Another day another Blairite departs.
Somebody wake McBride and tell him…
Guido has yet to see a list of the “handful” of MPs who want a leadership election. So with the help of you co-conspirators shall we compile the list? Guido will start it off:
Add names and references in the comments.
The Prime Mentalist’s strategic communications adviser is a former Daily Mirror journalist. She is leaving to become a lobbyist. No news on Stephen Carter’s exit, rumours still circulate in Labour circles that Maguire could succeed him. C’mon Kevin, save Gordon!
The tip that Guido finds the most credible is the fifth: the original leak was from within Labour HQ and there are, says the source, in total 23 requests from MPs for nomination papers. The same source says that they believe Roy Kennedy leaked the story or caused the story to be leaked. The source paints a picture of Labour HQ as thoroughly demoralised and points out that unlike the Downing Street apparatchiks, the Labour HQ apparatchiks will still keep their jobs if Brown goes. Labour HQ staff have a vital interest in the survival of the Labour Party, not the survival of Gordon.
This is a statement they are releasing tomorrow* signed by a dozen Blairites – Janet Anderson, Karen Buck, Patricia Hewitt, George Howarth, Eric Joyce, Sally Keeble, Stephen Ladyman, Martin Linton, Shona McIsaac, Margaret Moran, Tom Levitt, and Paddy Tipping.
LABOUR BACKBENCHERS DEMAND BOLD NEW NARRATIVE
In a joint article for Progress Magazine, 12 Labour backbench MPs, including six former ministers, urge the leadership to develop a convincing new narrative which has to be more than a series of policy initiatives in order to restore Labour’s fortunes.
Writing in the Labour Conference edition of the magazine, they say that Labour has no explanation yet as to how it will steer the economy through the troubled waters ahead claiming that one-off taxes and pay-outs, no matter how justified in their own terms, do not amount to a strategy. There is a yawning chasm which the Labour party needs to fill, or the government will suffer a hammer blow.
They suggest the government needs to be better at communicating what it’s going to do about the things that affect people day to day, noting that Harold Wilson’s pound in your pocket and Thatcher’s likening of the economy to a household budget may have been derided by the pundits but understood by the public.
The MPs label recent policies to deal with the crises of 10p tax and the housing market defensive and suggest instead Labour needs to be championing change, leading the debate about new ideas and renewing confidence in our economic competence.
They note the government’s strong investment in public services, but suggest there is a malaise. They write: “We have spent money, diversified, provided choice. But Labour needs to do more to give the public a sense of ownership of public services and a say in how we design and deliver services. This does not mean, they caution a return to a top-down command economy in the public sector but instead urge the government to shift power away from centralised institutions to the individual.”
The backbenchers criticise the failure to create a wholly democratic legislature as unfinished business and argue there is a lack of coherence in the devolution of powers to subsidiary tiers of government, and what should be the final settlement for Scotland. They suggest that fixed term parliaments could provide some certainty to voters and redress the balance of power between the executive and citizen.
They don’t actually say “Brown must go”, but you get the drift… particularly since many of the signatories are the MPs who have requested nomination papers.
*Full article in its entirety here. Guido called Progress for a copy of the statement, they said rather churlishly that they wouldn’t give him a copy of the embargoed press statement. So Progress – you can stuff your embargo – this was obtained through investigative reporting comrades.
As various commentators consider Labour’s prospects, the term “Blairite” is being deployed to characterise the policies and personalities of some who question the party’s current direction and urge Labour to face the future. Like “Thatcherite”, the word is not used kindly. “Blairite” (even “über-Blairite”) is a lazy and inaccurate shorthand. It is intended not to illuminate but to diminish, marginalise and insult. It was, for example, the stock phrase used by the Brown political briefing team to traduce David Miliband’s Guardian article in early August.
Moreover, this misleading language damages the vital need for Labour to move on to new, post-Blair ground. Those journalists and politicians who use it are fighting the last political struggle, the War of the Tony Blair Succession, in a way that owes rather more to Just William and the Hubert Laneites than to the challenges of modern British politics.
In the newspapers this summer, I have read about “eye-wateringly ‘Blairite’ gospels”; about “Blairites” “thumbing their noses” at progressive politics; about “Blair privatisers” and how “Blairites” are the “business wing” who “play the markets against the ‘progressive wing’ of the party”. Some argue David Cameron is now more progressive than new Labour and that Labour under Blair became a party of the centre-right.
This deceitful nonsense has to end. Everyone in Labour needs to stop obsessing about the past and to start obsessing about the future…. Similarly, there is no Blairite plot, despite rumours and persistent newspaper reports. There is, however, a deep and widely shared concern – which does not derive from ideology – that Labour is destined to disaster if we go on as we are, combined with a determination that we will not permit that to happen.
See also Clarke’s September 2006 article on Brown: He Lacks Courage and Vision, He’s Delusional and a Control Freak. That turned out to be completely on the money.
This just in from a co-conspirator’s Crackberry:
I am en route on the 3.18 from Hull to London with two loud mouthed Labourites. Ivan Lewis, [Health PuSS] and his [researcher?].
They are deciding whether to go for a quote based on the Bevan quote that Tories are lower than vermin“Calling Bob at the Mirror on the rats and hospitals story. Will you tell me if you think this response if too churlish for the Mirror… When Bevan founded the NHS, he said Tories lower than vermin, I wouldn’t describe them like this but their approach to cleaner hospitals..”
His assistant,“If Bevan said that – that is the bollocks stuff”
Guido’s co-conspirators are everywhere, and they are laughing at you politicians.
UPDATE II 6 Aug : Looks like the Mirror didn’t use their “Tory vermin” quote.
Tomorrow will be my last day as Gordon Brown’s Political Secretary. It has been a privilege to work for Gordon and the wider team here at No 10 and I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity. It has been a fascinating and hectic year.
I have also been lucky to work closely with you, not only in my current post but as the first women PLP Secretary. I will be taking away very many happy memories, particularly of the evening we gathered in the Chamber for the photograph to mark the Centenary of the PLP.
My next venture is to start my own communications business which I am very excited about.
My mobile number will remain the same xxxxxxx, my new email address is email@example.com Joe Irvin has been appointed to replace me. Joe has for the past year worked as a special adviser to the Prime Minister on trade union, employment and housing issues.
He is a lifelong Labour Party member and previously worked as special adviser to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott 1996-2001, and was for many years a trade union official. I know you will give him all your support.
With my best wishes
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New Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has big ambitions in his first meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu today:
“I came to bring this conflict to an end.”
Christie Malry @fcablog
Ed Miliband does photo oops, not photo ops