPs agree (the exception being whether Britain is a united country, where there is a 59 to 41 per cent split)."

"against the view of Mr Cameron, just 46 per cent of Tory MPs agree that gay couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples, with 54 per cent disagreeing. For comparison, 83 per cent of Labour MPs and 92 per cent of Lib Dems agree. "

"there is a 52 to 48 per cent split among Tories on whether “the diverse mix of races, cultures and religions now found in our society has improved Britain”. By contrast, 92 per cent of Labour MPs agree, as do all Lib Dems surveyed. And while Labour MPs are virtually unanimous (94 per cent) in agreeing that “one of the things that would most improve life in Britain today is people being more tolerant of different ethnic groups and cultures”, that is the view of only 67 per cent of Tory MPs."

"Roughly nine out of ten Labour and Lib Dem MPs agree that “if we were starting with a blank piece of paper and designing a health system for scratch, we would still create something very much like the NHS”, but only two fifths of Conservative members agree."

"Private schools appear as a sharp dividing line. More than four fifths of Labour MPs (85 per cent) believe “it would be better for the country if everyone who sends their children to private schools chose to send them to state schools instead”, a view backed by only 7 per cent of Tory MPs."

Félicitations aux camarades du PS

Congratulations to Labour's sister party in France, the PS, for gaining seats, completely against expectations, in yesterday's second round of the parliamentary elections, and wiping the smug smile of Sarko's face by ousting senior minister Alain Juppe from the National Assembly.

The PS and its allies won 185 seats, up from 149, whilst the centre-right UMP was down from 359 to 314. And Le Pen got precisely zero seats.

Full constituency results here: http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/elections/2007/circonscriptions/index.asp

UMP 314 (down from 359 in 2002)
Other right-wing parties 32 (up from 8)

Democratic Movement 3 (up from 0)

Socialists 185 (up from 149)

Communist party 15 (down from 21)

Green party 4 (up from 3)

Other left-wing parties 22 (up from 6)

Others 2

Total 577

I await a formal message of congratulations to the PS from the Labour Party. But I'm not holding my breath.

Friday, June 15, 2007


I'm trying to work out why Cruddas is bothering to concentrate his fire on Hazel.

I think he's rattled.

He's boxed himself into a position where he keeps saying things that will upset Gordon Brown, who is determined not to allow the Tories to portray him as tacking leftwards. It's probably not very clever to distance yourself so much on policy from a guy who has just become Leader by the most overwhelming parliamentary mandate in the Party's history, when you aspire to be his deputy.

Question Time

Belatedly, my reactions to last night's Question Time Deputy Leadership debate, large chunks of which I spent shouting at the TV scream or with my head buried in my hands.

Defining moments:

Hazel: the bit where she, alone of the candidates, paid recognition to the rest of the electorate listening to the debate and said it wasn't just about saying things (allegedly) popular with an internal party audience: "We won three elections because we are in tune with the British people, there are new challenges around housing, climate change, international terrorism, but if we move away from that combination of a strong economy and social justice, if we go into punitive taxes, if we start to slide back into the territory, then that is a real warning to us."

Alan: came across as very relaxed, funny and a nice guy: "Our focus in '97 was about taking the centre ground and about keeping that centre ground.
"The only traditions we broke with was Labour party losing elections, because that's what the Labour party did in the past.
"We did that by capturing the centre ground and shifting it to the left. Issues like international development, national minimum wage, work-life balance would have been considered left-wing issues - now they're mainstream issues.
"That's why Cameron wants to get onto our territory. That's why we mustn't move off of it"

Hain: the moment when he realised that invited to praise each other, none of the rest had mentioned him. I felt genuinely sorry for him. Also proved he is ignorant of Labour history by claiming every Deputy Leader has been Deputy PM - incorrect as George Brown's final 3 years as DL were as a backbencher. But he was a Liberal then so he probably didn't notice.

Benn: excellent answer to the idiot in the audience who suggested Iraq was more important than dealing with poverty. Managed to summarise why the Labour Party exists in his attack on inequality.

Harman: the master of unsubstantiated assertions: "I would make the best team with Gordon" ... er, why exactly?

Cruddas: suit purchased from surplus wardrobe of 1940s time-travel sitcom "Goodnight Sweetheart". Politics of a similar vintage. Not just lurching left but burning any remaining bridges with mainstream opinion in the party at a rapid pace. How exactly would we fight a General Election with a Deputy Leader opposed to Trident replacement? Answers on a postcard please to the Tory HQ Attack Unit, who must be preparing their "Cruddas and Brown disagreements dossier" and rubbing their hands with glee. Needs to stop rubbing his nose on national TV as well. Still seems like a clever, nice bloke though. Just a totally wrong clever, nice bloke. And all his best ideas (party reform, housing) have been picked up by Gordon anyway, so he doesn't need the job now.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hazel - supported by the Times; AJ - supported by the Mirror and Sun; Cruddas - supported by the Morning Star?

