Monday, June 04, 2007

Bucket of warm spit?

Gordon joked he was merely the warm-up act for the next event, which was the Deputy Leadership hustings, with Hilary Benn, Hazel Blears, Jon Cruddas, Peter Hain, Harriet Harman and Alan Johnson addressing the 200-strong audience and then taking questions.
I have to say that I wss impressed with all the candidates - even Jon Cruddas, who was far less the identikit Compass groupie I had imagined. After strong performances all round, I would imagine most people in the room would be happy with any one of them as second-in-command to Gordon - no mean feat considering there are six candidates standing. They would all be effective deputies who would ensure that the position remains a crucial part of the Party's make-up.
What was most encouraging was the constructive, not to say comradely way spirit in which the debate was conducted by the candidates. We were told that Labour has put on 1,000 members a month since the deputy leadership process began. The Tories should be concerned that the open process has reinforced to the public that Labour remains the party of the future.
As you can see right however, I'm supporting Alan Johnson's campaign. I've had first-hand experience of Alan through my work on the National Policy Forum, and he has been a shrewd and imaginative Education Secretary - quite an achievement in a notoriously difficult brief. Alone with Hazel Blears, Alan has not been afraid to 'tell it like it is' during the campaign, and has not pandered to some of the old shibboleths as one or two others have done. Finally, and for me crucially, with a Scot leading us into the next General Election, I feel we need a counter-balance - an effective campaigner who can reach out in the crucial south and south east of the country. Alan fits the bill.
I'll be numbering my ballot; 1) Johnson, 2) Blears, 3) Benn, 4) Hain, 5) Cruddas and 6) Harman. The papers will be sent out to Party members on Wednesday.


Peter Kenyon said...

Dear Nick

I am curious about your preferences with regard to the capacity of the Party to renew itself and win a 4th term.

Over the past two years I have been involved with a group of Labour Party members looking at how that can be achieved.

Go to;

We have 17 recommendations alone about Partnership in Power. But wouldn't looking at the state of each of the candidate's CLPs tell us something about their fitness for the tasks ahead?

Have we really heard enough yet about the model of party organisation each favours? Or their views about the LabOUR Commission's 10-point plan, which has been submitted to the NEC?

Mark Burton said...

Judging purely on my first encounter and what they all had to say, I'll be numbering my ballot; 1) Cruddas, 2) Johnson, 3) Blears, 4) Benn, 5) Hain, and 6) Harman.

Paul Leake said...

It surely depends on what you want a leader to do:
a) motivate sections of the party who otherwise would not be as motivated.
b) able to provide frank private advice to the leader.
c) not do anything embarrassing.
d) complement the leader in terms of appealing to potential Labour supporters.

Prescott did most of that. I'm not convinced Hazel Blears would make the best deputy of the six under Gordon Brown - it is hard to see who she would motivate that is not already motivated by GB (except perhaps by her cheerfulness) and if the people I speak to are even vaguely representative, she doesn't come across well to the people Labour needs to win over. Alan Johnson does at least have some stronger Union connections and is said to be the sort of person that could offer advice to the new PM.

The whole policy side of things seems a bit of a red-herring (apart from perhaps highlighting who can motivate specific areas of Labour support) because ultimately whoever is elected Deputy won't change Labour policy on Iraq or Trident.

Anonymous said...

Alan Johnson's union connections are not good enough to get him nominated by his old union, the CWU.