Is Jon Cruddas positioning to become chair of the Labour party?


9:05 am - July 12th 2010

by Sunny Hundal    


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On Friday I received an early copy of David Miliband’s Keir Hardie speech from an unusual source. It’s only when I read the speech I realised why it made sense I got it from them.

The source, close to Jon Cruddas, had co-written it. No wonder Jon Cruddas called it: “the most important speech by a Labour politician for many years” – it chimes with his own sentiments and the language is similar.

So let’s try and join the dots here.

I’ll start by saying I haven’t spoken to anyone from Jon Cruddas’ team about this article simply because it is a hunch. But it’s a strong hunch.

Both Ed and David Miliband have endorsed the idea of a chair for the Labour Party. But neither have expressed a preference.

Jon Cruddas recently rejected the idea of running for leader of the Labour party and said instead:

Those results, in an election that was supposed to deliver a hammer blow to the Labour party, made me more determined than ever to help create a national party rooted in the culture of organising that these local examples signify. Refocusing the party machine, turning the party outwards to the communities we seek to represent, rebuilding our internal democracy and ending the stranglehold of unelected officials are urgent and immediate tasks.

That would basically be the job of the Labour Party chair.

I’m assuming Jon Cruddas wants to be the Labour equivalent of the Democratic party’s Governor Howard Dean, who – after losing the 2004 bid to be leader – became a favourite of the party base and went on to be elected the party’s chair. There he laid down the ’50 state strategy’, which was vital for Obama’s campaign.

So how does this fit in with David Miliband?

David has already endorsed the idea of model of community organising that Cruddas favours. His campaign plans to train up to 1,000 community organisers which won’t just be focusing on winning him the nomination, but also on re-building local Labour networks across the country.

Having Cruddas as chair would be immensely helpful to both of the Milibands. It would make it easier for either of them to move to the centre closer to the election while Cruddas reaches out to the left-wing base of the party.

Regular readers will know I’m a fan of Jon Cruddas. This not only makes strategic sense but I think he would make an excellent chair of the party. Labour needs to be rebuilt from ground up and through a model of community organising that his campaign ran successfully in Dagenham. Now they need to replicate that model across the country.

I’m informed however, that Ed Miliband and Jon Cruddas, while being ideologically closer, don’t get on so well personally. But if push comes to shove they are likely to overcome personal differences and go along because this strategy makes sense.

But it seems that David Miliband, with the Keir Hardie speech, has gone the furthest in actively courting Jon Cruddas (I doubt the latter will endorse anyone in the campaign – or even if he does it will be one of the Milibands). I’m guessing it’s a sign of things to come.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Labour party ,Westminster

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Reader comments


My understanding is that Cruddas supported David Miliband from the start, and that’s one reason why he didn’t stand himself. To me, that says more about Cruddas than Miliband.

And yes, of course he wants to be Labour Party Chair, he’s wanted that for ages & that’s presumably why DM said early in the campaign that there should be an elected Chair (and that’s all he’s said on party democracy, I think).

2. Carl Packman

classic dot joining there Sunny.

But is the rift between EdMil and Cruddas the reason why the latter has not hedged his bets (a sensible act if both Miliband brothers support a chair). Should his team not now write a speech for Ed Miliband (help me out, I don’t know when his next one is or where) and Cruddas be complimentary of that.

I mean, if Cruddas is speaking nice words about David Miliband then Cruddas is obviously a good liar, why can’t he put his differences with EdMil behind him and wax nice about him?

I’m not liking all this dishonesty by the way, it is very unpoliticianlike.

endorsed the idea of a chair for the Labour Party

there should be an elected Chair

Isn’t there already a party chair/man? Last I heard, Harriet Harman was it, under Brown as Leader.

4. Sunder Katwala

The links between Cruddas and Miliband’s historical narrative of Hardie and Labour’s origins are explored at length in this post, which offers a heretical challenge to both of them, in arguing that Hardie was considerably more engaged in the politics of progressive alliances and much more dependent on Lab-Lib links between the fledgling Labour party and the Liberals than either acknowledges.

http://www.nextleft.org/2010/07/so-how-far-did-keir-hardie-reject-lib.html

That seems to me simply a matter of the historical record, whatever view one takes of Labour strategy now, but I would draw a contemporary warning from it.