Hat-tip to Harry Barnes for spotting the unusual company Jon Cruddas is keeping this weekend.

Neither he nor his promised video address made it to the soft left Compass conference last weekend.

But he's found time out from the Deputy Leadership campaign this weekend to address the Morning Star's Conference. The Morning Star is a journal whose editorial policy is to support the platform of the Communist Party of Britain, a dwindling cadre of hard-core Leninists - some of them Stalinists - who rejected the EuroCommunism espoused by the official CPGB/Democratic Left.

Other speakers include from the Labour Hard Left Ken Livingstone, John McDonnell and Tony Benn, Salma Yaqoob of Respect, and a whole bunch of people such as Andrew Murray who are the CPB's cadres inside various unions and campaigns.

Imagine the outcry if another Deputy Leadership candidate was to speak at a conference, similarly entitled "Politics After Blair", if it was organised by, say, Lib Dem magazine The Liberator, or Conservative Party News. But apparently lending credibility to Britain's residual cell of hardline Stalinists and their newspaper is an appropriate way to spend the final Saturday of your Deputy Leadership campaign.

As Harry Barnes says:

"Does Jon really want us to believe that he is part of this camp? And will those attracted by the Conference really believe that he has become one of them?"

David Clark - wrong as usual

David Clark is part of the tag team of commentators in the Guardian - alongside Polly Toynbee and Neal Lawson - doing their best to make Labour unelectable, despite having worked in the '90s to help make it electable.

As usual today he is putting forward dangerous nonsense with an added sprinkling of sectarian bile about Hazel Blears.

His starting point is an understanding of where the British public is at politically that takes the single genuine case when the public was to the left of the Government - Iraq - and extrapolates from it to make the almost moronically deluded case that the "grassroots" (by which he presumably means people that whinge a lot at their GC, or join Compass) are more in touch with public opinion than Ministers are.

A) He must be canvassing a different planet to me, because - again with the genuine exception of Iraq - the attacks on Labour I hear from ordinary voters are based on a perception that we are obsessed with political correctness and not seriously enough tuned into dealing with their preoccupations about their tax burden, crime and anti-social behaviour and immigration. I have yet to ever meet a voter who wants a 50% higher rate of tax, or renationalisation of the railways, or any of the other "please vote for me for Deputy, I'm ever so radical really" election-losing policies floated in recent weeks.

B) If I hear one more person try to make "grassroots" a synonym for the left of the Party I will scream very, very loudly. Jon Cruddas and Harriet Harman do not own the grassroots of the Labour Party. They represent a legitimate strand of it, yes. But there is an equally legitimate strand of GC delegates, leafleters, canvassers, councillors who are not members of the whinging tendency, who do not want to apologise for 10 fantastic years of an excellent Labour Government, who are loyalists who would have did in a ditch defending Blair and now offer the same loyalty to Brown. We are the grassroots too. It is our Party too. Our votes have not been counted yet and when they are it may surprise a few people.

Anyway, I don't think much of David Clark or what he stands for. The fact that the Government actually paid him to advise the Foreign Secretary takes my breath away.

End of rant.

"The principled candidate deserves our support over the pack of panderers"

The Times editorial today is - almost - a perfect analysis of the Labour Deputy Leadership contest and a spot on recommendation to those people who haven't voted yet.

It marks Hazel Blears down as a winner from this process in terms of her status as a serious front rank politician who has put her principles first, even if she does not win this election.

I've said "almost" because I disagree with the Times' critique of the electoral college delivering "undue influence to trade unions" - in fact the electoral college delivers "due influence" to hundreds of thousands of ordinary Labour voters who happen to be trade unionists.

Here it is in full:

"Hazel Blears is the principled choice for the Labour deputy leadership
It has been said of sausages that it is best not to think too much about how they are made. The same is true for the post of deputy leader of the Labour Party. The contest has not been an edifying spectacle for several reasons. It is not obvious that the position is required at all. Even the candidates cannot agree on what they believe the portfolio will, in practice, be about. The victor will emerge via an electoral college which is complex and awards an undue influence to trade unions. David Cameron sought to embarrass Tony Blair about this at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday (although Mr Blair subsequently hit back at him with a ferocity that bordered on the feral).

Yet the ballot papers have been printed and a choice has to be made. Some of the candidates can be dismissed almost out of hand while others merit more substantial consideration. Peter Hain and Harriet Harman have spent the campaign wooing the trade union barons, distancing themselves from policies to which they have been bound by collective responsibility and courting the most unreconstructed parts of the electorate. Labour would take a large step backwards if it rewarded this behaviour by embracing them. Jon Cruddas has proved to be a more rounded character than these politicians and run an imaginative campaign but has again been unwilling to tell public sector trade unions the hard truths.

