Surprise, elation and disappointment at Cruddas’s endorsement of DM

So, the Labour Party’s most popular politician, a man respected for his honesty and outspokenness, Jon Cruddas, is backing David Miliband for the leadership. Many are surprised; some are elated – citing it as proof of the that David represents a ‘board church’; some disappointed.

Our guest writer is Arthur Baker, a 17-year-old Young Labour member from south east london and a member of Compass

So, the Labour Party’s most popular politician, a man respected for his honesty and outspokenness, Jon Cruddas, is backing David Miliband for the leadership.

Many are surprised; some are elated – citing it as proof of the that David represents a ‘board church’; some disappointed, saddened to be criticising a man for whom they have enjoyed campaigning while he was doing such good work defeating the BNP in Dagenham, a man for whom one has such a deep respect.

There is disappointment that one of Labour’s best, most outspoken, and leftist MPs has made a huge compromise, giving his loyalty – which may mean an awful lot in this election – to the rightist candidate, with may seem to some to be very murky reasoning.

In this week’s New Statesman, Cruddas says he is backing David because “there’s a pluralism I detect in David that I hadn’t witnessed before”:

“We see it around issues of party reform, devolution and local government, and around the question of national identities within Labour — are we heading towards a federal form of Labour, for instance? And, actually, he’s not just attacking the Liberals, as some of the others have.”

He adds:

What was interesting to me about this was when he started talking about belonging and neighbourliness and community, more communitarian politics, which is where I think Labour has to go.

“He [David] is the only one [of the leadership contenders] that has got into some of that. He’s tackling some of more profound questions that need to be addressed head-on. What is the nature of the reckoning?

“We should not just be running from the record but having a nuanced approach to some of the things that went wrong, as well as defending the things that went right.”

Cruddas, many assumed, would support Ed. He says that he respects David for “having a nuanced approach to some of the things that went wrong, as well as defending the things that went right”. Interestingly, while Dave still stoically defends the Iraq war, ID cards, tuition fees, etc, Jon “deeply regrets voting the way he did” on Iraq, and accepts that the war was a mistake – though he did himself vote in favour of military action in March 2003.

Many feel Cruddas and Ed have got the balance right when it comes to admitting mistakes and defending Labour’s achievements in office. Ed admits that mistakes had been made with ID cards, stop and search laws, and Iraq, and that a graduate tax would be “fairer than tuition fees” – in a way, even a Cruddas/Ed Balls coalition would have been a better fit, he too admits many of these things, some of which Cruddas was against at the time, are mistakes.

In a recent article, Ed commended the Liberal Democrats’ “proud traditions of social justice” whilst criticising their current leadership. Another facet of David’s that Cruddas says he was impressed by is the “fact that [David] Miliband had not just been attacking the Liberal Democrats” – an attribute that is obviously also shared by Ed.

Jon laments the fact that “by 2001 New Labour’s policies were essentially based on a mythical ‘Middle England’”, and criticises the Blair administration for “ignoring their traditional support in the chase for middle-class voters”. This was in his 2009 speech to Compass, for whose organising committee he is currently standing. This position seems to be a lot closer to Ed’s; Ed recently wrote an article about how Labour must not forsake the working classes in order to chase the middle class vote.

David, however, insists that “it [Labour] cannot retreat into its working-class heartlands” and describes the working classes as “a minority”. Don’t get me wrong, at least the first of those statements may well be right, and I’m sure all of the men agree votes are needed from all social classes, but it is clear that while David puts the emphasis on gaining middle class votes, Ed and Jon put the emphasis on working class votes. But it is not just about the votes you go for, it is about the values voted for. Was the New Labour project a means to an end or a permanent ideological shift? That is what we are deciding in this election.

Jon says that David “is beginning to touch on some of those profound questions that need to be addressed head-on”. Again, a description that seems more fitting to Ed, especially from a centre-leftist point of view, and anyway, what exactly are the profound questions that David’s been addressing head on?

It is also important to note that Ed, though focusing on the lost C2 and DE voters, recognises the importance of having wide appeal. In a speech only yesterday, he said Labour must reach out to “affluent voters”, explaining how “New Labour’s unwillingness to act to shape the economy let down the squeezed middle who turned against the party as they found themselves working harder for longer for less”.

It has been suggested that Jon has been tempted by David’s promise to create an elected chair of the Labour Party, a position Jon has campaigned for, and would almost certainly get. Perhaps, like the Lib Dems, he thinks it is worth helping the right wing candidate win in order to temper some of his policies – which Jon admits he disagrees with.

I suspect that as Party chair he could ensure David carries out his promises to “rejuvenate Labour’s grassroots” and give more power to the members. Many, many people can’t think of anyone more suited to that job – but to support David for this, in spite of the clashes on policy and ideology, seems to be letting the ’94 bathwater back in with the baby. Jon doesn’t even pretend David is his closest match for policy, and his reasoning about “profound questions” sounds a bit vague.