“Labour does have a suspicion of political alliances and entanglements which often runs much deeper than it does for Liberals or Conservatives. Ramsay MacDonald’s betrayal of 1931 retains an important symbolic role, and so reinforces the tendency to turn Keir Hardie into a plaster saint, a polar opposite, always rejecting alliances as a dilution of socialist principle. So the party instinctively feels that the new Con-Lib Coalition will help to clarifying an adversarial choice. Perhaps. Yet, in the long-run, it seems unlikely that the deep and gradual shift to increased pluralism in British politics over the last thirty years will be sharply reversed. If that does prove to be the case, enshrining Labour’s historic aversion to political alliances into a proud shibboleth of integrity, even at the price of impotence, could prove a costly mistake, particularly when it can be shown that Labour’s founding father demonstrated rather more flexibility and pragmatism in pursuing the cause”.

I also suggest that the specific example of Keir Hardie a century ago may today perhaps be of most relevance to the Green Party, with a parliamentary party of one.

Is Jon Cruddas making a ploy to be Chair of the Labour Party and if so is this a good thing?

If true I’d say it’s about the best thing to happen to the party in years. Cruddas, almost alone amongst leading Labour figures recognised the need to get back to the grassroots while the party hierarchy was still spinning its way to oblivion.

Only a return to being a democratic, bottom up movement can begin the long and painful process of reconnecting the Labour Party with the core vote it so cynically took for granted during the Blair years.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Is Jon Cruddas positioning to become chair of the Labour party? http://bit.ly/9mEQia

  2. Joseph Barnsley

    @SteveAkehurst http://tinyurl.com/37wnqzl

  3. Izzy Boggild-Jones

    RT @libcon Is Jon Cruddas positioning to become chair of the Labour party? http://bit.ly/9Obav4

  4. Ellie Russell

    RT @libcon: Is Jon Cruddas positioning to become chair of the Labour party? http://bit.ly/9mEQia

  5. Richard Budden

    @ellierussell RT @libcon: Is Jon Cruddas positioning to become chair of the Labour party? http://bit.ly/9mEQia <— I bloody hope so!!!

  6. B Latif

    That is the obvious conclusion. Why not?
    RT @libcon: Is Jon #Cruddas positioning to become #chair of the #Labour party? http://bit.ly/9mEQia

  7. Paul Sandars

    RT @EllieRussell: RT @libcon: Is Jon Cruddas positioning to become chair of the Labour party? http://bit.ly/9mEQia

  8. Steve Ainsworth

    I sincerely hope so. I might rejoin. RT @libcon: Is Jon Cruddas positioning to become chair of the Labour party? http://bit.ly/9mEQia

  9. James Easy

    RT @EllieRussell: RT @libcon: Is Jon Cruddas positioning to become chair of the Labour party? http://bit.ly/9mEQia

  10. sunny hundal

    Is Jon Cruddas positioning to become chair of the Labour party? http://bit.ly/9mEQia

  11. Adam White

    RT @sunny_hundal: Is Jon Cruddas positioning to become chair of the Labour party? http://bit.ly/9mEQia > nicely put Sunny, totally agree.

  12. Arran Russell

    RT @sunny_hundal: Is Jon Cruddas positioning to become chair of the Labour party? http://bit.ly/9mEQia

  13. Arran Russell

    @TomBage it might be so according to @sunny_hundal http://bit.ly/9mEQia

  14. Peterward

    @Neilwigg
    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/07/12/is-jon-cruddas-positioning-to-become-chair-of-the-labour-party/

  15. Neil Wigglesworth

    RT @peterward2008 @Neilwigg
    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/07/12/is-jon-cruddas-positioning-to-become-chair-of-the-labour-party/ < ?

  16. sunny hundal

    I made this argument after Kier Hardie lecture – before Cruddas said he wanted to be chair http://bit.ly/9mEQia





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