Deputy leader: the real contest

While Alan Johnson messes around trying to decide whether he is too good to be deputy leader, the crowded field for the second spot in the party is growing by the day. 

Peter Hain threw his fake tan in the ring at TUC Congress this week, and according to eye-witnesses then spent ages speaking to such modernisers as the Cuba Solidarity Campaign.  He is clearly chasing the left vote, but resigning from CND just before the battle over Trident and backing the Iraq war to the hilt are hardly stances likely to win the comrades over.

It now looks like Hain will be joined by Harriet Harman, Jack Straw and Jon Cruddas. 

Harman is a liberal (with a small l…) and is likely to get overwhelming backing from Labour members in the posh bits of Islington.

Straw seems to be aiming for the Gordon’s coat-tails vote, but he lacks grassroots support. Pictures of him with Colin Powell making the case for the Iraq war at the UN, and more recently showing Condi Rice around Blackburn, are hardly going to do him any favours.

Jon Cruddas is interesting because, as the only serious candidate outside of government, he will be free to speak out more than other candidates – as he has in today’s Guardian.  He is apparently yet to make a final decision about standing. 

Most people understand that the leadership election is Brown’s to lose – which he almost certainly won’t. 

The deputy leadership election is therefore the arena for the real debate about the future of the party.  This is helpful because it takes some of the sting out of a contest that could be more fractious than it would be helpful. The deputy post is where the debate is going to be – watch this space.

UPDATE: Today’s Tribune reports that gaffe-prone former Europe Minister Denis MacShane is considering a bid for the deputy leadership.

FURTHER UPDATE: Harriet Harman has now declared.


13 Responses to Deputy leader: the real contest

  1. I’m living in one of the less posh bits of Islington, therefore I’m unlikely to support Harriet Harman.

    Not sure the ‘left vote’ will be all that keen on Hain.

    I’d vote for Cruddas is he stood. He’s the nearest thing to sensible left in either contest, so far.

  2. Neil Foster says:

    Agree totally about Cruddas. It’s all about credibility and the guy oozes it. This man’s the future. When I think about the difficulties we’ve experienced lately, it’s people like him in parliament that keep the blood flowing through the vains.

  3. Matthew says:

    I have just got my copy of this week’s Tribune and I am staggered to say that they report Denis MacShane is thinking about running for deputy! Denis MacShane!

    Tribune says that the former Europe Minister is “considering a bid”. Let’s hope for the sake of the party and the country that people of sanity beg him not to…

  4. Neil Foster says:

    I think what does mark Denis McShane out is that he is part of a select group of ex-ministers that are not bitter at losing their jobs. Whatever people think of him, he is thoughtful. I just don’t see a significant base in the party for him. Is there anyone who isn’t running for Deputy?!

  5. Nick says:

    Totally agree about Cruddas. He’s credible, intelligent, has the right political instincts and is a proven campaigner and organiser. I would once have gone with Hain, but not these days.

    As for MacShane…that is laugh out loud funny. I’d love to see a MacShane deputy leadership bid, but only as an exercise in comedy.

  6. Gareth says:

    MacShane!!! Oh please, I think the Labour Party are in need of a good laugh and thats exactly what his entry would be!

    “Get you Denis MacShane campain t-shirts here!” 🙂 Ha ha ha

  7. Matthew says:

    Come on Neil – you must know better than that! Slagging off supporters of a euro referendum as nazis and trots, then saying that he agreed with a referendum all along; welcoming a coup against Chavez and then saying how pleased he was to be back; signing up to the Henry Jackson Society for liberal imperialism? Not much of a thinker.

    You’re obviously right about Cruddas being a winner though…

  8. Nick says:

    Was that a Freudian typo there, Gareth?

    Denis MacShane – putting the pain into the campaign… 🙂

  9. A MacShane would bid would be genuinely hilarious.

    I think it’s quite difficult to predict whether Denis could beat former Lovejoy star Ian as the most credible MacShane in the contest.

    To attmept to take things beyond that to a ballot of members and affiliates would seem to be an unnecessary exercise in masochism which sympathetic comrades should advise him against.

  10. Benjamin says:

    Harman is a liberal (with a small l…) and is likely to get overwhelming backing from Labour members in the posh bits of Islington.

    I don’t support Harman, but that’s a silly comment.

  11. el tom says:

    Dennis MacShane… dear god…

  12. There was certainly plenty of chortling in The Daily’s newsroom when that name came through on the wire…

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