Three rational runners are thus left in this race. The soft choice for Labour would be Hilary Benn, the International Development Secretary. He is the front-runner according to most assessments. He has acquired that advantage for reasons which are not impressive. His surname is an asset to him due to the surreal development that his father has morphed in the past 25 years from national terror to national treasure. That he almost destroyed the Labour Party has been forgotten. Mr Benn II is the more moderate but being amiable and unobjectionable are not virtues of such a magnitude that they qualify a man to be deputy leader of a party. Labour would not do itself any harm by selecting Mr Benn but it would not do itself that much good either.

A more interesting choice would be Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary. He is an engaging individual with an astute reading of politics. He has not appeased the unions in the course of the hustings, perhaps because as an ex-trade union leader himself he appreciates the futility of that strategy. In terms of personality and style he would be an effective counterbalance to Gordon Brown and that would benefit both of them.

Mr Johnson can, though, bounce about the political spectrum according to issue and, it seems, the day of the week. To describe him as a “Blairite” would be inaccurate. The principled choice is not Mr Johnson but Hazel Blears, the Labour Party chairman. She has been consistent and candid in the course of the past few weeks and has defended the Prime Minister on matters where the Labour Party is, mistakenly, too suspicious of him. Were she to win it would send the most forceful signal that new Labour will survive the transition from Mr Blair to Mr Brown. It is in the interests of the incoming Prime Minister that this message does come across loud and clear.

Yet if the bookmakers are correct that will certainly not happen. But no matter how many or how few votes she secures, Ms Blears should be at the top table of a Brown government. Those who back her should offer their second preferences to Mr Johnson. The principled candidate deserves our support over the pack of panderers."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Think before you blog

The danger with blogging is that it enables and encourages you to publish your thoughts in a very immediate and instantaneous way.

And what feels the right reaction can after only a little bit of hindsight look crass or embarrassing.

Kerron Cross fell foul of this yesterday with a fairly predictable jokey post about the building housing Hazel Blears' campaign collapsing.

This looked a lot less funny after a few hours when it became clear that some poor construction worker was trapped in the rubble. The fire service couldn't get him out until 1.30am - some 9 plus hours after the accident. He's still in hospital this morning.

Moral to Cllr Cross - and indeed all of us who blog - pause for a moment before joking about what could be a serious incident - and if determined to proceed, have the sense to go back online regularly and delete or amend your post if new information suggests it's in poor taste.

Monday, June 11, 2007

One Diane is quite enough

I'm a big supporter of having a more diverse PLP, and particularly of improving on the current derisory number of BME women MPs.

However, I'm not sure that Jackie Ashley's call for Parliament to have more Diane Abbotts will aid the cause of BME women's representation.

Diane has a unique set of qualities as a politician - but they are her personal qualities, not ones that apply to every BME woman.

We need ethnic minority women MPs from all wings of the Labour Party, rebels and loyalists, media stars and conscientious constituency campaigners, loud and quiet. We particularly need BME women MPs with an approach to politics that, in contrast to Diane's self-created role as the perpetual outsider and oppositionalist, will see them become Whips and Ministers and involved in creating policy, not protesting about it.

To her credit, Diane is actually pretty supportive of BME candidates who don't share her style or politics - she backed David Lammy who was obviously the New Labour candidate in the Tottenham by-election selection because she wanted to see a bright young Afro-Caribbean man get into Parliament even if he didn't share her politics - though she doesn't extend this to Trevor Phillips who she had a go at at our GC when he came up for reselection to the GLA a few years back.

There are quite a few excellent BME women trying to get selected this time round - people like Dora Dixon-Fyle from Southwark, Sonika Nirwal from Ealing, and Nargis Khan from my own borough. I think they'd all be a bit put out by Jackie Ashley trying to define them as extra Diane Abbotts. Diane Abbott might not be too happy either.

"Not the candidate the party leader actually wanted"

Full marks for persistence to Steve Norris who has yet again put himself forward to be Tory Candidate for Mayor of London.

This latest effort is more than slightly undermined by his own comment less than two months ago (after David Cameron's botched attempt to get a joint candidacy with the Lib Dems in the shape of Greg Dyke):

"The unfortunate reality for whoever the Tories choose is that Ken will also know they are not the candidate the party leader actually wanted."

Note "for whoever the Tories choose", which obviously includes him - as he must have known when he wrote it.

Norris has already set out his vision for London over the last two elections and it would have been a disaster - abolition of the congestion charge; cuts to the bus subsidy; less investment in public transport; no extra resources for the Metropolitan Police Authority.

His opposition to the congestion charge shows his unwillingness to take tough decisions - and it means that if he was elected there would be no move to emissions charging for the zone, meaning no action against the gas guzzlers and 4x4s clogging up central London (showing the sharp difference between Cameron's "green" rhetoric and the reality of the Tory party in London - we've had similar locally in Hackney with obsessive defence of car use from opposition to controlled parking to trying to stop a 20mph zone around a school).

Brown on Party Reform

Good stuff from Brown yesterday on Party reform.

A word of caution though - whilst the proposals for "establishing policy forums in every constituency, as well as regular questionnaires to members, and "citizens' forums" designed to improve Labour's campaigning edge and engage local people outside the party" are the right way forward for CLPs that are already doing the basics, in too many areas - particularly those where Labour is either in a very safe position or in a weak third place - our organisation has atrophied to a level where the basics of party organisation are not taking place.

