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, February 20, 2009

Well said, Hazel

At least someone in the Cabinet - Hazel Blears - is focused on winning the General Election, not maneuvering for their post-election career.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What were the press doing in a Salford CLP meeting, or getting a transcript of it? Sounds like a cunning double bluff to me. Dunno why, I'm not cunning enough. It's all paper-sales bollox, most likely.

9:22 am, February 20, 2009

Blogger Matthew Cain said...

You may have some valid points re Harriet Harman but Luke - the deputy leadership election is over and your candidate lost!

9:27 am, February 20, 2009

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

And more is the shame given the subsequent behaviour of the two people concerned.

9:35 am, February 20, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Hazel should stop doing the Tories' job for them by talking up rumours of splits.

You know as well as anyone when we're so low in the polls, anybody expressing a remotely independent thought will be accused of plotting a leadership bid.

10:18 am, February 20, 2009

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I made the point in an earlier post that Cabinet Ministers are required under the doctrine of collective responsibility NOT to express independent thoughts.

If any of them want to do so they should resign and make their views clear from the backbenches like Mr Cruddas does.

The precedent of George Brown shows the Deputy Leader does not have to be in the Cabinet.

10:26 am, February 20, 2009

Blogger Merseymike said...

Sorry, Luke, but this sort of thing is exactly why people have become so cynical about politics. The public prefer independent minded politicians with a bit of personality - that's why Ken Clarke has always been popular. They don't like machine-politician automatons, and Hazel Blears comes over in exactly that way.

Collective responsibility is basically the acceptable way of saying 'pretending to think something when you don't'. It is part of the problem, not the solution.

10:36 am, February 20, 2009

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

It is one of the central conventions of the British system of government. How could you run a government where one minister could publicly criticise another minister's decisions?

10:52 am, February 20, 2009

Blogger Hughes Views said...

His curiously diverse fan club (lots of whose members seem to have joined solely on the “my enemy’s enemies are my pals” basis) might care to take note that Ken Clarke has again embraced the doctrine of collective responsibility just to get back into the shadow cabinet.

He's agreed to keep very quiet about Europe (a shame perhaps because, on this topic if no other, he's quite sound)...

11:00 am, February 20, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I assume this means you've now started working on Hazel's own leadership campaign...

11:06 am, February 20, 2009

Blogger Duncan Hall said...

Were I especially bothered about the briefings of Blairites and Brownites, I would be tempted to question whether Ms Blears is being a tad disingenuous here.

After all, a quick read of a few of these new 'leadership speculatoin' stories would tend to suggest that the issue is pointless and divisive briefings against Harriet Harman rather than by her or in support of her. After all, her alleged outspoken rant about city bonuses took place in a Cabinet meeting. The fact that 'some colleagues' thought this was an attempt to woo left-wingers ahead of a leadership election is quite bizarre; we wouldn't have known about the 'rant' were it not for those 'some colleagues'. You could hardly expect people close to Harman when asked about it to say, 'actually Harriet has no discernible independent views on city bonuses' or 'your cabinet sources are lying, she didn't say anything at all'; indeed - as there was something of a combined cabinet war of words against bonuses (combined with little or no action) it would be odd to deny it anyway.

It seems to me that it is enemies of Ms. Harman who are undermining the institution of the Cabinet.

If one cares about such things.

11:10 am, February 20, 2009

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Yes I would expect them to say "Harriet supports the Government's position on this issue".

11:18 am, February 20, 2009

Blogger Duncan Hall said...

Furthermore, Luke, you write:

"Cabinet Ministers are required under the doctrine of collective responsibility NOT to express independent thoughts"

This really is taking the doctrine a little far! Sometime in the late '70s, the perfectly sensible principle of collective responsibility seems to have been transformed into some pseudo-Leninist absurdity. The idea that Ken Clarke can't talk about Europe is palpable nonsense. The doctrine forbids him saying 'I disagree with policy x' or 'I was the only person arguing for policy y' without resigning from the Shadow Cabinet, but there isn't the slightest reason why he couldn't continue to speak at pro-European conferences, etc.

(I might add that Harriet's alleged 'outburst' took place in a Cabinet meeting; even your rather extreme interpretation of the doctrine forbids people from speaking their mind in Cabinet!!)

(I might add that, unlike Harriet, Hazel was speaking in public - alleging that Cabinet colleagues were engaged in leadership plotting - which seems to be approaching a more serious breach of the doctrine of collective responsibility.)

11:21 am, February 20, 2009

Blogger Duncan Hall said...

Okay - imagine you're being contacted by a journalist:

'Luke, you're a close ally of Hazel Blears. I understand she was very critical of some of Harriet Harman's recent work on the Equality Bill during a recent meeting.

You: 'Hazel agrees with the government position on this.'

Journalist: 'So why did she say "x, y and z"'

You: "I don't know if she said..."

Journalist: "Well a Cabinet minister who was there has told me that she said '...' Was she lying? Why?"


11:26 am, February 20, 2009

Blogger Martin Meenagh said...

Collective responsibility is the constitutional convention that, once a policy is decided, ministers must uphold it.