Perhaps it has nothing to do with the elected chair either, but is to do with their friendship from their days together working for Tony in Number 10. Either way, one can’t help but feel that if he had thrown his weight behind Ed, it could have made all the difference, and he may well have ended up as chair anyway.

• To vote in the Labour leadership election, you must join the Labour Party before 8th September.

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14 Responses to “Surprise, elation and disappointment at Cruddas’s endorsement of DM”

  1. Harry Barnes

    All 5 candidates have now produced what they call Manifestos, see –

  2. Robert

    Cruddas is left leaning, sorry he might believe that, but if this bloke was to lean to the left he have to fall off the fence not something he’d enjoy.

  3. Ravinder

    Cruddas needs David Miliband and his pro-South policies because he’s one of the last Labour MPs left in the South. It’s perhaps not so much political alignment as electoral calculus.

  4. Benjamin

    There is nothing in Crudas’s actual record that suggests he is particularly left. There was a lot of projection going on maybe.

  5. Phil

    At the risk of being very unpopular I have to say that allowing a 17 year old to write for LFF only emphasises the personality-driven politics we have to suffer these days. No doubt politics was always thus…blah, blah, blah but Arthur is talking about recent history of which he has no experience. Doesn’t encouraging this sort of thing lead to a party with the higher echelons having no experience of the world of work outside politics? I would be interested to hear your career plan my young friend because I fear you have your eye on some party position, then a role as special advisor and then and then…
    I mean Danny Alexander is about to destroy the fabric of our public life and he’s done nothing with his life!

  6. Stuart Madewell

    Excuse me what does a 17 year old know about Jon Cruddas’s values or Labours.
    Stop turning your nose up at New Labour Values and try to understand what they are

  7. Robert

    A seventeen year year old will know a lot about New Labour, they lived through it, of course they will know little of why new Labour was closer to Thatcher then say Marx

  8. Daniel Mayhew

    I’m 19 and i have always known that the economy policy that new labour had wasbased of market economy of the 1980’s but the difference was that the money spent in office went to people not the rich. But i do agree with the comments on Crudas’s actual record.

    One thing the writer has missed is a statement the david says about the Iraq war, ID cards, tuition fee and that is we can’t go back on decisions that we thought was good a the time it show that we can’t think of policy without changes are mind few years later to fit in with the time (the torries do this).

  9. Kirth Dube

    I am backing David because he is the only candidate who meets the criteria for UK’s Obama. As ethnic minorities, we see in him a leader rather than his ethnic background, we see a colleague rather than his origins. He carries the hopes of all. David must not forget that when we put him back into Downing street. From now on the slogan for Labour has to be “Together we can build to win”.

  10. Paul Douglas

    The ageism on display in these comments is a disgrace. Arthur and myself are the product of New Labour’s time in Office. He, and I, are equally capable of commenting on it as anyone. Being 17 does not preclude him from making a judgment call. This is the Party most in favour of Votes for 16, so you had better get used to listening to 17-year-olds.

  11. Jonathan da Silva

    To any youth dismayed at the sophistry of leftists hawking their superiority over young people they should realise that this is what they need to fight on the Left – that snarky need to be one up not to achieve anything. People who think a smart one liner and damning someone’s view point is the route to anything but smug sanctimonious marginalisation.

    It’s certainly why I would stay unaligned on the left and not be patronised by these 5 so called candidates and their placard policies.

    It’s why the left found itself cheerleader to war, torture, rendition, locking up children, 90 day detention, racist multiculturalism, CCTV obsession and a new law every day for 13 years it seemed. The left needs young people to think for themselves and get rid of the tired world weary layers above. Ignore their ignorance and just take factual criticism and learn.

    For me supporting either discredited Miliband is ridiculous for anyone on the left if you ask me. Oh and to answer one point the only thing that David Miliband would appear in common with Obama is the self serving ego to launch Drone Strikes on the basis of questionable intelligence on third party villages with the inevitable collateral damage and see themselves as anything but depraved – never mind “Secret Prisons” on airbases.

  12. Arthur

    Phill, is there actualy anything in the article you dissagree with? Did you find any information missing because of my “lack of experience”? So far my carreer plan consists of a politics degree, followed by either charity work, or a teaching degree. These sanctimonious comments appear every time I write, maybe to be taken seriously I need a pseudonim.

  13. thangam debbonaire

    Arthur,dont take it to heart! I was your age during thatcher era and i was perfectly capable of understanding what the effects of her fiscal policies were. I am too young to remember the 30s but I know what the depression was. You have clearly learnt to research and your writing is a credit to education under labour. you may need to learn to spell if you are going to be a teacher. But keep on keeping on.

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