We need some base line targets to bring every CLP up to a minimum level of activity so that we remain a truly national party:

- every CLP to send a delegate to Annual Conference (at the moment only about 2/3 do)
- every CLP to have regular political debate, campaigning and social events, even if this happens in a cluster with neighbouring seats - I've heard anecdotally of some CLPs that only meet once annually to elect a Secretary, or quadrenially to select a paper general election candidate
- every seat in every election at district council and above to have a candidate - no more situations like this May when over 30% of council seats had no Labour candidate
- target minimum membership levels based on a % of the Labour General Election vote

this kind of capacity building requires organisational muscle - more full-time organisers - but if we can't fund those then perhaps between General Elections we need to do the pay back for the Key Seats strategy - after all the times that Key Seats have been given support by safe or non-Labour seats, between General Elections this should happen in reverse, with a systematic effort by Labour MPs and key seat activists who have had support to go back into areas where the party structure is less healthy and help re-energise it.

Putney Selection

Congratulations to Amicus National Political Committee member, and former Wandsworth Labour Group Leader, Stuart King, on his selection as Labour's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Putney yesterday.

The fact that we are picking such strong candidates for seats narrowly lost in 2005 is excellent as it means we can take the battlefield for the next General Election into Tory held territory and look for gains, as well as just defending Labour marginals.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Ballot papers

Good to see that Amicus, as well as inserting a call to vote Cruddas with their ballot papers, has put in a party membership form and the nominations booklet with statements from all the 6 candidates, so every one has had some chance to communicate with members of the union. This is a big improvement from my memory of 1994 as a TGWU member when I think we just got a letter of instruction on who to vote for from Bill Morris, and no material about the non-TGWU nominated candidates - maybe this is a false memory but I don't remember getting the nominations booklet with my union ballot that time.

TGWU have done the same as Amicus this time, though their pro-Cruddas leaflet features the same picture of Jon as Amicus', but carefully trimmed down the left hand margin so you can't see that he was actually having his pic taken with Derek Simpson - shades of Soviet era air-brushings out.

The Fabians have gone one better and sent a nice little book of essays -http://fabians.org.uk/publications/book/deputies-choice-07/ - with the ballot paper, though it does have some rather unflattering cartoons of the candidates.

Anyone know what material other unions and affiliates have sent with the ballots?

I was trying to think of a pun about compasses but couldn't

Ever one to engage in dialogue with the left and/or a glutton for punishment I trekked to Westminster Central Hall today for the Compass Conference at the invitation of CND, whose opponent of choice in debates I seem to have become.

I arrived in time to catch the end of Ken Livingstone's plenary speech - the bit I heard was eminently sensible stuff about tackling climate change through city-level measures.

The CND fringe was supposed to be about future opportunities for disarmament and fulfilling our Non Proliferation Treaty obligations, but I guess inevitably got dragged back onto the recent Trident replacement decision. My opponent was Jon Trickett MP, Chair of the Compass Group of MPs. He seems to be calling for another vote on Trident as early as 2 years' time - i.e. between the concept and design phases - can't see Gordon being up for that in what could be a General Election year, somehow. Rather than keep trying to reopen a vote they lost, I don't understand why Trickett & co don't use their energy to push Ministers to be more proactive in kick-starting multilateral disarmament talks, or leading efforts to get nuclear free regions in places where there is a danger of conflict such as South Asia and the Middle East - which would be policies that would not only be more likely to be adopted by the Government, they would be likely to have a bigger impact on global disarmament than unilateral non-replacement of Trident.

I bumped into and had a friendly welcome from Compass Chair Neal Lawson, which was kind of him given that I'm not a fan of his current political project, and also saw Francis Prideaux of CLPD and fellow Labour bloggers Tom of http://newerlabour.blogspot.com/ and Peter Kenyon (http://petergkenyon.typepad.com/peterkenyon/). There were even a few people who I hadn't seen since LCC days who may have thought I was there as a Compassite ...

I didn't stay for the video address from Cruddas, but if Neal wants me back next year for a broader debate on Party matters, I might well accept the invitation ...

Friday, June 08, 2007

Why Cruddas is still getting a transfer from me

I've repeatedly said over the last 6 months that I would put Cruddas 4th.

In recent weeks he's done his best to lose my 4th place transfer with his policy pronouncements. I was tempted to only vote 1 to 3 and give no ranking to Hain, Harman or Cruddas.

But now that the ballot papers are here I have decided to stick with Plan A and put him 4th.


- Primarily because a comrade yesterday reminded me that back in the mid-90s when the Labour Group in Hackney split (literally - 17 councillors defected), Cruddas was instrumental in getting union members on the NEC like Vernon Hince and Brenda Etchells to intervene on the side of the forces of light. That was critical to my borough getting back on its feet and being won back for Labour. I want to see more of that kind of Jon Cruddas. Can we have him back?