It is not the idea that they must all think, talk, or walk the same. That is a media inspired fiction of use to hacks. If you think back to ID cards, for instance, Pat Hewitt made the point I'm making, as has Charles Clarke, though too few understand it these days.

Cabinet members should not leave their brains at the door when they leave--if they have any.

This is a government in a tailspin with a bunch of dyed-blue Blairites on the other benches waiting to take over. When even Blears realises this, the game is up.

12:17 pm, February 20, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blears clearly has her own ambitions and agenda, and is the sort of loyalist that could comfortably sit in any government, including a Tory one.

1:46 pm, February 20, 2009

Blogger colonel_hackney said...

Collective responsibility is collective responsibility for cabinet decisions. It means that once a decision has been made in cabinet then all members of that cabinet support it in public whether they agree or not.
In respect of matters not already decided in cabinet or matters pertaining to the governance of the ruling party, it has no application.
I think the confusion arises because some blur the distinction between what is in the interests of the country with what is in the interests of the Labour party.

2:07 pm, February 20, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harpie Harperson tells it like it is - the game is up. Whether you like it or not, the game is up.

2:15 pm, February 20, 2009

Blogger Shamik Das said...

Duncan - it's classic evasion; whenever a politician's presented with an awkward question/event/quote, they'll either claim "I'm sorry, I'm unaware of that event so can't comment"; "I am unaware of what he/she said so can't comment"; "It would be inappropriate of me to comment"; "I didn't quite catch the question"; "Hello? Hello? You're breaking up! I can't hear you!"

And, you know what, nine times out of ten they're lying through their teeth!

It happens week in, week out, day in, day out on Newsnight, Channel Four News, Today, Question Time...

2:58 pm, February 20, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There won't be a leadership election before the general. It is too late to start swapping leaders and no MP wants the job of being Labour leader if Labour lose the next election.

This really is just media hype and nothing more.

Do you really think Brown after waiting 10 years for the post is about to walk away....no chance. And do you really think that Brown trusts the polls and has lost faith in his ability to change them by the next election.

My opinion is that Labour will lose the next election regardless of who heads the party. People just want a change.

7:14 pm, February 20, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It don't matter the LP has gone and is finished. All 3 main political parties are the same and have the same imperialist anti working class policies-Your better off with the Green party and they are making gains in building their trade union section. wake up you New labour lot?

1:15 am, February 21, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Collective responsibility is the constitutional convention that, once a policy is decided, ministers must uphold it.

It is not the idea that they must all think, talk, or walk the same. That is a media inspired fiction of use to hacks."

I don't think it's the media that inspired this. I think the blame lies much, much more with the Blarite control freaks.

What gets me here is that none of the current bitching has anything to do with policy. It's all about ministers who are desperate to cling on to power at any cost. If the poll figures improve the bitching will die down, which is probbably the most damming indictment of all if you ask me.

9:42 am, February 21, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a daft and completely unworkable definition of collective responsibility.

Collective responsibility means that you don't speak against decisions made by cabinet. If you weren't allowed to discuss what future policy might be, before it was discussed by the cabinet, no minister would be able to say anything new. Ever.

I'm not a particular fan of Harriet Harman, but I suspect she may be more briefed against than briefing!

3:32 pm, February 21, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If that is the case then what does it say about the Labour party and British politics. Only two months ago Brown was being hailed the Saviour of the world by his party. But as soon as his popularity slumps then the knives come out, yet his policies have not changed.

So what this says it is all about winning and nothing to do with what the Labour party stands for. I would love to know what the Labour party stands for now....because I just don't know.

The working classes have been completely forgotten. So what about the banks and the markets what about the plight of the people of this country.

I agree with the above post, the only party worth voting for is the green party at the moment. The only party offering some solution to the current mess and what they are suggesting is actually achievable. I'm seriously considering voting green in the European elections.

9:00 pm, February 21, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

More and more reason to vote green....the world is going backwards.


How very sad.

1:00 pm, February 22, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now imagine for one second that Gordon Brown had said that politicians should be "servants of ... society and never its master". What a wonderful world that might be!

1:27 pm, February 22, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both Labour and Tories are the same along with those lib Dems UKIP all the parliamentary parties are crap crap except for the greens and socialist party!

1:57 pm, February 22, 2009

Blogger Old Holborn said...


The more you scream racist at all of us, the more people will flock to the party that won’t call them a racist.

We aren’t racists. But we are sick of being told we are by the likes of you.

Just today, I see you are banning African Nuclear Scientists and Engineers from non EU countries from coming to the UK to work, whilst allowing unemployed Somalis holding Dutch passports to flood into Bristol.

Now who’s the racist?

2:03 pm, February 23, 2009

Blogger Chris Paul said...

She's a naughty so and so. It was of course the word on the street that Hazel was herself running the putsch machine in summer 2008.

But whether she speak with forked tongue or not she's right. Though I'm not sure that makes Harrie wrong, or "at it". As Duncan says it looks a bit like she was being smeared over supposed moves.

If a contest or takeover were to occur and if I were looking for a smoking gun I'd head straight for the Library next to Hazel's constituency office.

6:21 pm, February 28, 2009


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