Saturday, February 03, 2007

Let us Speak of Cruddas and Credulity

It never ceases to amaze me the way that Labourite lefties have such short memories. It's as though otherwise intelligent people had this one political achilles heel, an area where try as they might, they couldn't help but be as trusting as a small furry animal that has never met humankind, innocently approaching the trapper as he waves a tasty piece of meat. As surely as night follows day, yet another right-wing candidate learns to "speak socialist", whispers sweet nothings in their ears, and they once again troop off to vote for him/her. Just as inevitably, the right-winger reverts to type, and the left again gets to cry "betrayal". It's like a really old and really, really oft-repeated, hoary old dance routine. Except it's not entertaining. Or comforting.

So it was with no great surprise, albeit also with a sigh of resignation, that I read Dave Osler's latest post on Jon Cruddas. Albeit expressing some (some?!) skepticism about the so-called-left-wing challenger for the Labour deputy leadership's credentials as a genuine socialist, Dave seems to have decided that, at least if Jeremy Corbyn does not stand, he might well vote for the Crudster. In a moment of particularly staggering naivete, Dave says of Cruddas:

"His most interesting comment of the lot is the insistence that Gordon Brown cannot take his support for granted in the race for the prime ministership"

Ooh, exciting. Except of course, as Dave quotes in that very post, what Cruddas actually said was:

"I want to hear what John McDonnell has to say, or anyone else who comes in, like Michael Meacher"

Hardly a passionate declaration of socialist intent, is it? In fact, it sounds rather more like typical political flannel of the sort that a trained journalist like Osler should be able to smell a mile off. I'm not a betting man. However, I think I speak for the sensible majority when I say that if William Hill would give me odds, I'd be putting my entire worldly wealth on Cruddas voting for Brown.

Dave isn't alone in considering voting for Cruddas - although given his political pedigree he's perhaps the most striking example of the folly. The soft-lefties of the Compass group are generally behind Cruddas, as are Kerron Cross, Miranda Grell and the allegedly left-wing (although I can't quite see how) Antonia Bance. Have a good look through the latter three blogs in particular, and you might get more of an idea of where Cruddas is more likely to be coming from.

And just to round off, let's just remind ourselves of what Cruddas really stands for. As previously reported on this blog, Cruddas wants to reduce the voice of the organised labour movement in the Labour Party. In the pamphlet "Fit For Purpose: a Programme for Labour Party Renewal", co-written with John Harris (read the whole thing here if you're desperate, it's a pdf) , Cruddas argues:

"Labour's decision-making bodies - the National Executive Committee (NEC), the National Policy Forum (NPF), the annual conference - should be founded on a model in which a third is given over to the membership, a third to the unions, and a third to a new force made up of MPs, MEPs, Labour representatives in local government, and socialist societies"

One third. Read it again. One third. That's not what left-wing people argue for. I don't know how to put it in simpler terms.

Even for the less sophisticated and/or those who have no interest in internal Labour Party politics, it's still bloody obvious. The man has no record, whatsoever, as a left-winger. He has either voted for, or at least not prominently opposed, every major Blairite piece of legislation bar one (top up fees) since 2001. He voted for the Iraq War. He then had a Damascene conversion to (not very) leftish politics, co-incidentally around the time that it became clear there would be a race for the deputy leadership in the near future.

Even his very honourable record of campaigning against the BNP, which his supporters like to wave around as proof of his left wing credentials, is not actually proof of anything of the sort. Let me be clear - Cruddas does have a good record in this area, certainly better than that of neighbouring MP Margaret Hodge. Indeed, Searchlight's Nick Lowles is the most prominent figure among his campaign staff. But he's far from the only MP in the party with such a record, and he also has the driving incentive that, unlike in most of the country, the BNP are a major electoral threat in his part of London. Furthermore, he has spent most of the past decade as an uncritical supporter of the very government that fostered the sense of hoplessness on working class estates, which allowed the BNP to grow in the first place.

And yet, in spite of all these (easily verifiable) facts, a section of the Labour left continues to troop dutifully through the doors of the Cruddas campaign. They do this even though that campaign is little more than a latter day Barnum & Bailey show, where promised wonders turn out to be cheap illusions. They've been let down before, they'll be let down again, but somehow they can't escape the thrill which comes from the idea that this time, it might just be different.

On Osler's blog, the post above the one which set me off has a heading which calls on people to "Wake up, Smell the Coffee". Couldn't have put it better myself.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home