- because my union is backing him and that counts for something with me
- because of Tom's involvement in his campaign, which reassures me
- because the campaigning stuff is good and someone talking left but doing the campaigning slog is better than someone just talking left

He could have got my 3rd preference if he'd toned down the policy stuff, but there you go.

Unintended endorsements

Former MP Harry Barnes is on good form over at http://threescoreyearsandten.blogspot.com/

Perhaps unsurprisingly he's 6th placed Hazel. But the reason he gives sounds like an endorsement from where I'm sat:

"Last Of Them All - Hazel Blears
She is the most Blairite of the candidates and willingly grabbed the appointed Party Chairmanship when it was offered to her. She is a loyalist to the hilt. More dangerous still, she is an able loyalist. Give her a script and she will ram it down your throat. "

Exactly why I'm putting her first of them all.

SDPers for Harman

Anyone not sure who to put 6th on their Deputy Leader ballot has been given a pretty clear steer today. The ghastly Polly Toynbee has put the line out for Harman.

This is a little ironic as the then Bennite Harman would have been one of the reasons that Toynbee defected to the SDP in the early '80s.

Cosily, they almost became South London parliamentary neighbours when Harriet ran for Labour in Peckham in 1983 at the same General Election that her now cheerleader Polly was running against Labour and helping the Tories gain the seat in Lewisham East for the SDP.

Actually the two are flip sides of the same coin - chattering classes flip-flopers who say whatever won't offend the folks sat next to them at an Islington dinner party - the trajectories are different - Harman's was Hard Left to Kinnockite to New Labour and now back to Soft Left whereas Toynbee's was SDPer to New Labour to Soft Left - but they've ended up in the same place.

But what exactly qualifies a traitor who did their best to destroy Labour in the '80s by being involved in setting up the SDP to offer commentary on who should be Labour's next Deputy Leader, or gives them any expectation that people will do anything other than the opposite of what they recommend?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

"You're not telling me that we'll win those seats with a 50p tax rate, an amnesty on illegal migration and a return to secondary picketing."

Hazel Blears tells the Party to wake up and smell the coffee.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Er... no

Peter Kenyon is rather strangely speculating whether Mirror journo Kevin Maguire is "a stalking horse for the last of the Blairites who have been trying to wreck the TU link?"

I think Maguire could probably sue over that line (if it didn't have a question mark at the end of it) as he is probably one of the most prominent and vocal press supporters of trade unionism and the union link - and fairly publicly a Brownite.

If anything I think Maguire's article was hinting that MPs shouldn't have 1/3 of the electoral college vote.

Peter needs to get his head round the fact that enthusiastic support for the union link isn't confined to the fringe leftwing circles he moves in - it's mainstream opinion and one of the things that unites all the deputy leadership campaigns.

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.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Well done the Socialist Campaign Group

... unexpected headline of the day. Well done to them for the questionnaire on their website asking Deputy Leadership candidates some key questions: http://www.poptel.org.uk/scgn/

One of the 6 didn't send any answers.

Harriet and IT

The IT problems at Team Harman are going from bad to worse.

I'm lucky I've got a switched-on postman as the direct mail I got from her in London had no commas in the addresses, so Flat 1, 8 Beatty Road, became Flat 18 Beatty Road.

People that have contacted me from both Surrey and Hampshire say their mailshots from Harman had even worse address glitches: every single one had the had the wrong name for the address. A friend in that part of the world says "It looks as if on her list, the names had got out of step with the addresses, so that for our group at least, we all had what seems to be the next name on the list but our own address."

And she's compounded the earlier email problems with a follow-up spam email to councillors, repeating exactly the same text that we had all already read, but with no graphics and blind copied, saying plaintively "The message below was sent in error. Please delete all. We apologise sincerely for this technical error and are re-sending Harriet's message."

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.

Monday, June 04, 2007

GMB backs Hain

The Deputy Leadership just got even more difficult to call, as Peter Hain, who had been viewed as running at the back of the field, tonight picked up the endorsement of the GMB, one of the largest affiliates, who will now encourage their members to vote for him.

New Members

As a CLP Membership Secretary I've just had a membership report for May which gives a snapshot of the impact of Brown's uncontested election as Leader.

My CLP had one resignation (not from an active member) and 11 new members (joiners or re-joiners from lapsed as opposed to transfers in from another CLP). Replicated nationwide (as we are a largish CLP of 550 members) my guess is Labour has gained 4,000 new members during May, and had maybe 350 resignations.

