15 June 2007

More Analysis On the Deputy Leadership.

Let me first say, that all of the six candidates will be able to work with Gordon Brown - I cannot see any of them causing him a big headache (thankfully) or even challenging his policy ideas that much (not so good). The Deputy race was always going to be the wooden spoon after the disappointment of there being no election for the PM.

But after careful thought over the last couple of weeks since I decided to reluctantly back Alan Johnson, I have decided to change my mind...

I have always thought that the best people in the Labour party are those who have come from a background with aspirational Tory (preferably working class) parents. These are the people (Ken Livingstone, Tony Blair (although Blair was not working class)) who seem most able to unite the country, see both sides of the argument and also be the most competent, so my first instincts were towards selecting Alan Johnson.

But Alan's campaign has been surprisingly lacklustre - his website is vacuous and his campaign is overly based on personality. He backs proportional representation but is too timid to mention it and on every issue seems more concerned about rocking the boat than making any strong commitments - maybe this is a tactic - maybe this is even wise so as to maximise impact behind the scenes - or maybe it is just a sign of a lack of backbone - but whatever, it has managed to put me off voting for Johnson (along with Blears backing him as her second choice). Saying all that, the backing Alan has at the Parliamentary party (backing of most MPs) and at Union level (with the backing of the biggest union - Unison) still makes him favourite to win (plus he has the crucial backing of the Daily Mirror and even The Sun).

Then there is Jon Cruddas - who has ran a strong campaign and won a lot of support on the blogosphere - but as we all know, the views of the blogosphere rarely reflects what is going to happen amongst a much older, less privileged group of electors. Also the parliamentary party and the Union vote might easily outweigh his support amongst the members.

What has put me off Jon is this report on where he sends his son (religious selective school) and details on his second property allowance, and these non-answers to the humanist group - if you are going to try and pretend a left-wing stance and a higher level of principles then you need to be squeaky clean. Also although some people see it as a strength that he is not contesting the deputy PM role (look at the power the ODPM gave Prescott - particularly his role in promoting brown site redevelopment)- I have always saw this decision as a weakness considering he says he wants to get more social houses built the ODPM would give him more influence. Giving up this influential role must weaken his influence over policy and with the PM. Limiting yourself to just party re-organisation is most definitely a weakness in my eyes even if you manage to do a good job of strengthening the party - which I doubt he will but at least he does seem to have the most detailed policies outlined.

Then there is Peter Hain with an impressive record behind him - some have said that this is just history and he is now a spent force - but I disagree with that assessment. Peter Hain came second on the humanist group questions and supports the Alternative Vote (though not PR) so coupled with his equality stuff (he really emphasises inequality as a problem) his heart is in the right place.

I was initially very put off Harriet Harman because she is heavily backed by Gordon Brown and because of the situation with her choice of kid's school, but her support for assisted dying and her winning the backing of Polly Toynbee plus her support from Amnesty International have pulled her back into the frame.

Hazel Blears has been described here as Thatcherite. While she is undoubtedly the most right wing candidate I wouldn't go that far - she is however irritating although she does apparently come across well face to face. Her comments on immigrants are disgraceful and this keeps her firmly in last place on my list.

Hillary Benn is a curious character - I like his work in international development but his religion and his categorical refusal to consider PR are an insurmountable problem. I also am not a fan of political dynasties which I think can mean an easier path for people into office and this can affect their judgement.

Overall, all the candidates have positives and negatives and I am not sure which ones to choose if I am honest - it is confusingly close (except for Blears).

Anyway after much deliberation...

1. Hain
2. Harman
3. Cruddas
4. Johnson
5. Benn
6. Blears

Some of this is tactical - I have boosted Harman and Hain perhaps more than they deserve as I think Johnson will probably win anyway - but lets see. I have put Cruddas above Johnson because at least Jon outlines what he wants to do.

After seeing last night's question time - not convinced this ordering is too wrong.

Finally just to re-iterate, make sure you rank all the candidates to prevent Blears slipping through. It is imperative that Blears doesn't win.


  1. 'John Cruddas' with an 'h' is a sin indeed... :op

  2. indeed yeah will correct that.

  3. Actually Cruddas doesn't send his son to a selective school - that was just the Daily Mail spin - it's his local state comp. He uses his second home allowance alright, but so does almost every MP who isn't independently wealthy.

    Frankly I'm rather alarmed that any so-called socialist would take the Daily Mail at face value on anything. Do you believe their stories about asylum seekers too?

    Similarly I'm a bit surprised that you dismiss Benn because of his religion. I didn't actually know he was religious but I'm not sure it should make any difference. Would the same apply this test to his father? How about Keir Hardie?

    Still, you're right about Blears and using all your votes to keep her out. All the other candidates have some merits by comparison.

  4. The school is religious and well away from his constituency in Dagenham - his local school has poor results.

    I don't blame Cruddas for doing the best for his children - but like Harman he is getting a better deal out of the state sector than some and this is unfair. It would be better if they sent their kids to an independent school and cut the pretence.

  5. I think anybody in this day and age who professes religion is either an idiot or lying. That is what I believe and I think it is something that needs to be said more often. There really is no justification for believing in a god and all the superficial and vindictive nonsense that comes with it - all the stuff about burning in hell and angels and ghosts etc etc. It is all gobbledygook and I don't understand how we can trust anyone's judgement who believes such shit.

  6. I too have chosen Hain. I too am concerned by the religious tendency in the party and its distorting effect. Benn is also rich.

  7. Yep, more than any other issue it is faith schools and other pandering to the religious that puts me off the Labour party leadership.

    Saying that, there are more athiests in the Labour party than in any other.

  8. It is all gobbledygook and I don't understand how we can trust anyone's judgement who believes such shit.
    I agree - Mr (very religious) Blair's judgement on Iraq for one thing.

    As a result of my basically Chistian upbringing (although I am an atheist and wasn't Christened - were you?) however, I feel we should practise religious tolerance whilst divorcing Church and state entirely and banning State funding for Faith schools.

  9. I think faith schools are a bigger mistake than Blair's decision to back Bush over Iraq.

    Faith Schools will cost lives and divide our society well into the future whereas backing Bush probably saved lives (especially if it stopped Bush using nuclear weapons in the middle east and bombing Al Jazeera and 'god knows' waht else).

  10. That's not really the point is it? You were saying you can't trust the judgement of anyone who is a believer in all this nonsense - I agreed about Tony Blair. I gave the example of Iraq. I seriously doubt if his war saved any lives, but it's unknowable.

    I think some of the less loony people in the USA would have stopped Bush nuking anyone, but that is unknowable - then again, if he had, the deaths from a single nuke could have been fewer if it stopped conflict like the WWII experience.

    The fact is, by your own standards, you can't trust the judgment of Tony Blair, on Iraq, on Faith schools, The press, anything - you said so.

  11. It was a sweeping statement - but I would certainly trust Blair more if he were an atheist. In a lot of ways I suspect he is one really.

  12. Oh I see, just for a second I thought you were serious! .....sorry - it's been a long day

  13. As a general rule, if someone is religious I do think it puts more doubt on their judgement - but of course - not necessarily.

  14. Not what you said, though. You make exceptions if you feel the person who professes a strong belief is a bit of an atheist really? And you have the cheek to call others hypocrites? what a joke.

  15. Like I say I backtrack on the sweeping statement, but the general point is that religion can cloud someone's judgement. Hypocritical? Well I am quite open in my criticism of Blair over things like faith schools and open about my preference that he wasn't religious, so I don't think it is. Certainly not in the same way that NO2ID are hypocrites.

  16. No of course not - other people are alway hypocrites, never you :-)