Parking's fine

Sorry to disappoint readers searching for Deputy Leadership info, but for the benefit of any Chatham Ward residents the good news is that Hackney Council's Cabinet tonight agreed to proceed to consultation on the details of a new CPZ (Controlled Parking Zone) for the area immediately around Homerton Hospital, after a two year campaign by residents and ward councillors to get the parking chaos in the area under control.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

BCC and its uses

Congratulations to the web team at the Harriet Harman campaign, who forgot to use the Blind Copy function when emailing every Labour Councillor in the UK that they had an address for. This enabled Cllr Linda Smith of the London Borough of Hackney to hit reply all and send several thousand people this message (I'm not the only person in my household who's nuts about Hazel):

"Dear fellow Labour councillors

As Harriet Harman's campaign seem to be unaware of the blind copy function and have allowed us to communicate with each other in this way, I am writing to urge you to cast your first preference vote in the deputy leadership election for Hazel Blears and to use your second preference vote for Alan Johnson.

I believe that both these candidates have acted in a principled way during this campaign and have not postured to the left or tried to distance themselves from the government that they have been part of and that has won us three general elections.

They understand that the policies which will appeal to the broad electoral coalition needed to win a fourth term Labour Government are not necessarily those that are called for in the letters page of the Guardian and around the dinner party tables of the chattering classes.

I am particularly supporting Hazel because she is an excellent campaigner who has a real commitment to rejuvenating our party from the grass roots up. We need a Deputy Leader who you can imagine rallying our activists from the steps of the campaign battle bus, a Deputy Leader who is proud to shout about our achievements, not someone who's election strategy is to apologise for the Labour government they were part of.

Yours sincerely,
Cllr Linda Smith
London Borough of Hackney"

My answers

I was one of the people who responded to the YouGov poll. These were my answers on the policy questions:

Here are some things that different people are urging Gordon Brown to do when he becomes Prime Minister. In each case, please say whether you would support or oppose it:

Publicly distance Britain from President George W Bush’s policies in the Middle East
68% of members support. Akehurst opposes.

Increase the top rate of taxation to 50% for people earning more than £100,000 a year
66 % of members support. Akehurst in favour in principle but not prepared to do it if it will lose us the next election, which he thinks it probably would.

Give local councils more powers to vary their policy on rubbish collections, including penalising households who throw out the most rubbish, and rewarding households that do more recycling
63 % of party members in favour. Me too.

Slow down, and fundamentally rethink, the strategy for ‘Blairite’ reforms of health, education and other public services
58 % of members in favour. Ditto, I'm not convinced about the "choice" agenda.

Bring Britain’s railways back into public ownership, even if this means increasing taxes to pay for it
58% of members in favour. I really don't care who owns the trains as long as they are safe and run on time. If someone can convince me the state can do a better job that it did last time under BR, I'm not instinctively hostile.

Increase taxes on motoring and flying, and use the money to reduce fares on buses, trains and the underground.
57 % of members in favour, including this one.

Extend the period that terrorist suspects can be held without being charged from 28 days to 90 days.
55% of members in favour, including this one.

Withdraw Britain’s troops from Iraq as soon as possible, regardless of what Iraq’s government wants
48% of members in favour, Akehurst opposed and wonders what sort of socialist ignores a democratic foreign government's request to help stop suicide bombers and civil war.

Approve the building of more nuclear power stations in Britain
47% of members in favour, including this one, as I would like to have electricity in my retirement.

Change the current system for allocating social housing, so that British-born people are given higher priority than today, and immigrant families a lower priority
47% of members in favour. Not this one, who is shocked by this level of support for such an unpleasant, discriminatory policy.

Scrap the Government’s plans to introduce Identity Cards
47% of members in favour but not this one.

Give the trade unions more influence over the Government’s policies
Only 40% of members in favour but assuming that this means more influence over specifically union issues industrial strategy and employment rights then I'm one of 40%.

Keep the Government’s commitment to replace Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system in due course with a new nuclear weapons system
37% of members in favour, including this one but I think most people know that already.

Introduce a bill to abolish England’s remaining grammar schools, regardless of what the local education authority wants
34% of members in favour, including this one, assuming "abolish" means make them into comprehensive entry schools, as I find selection at 11 morally abhorrent.

OK, on the basis of those views, who should I really be voting for?

More about the YouGov poll

I've now added links to the full datasets in the post below.

My instincts that the union data may be a bit flaky are confirmed by the sample sizes: 583 men versus 250 women (so are unions like UNISON and USDAW with large numbers of women members properly represented?) and 441 ABC1 social classes versus 392 C2DE - so this was basically a poll tilted towards white collar trade unionists, as you would expect from an internet poll - lots of folks from the ex-MSF bits of Amicus, the ACTS section of TGWU, and the APEX bit of GMB will have completed it - but how many nurses, bus drivers, dinner ladies or shop assistants?

My hunch is that incredible number of GMB NULO Branch and TGWU Parliamentary Staff Branch members took part in this poll!

Figures for "undecideds" are:

Party members - 18% still undecided - with a further 26% open to switching who they back (particularly Hain and Harman supporters)
TU members - 22% still undecided - with a further 23% open to switching who they back (again, particularly Hain and Harman supporters)

so there is still a huge potential for churn and change between now and the final outcome.

On the social class breakdown there are some interesting policy differences:

Middle class Labour members: anti-Trident, narrowly pro-Iraq withdrawal, pro-nuclear power, anti-80 day detention, anti-TU influence on govt, against the Hodge proposals on housing allocations.

Working class Labour members: pro-Trident, heavily pro-Iraq withdrawal, pro-nuclear power, pro-80 day detention, pro-TU influence on govt, less pro-tax increases than their middle class counterparts, less anti-grammar school than their middle class counterparts, in favour of the Hodge proposals on housing allocations, less pro-green taxes than their middle class counterparts, less hostile to Bush foreign policy.

Can the leading candidates get their vote out?

Buried somewhere in the YouGov data, and reported on Politicalbetting.com, was this certainty to vote question:

Q How likely are you to vote in the election for Labour’s deputy leader:

Cruddas supporters 74%
Blears supporters 69%
Benn supporters 58%
Johnson supporters 56%
Hain supporters 40%
Harman supporters 35%

which fits with what happened at my GC - the Benn, Johnson and Harman supporters I knew of either didn't turn up or didn't nominate their candidates.

Cruddas backer Henry G comments on politicalbetting.com:

"If you multiply the first preference result with the certainty to vote figure you get a ‘guaranteed vote’ for candidates before others make up their minds. It changes the picture a little:
Benn 13.9%, Johnson 13.4%, Cruddas 10.3%, Blears 6.9%, Harman6.3% and Hain 5.6%. "


I've now found the full datasets -

and discovered that the numbers I quoted above relate to the certainty to vote of TU members.

Amongst Party members the certainty to vote is:

Cruddas supporters 79%
Johnson supporters 71%
Benn supporters 70%
Blears supporters 64%
Hain supporters 61%
Harman supporters 51%

so actually it's more a story about low turnout of Harman supporters in both sections.

YouGov's sample is dodgy

Interesting poll in the Sunday Times:


Taking off my Blears partisan hat for a minute and taking a strategic view of the interests of the moderate wing of the Party in total, Alan Johnson moving into the predicted winner position is welcome news as he's the candidate closest to the one I'm supporting ideologically.

The 3 most moderate candidates - Johnson, Blears and Benn - have 57% support amongst members between them, and the 3 that have talked most left - Harman, Cruddas and Hain - 42%.

And only 18% of members would have voted for McDonnell if he'd got on the ballot.

I'm mildly bemused by the poll finding movement towards AJ as in both MP and CLP nominations he underperformed relative to expectations, and in canvassing I've done he's been losing support to Hazel.

I'd also like to see the figures for undecideds - all the canvassing experience I've heard is that the vast majority of members remain undecided.

Before everyone reads too much into the poll, I'd challenge the accuracy of their sample in the TU section. My hunch is that it is biased towards activists - who are likely to be more leftwing - because they are more likely to be internet users and to have signed up to the YouGov panel. Their sample would also be intrinsically biased towards white collar trade union members who have internet access at work and may not be politically representative of their blue collar colleagues.

My evidence for this - they say:

"YouGov questioned 1,676 people able to vote in Labour's leadership election. These comprised 1,097 members of the Labour Party and 833 members of trade unions who pay the political levy. 254 respondents belonged to both groups, and will be able to vote in both sections."

They've got about the right number of affiliated trade union members in their Party membership sample - 23% - I've checked a couple of CLPs and this is about bang on, but that implies that there are only about 40,000 Party members nationally who are also TU levy payers. This equals about 1% of the total number of TU levy payers in the country - 4.4m - maybe 2% of those in Labour-affiliated unions - yet YouGov's sample has an absurd 30.5% of its trade unionists also being Party members! If only this was the case - Labour would have 800,000 members, and 640,000 of them would be trade union members , if it was.

According to the 2005 British Election Study, only 45.7 % of current trade union members voted Labour in the 2005 General Election, 22.1 % Liberal Democrat and 19 % Conservative - so why would the union section of the electoral college produce results to the left of Labour Party Members and MPs?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Nominations regional analysis

Some figures for the regional breakdown of nominations for Deputy Leadership candidates (and % of CLPs that nominated):

London – Cruddas 19, Benn 14, Harman 8, Johnson 5, Blears 2, Hain 2 (68% of CLPs nominated)
South East – Benn 14, Harman 9, Cruddas 8, Blears 4, Johnson 1, Hain 1 (50% of CLPs nominated)
South West – Harman 9, Johnson 5, Benn 4, Cruddas 4, Blears 1, Hain 1 (45% of CLPs nominated)
East – Cruddas 8, Benn 7, Harman 5, Johnson 2, Blears 0, Hain 0 (37% of CLPs nominated)
East Midlands – Benn 6, Cruddas 3, Harman 3, Johnson 3, Blears 2, Hain 1 (40% of CLPs nominated)
West Midlands – Benn 6, Blears 6, Harman 6, Cruddas 4, Johnson 4, Hain 2 (47% of CLPs nominated)
North West – Blears 14, Benn 9, Cruddas 6, Johnson 4, Hain 4, Harman 1 (55% of CLPs nominated)
Yorkshire – Johnson 13, Benn 6, Cruddas 5, Harman 4, Blears 2, Hain 0 (55% of CLPs nominated)
North – Johnson 5, Harman 4, Benn 3, Blears 2, Cruddas 1, Hain 0 (43% of CLPs nominated)
Wales – Hain 10, Cruddas 5, Harman 4, Benn 1, Blears 0, Johnson 0 (50% of CLPs nominated)
Scotland – Benn 7, Harman 7, Cruddas 5, Blears 3, Johnson 3, Hain 2 (46% of CLPs nominated)

Very geographically polarised support.

Everyone managed to come top in at least one region. Everyone except Hain came 1st/joint 1st in at least 2 regions.

Regions where no one had a “home base” were very evenly split, with no clear favourite emerging.

Patterns of support are as much to do with geography as left and right:

36% of Benn’s support was from London & SE CLPs, with a big cluster in the bits of both regions near to Ealing where he used to be a councillor. Surprisingly weak in Yorkshire where he’s an MP.

40% of Cruddas’ support was from London and the Eastern region counties that neighbour the part of London where he is an MP.

52% of Harman’s support was from the 4 southernmost regions, though she didn’t perform as well as Benn and Cruddas in London, despite being a London MP.

41% of Johnson’s support was from Yorkshire where he is an MP, and the neighbouring Northern region. He didn’t pull in many nominations in either London or the North West, the 2 largest regions by membership.

39% of Blears’ support was from the North West.

43% of Hain’s support was from Wales.

Levels of participation also very variable: from 68% of CLPs nominating in London, down to 37% in the East of England.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Lib Dems fall out

The Lib Dems (remember them?) are having a little row over London candidate selection, having picked a GLA slate that ain't exactly representative of the capital's diverse population:


Deputy Nominations

Final nominations by CLPs:

Hilary Benn - 77
Jon Cruddas - 68
Harriet Harman - 60
Alan Johnson - 44
Hazel Blears - 36
Peter Hain - 23

so everyone except possibly Hain still in play. More than half (321) did not nominate.

Union nominations by size of affiliation:
Amicus 630,100 - Cruddas
UNISON 500,000 - Johnson
GMB 400,000 - no nomination
TGWU 400,000 - Cruddas
USDAW 323,652 - Blears
CWU 210,000 - Johnson
Community 55,246 - no nomination
UCATT 51,000 - Hain
TSSA 27,653 - Hain
ASLEF 15,500 - Hain
MU 10,500 - no nomination
BECTU 7,310 - no nomination
BFAWU 5,100 - Hain
NUM 1,813 - Hain
Unity 1,000 - Benn
NACODS 410 - no nomination

Total support by size of affiliation:
Cruddas - 1,030,100
Johnson - 710,000
Blears - 323, 652
Hain - 101,066
Benn - 1,000
Harman - nil

CLPs back PLP line on Brown

CLP nominations have closed. Brown got - and my counting may be a bit inaccurate as there were so many - 402.

That compares with the last leadership election in 1994 when the winner, Blair, got just 58 nominations, Prescott got 39 and Beckett 12.

So Brown got almost 4 times as many nominations as all the 1994 candidates put together.

These were not nominations by default either - the hard left fought tooth & nail at GC after GC to deny nominations to Brown.

It shows active members are very much of the same opinion as the PLP about who they want as Leader.

And it shows a level of engagement in the election process that is far higher than 13 years ago - surely a sign of health in terms of the Party's grassroots.

In the union section, Brown has the nomination from every trade union big enough to be represented on Labour's NEC.

Who's backing Cruddas?

Well at my GC last night the speeches in favour of Jon came from:

this MP: http://www.dianeabbott.org.uk/, who is a prominent member of this organisation: http://www.poptel.org.uk/scgn/

a member of the editorial board of this magazine: http://www.labourleftbriefing.org.uk/

supporters of this organisation: http://home.freeuk.com/clpd/ and maybe this one: http://www.socialistaction.org.uk/ (though it's a bit secretive about whether it actually exists)

a comrade who helps write this blog: http://labourleftforum.blogspot.com/

and one who contributes to this website: http://www.workersliberty.org.uk/

I'm sure I'll be accused of sectarianism (unlike one of the above who used 95% of their 3 minute GC speech to attack another candidate in highly personalised terms) but either these comrades are muppets who have been conned into backing Cruddas and will get nothing in return, or they are expecting him to deliver part of their agenda. You can read their websites to check out what their agenda is. Of course, he can't vet his supporters, but one has to ask what's really going on.

Labour in Northern Ireland

I'm troubled by Alan Johnson saying Labour will run candidates in Northern Ireland.

How does this square with our solidarity with and commitments to our sister party, the SDLP? Surely it is not comradely to run against a fellow member party of the Socialist International and Party of European Socialists?

Why couldn't we do a deal to run joint SDLP and Labour (maybe joint with the Irish Labour Party too) candidates, rather than splitting what little centre-left vote there is in the North?

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