Independent confirms Benn bid

The Independent today confirms what we told you two days ago – Hilary Benn is throwing his hat in the ring, for deputy leader at least, and has a team in the field canvassing the PLP already. The campaign is being organised by Blair’s party and union fixer, Ian McCartney, while Benn’s PPS Ashok Kumar is being despatched to canvass those MPs not thought important enough to warrant a call from McCartney himself.

Their first task is finding the necessary 44 nominations, which Benn should achieve easily enough. These could be converted in to the nominations for a leadership bid but Benn is adopting a cautious approach so far rather than risking open conflict with Brown.

As the Indy reports, it is widely thought that most of the unions are inclined towards Jon Cruddas, but Unison’s David Prentis is likely to back Alan Johnson. Benn will be hoping to get the support his own union Amicus, which has the largest affiliated membership of any union. He may also have an eye on USDAW, the last big union to still take political lines from the party leadership.

We haven’t been able to confirm this yet, but there are rumours Benn is looking to take on the Campaign Company, a private sector political consultancy, to run his wider campaign.

If Benn does stand for the deputy leadership, it will blow the race wide open, with Hain being particularly squeezed.

13 Responses to Independent confirms Benn bid

  1. Well, if Benn gets the Campaign Company to do his website, Cruddas will be a shoe in.

    It looks like someone’s GCSE IT project.

    On the wider issue, given the chair of the Amicus group of MPs has already come out for Cruddas, Benn could be in for some embarassment there.

    Is Ashok Kumar still Benn’s PPS? I’m sure he’s resigned at least twice this year. He’s certainly openly called for Blair to quit and subtly-slated government policy in the press.

    Do they just let people keep resigning and coming back because no else wants to be a PPS?

  2. Will Parbury says:

    Well being a PPS is a bit of a crap job. No independence and no extra pay.

  3. Liz says:

    I am a fan so would wish him to stand for the leadership! He has all the qualities i want from a PM.

  4. Nick says:

    I might back him for leader but not for deputy. It would be good if he stood for that to give us a bit of a choice in the main race. A choice that isn’t John Reid!

    However, the Campaign Company is a most peculiar choice. It was set up by a couple of ultra-Blairite former Party apparatchicks who still run today, including David Evans. I believe he left the Party after an internal memo was leaked in which he called for CLPs to be stripped of all policy making powers and for the abolition of representative democracy in the party.

    I hope Benn isn’t going to hire them for policy ideas!

  5. Ian G says:

    I too will be sticking with Cruddas for the Deputy Leadership. There’s got to be some change of direction at the top of the party, and I believe that change has to come from outside the current cabinet. That’s not to say I dislike everyone in the cabinet now, but I feel that only a fresh face will help to unite the party and make the required changes to our organisation.

    I will of course be very interested to hear what Benn has to say. I would certainly welcome another leadership contender. There is a real desire in the party for a wider choice. I would even like to see John Reid standing, even though I’d never vote for him in a million years.

  6. Benjamin says:

    Well, I am a little surprised. It looks like he’s running as the standard bearer of the Blairites as well.

    He’s already endorsed Brown, so perhaps there is abit of an “understanding” now – Brown will be leader without a fuss, but a Blairite will be deputy and not Cruddas, that’s the plan, maybe. McCartney is sent out to fix it.

  7. Ian G says:

    If Benn runs as standard bearer for the Blairites he’ll be lucky to avoid last place!

  8. “He’s already endorsed Brown, so perhaps there is abit of an “understanding” now – Brown will be leader without a fuss, but a Blairite will be deputy and not Cruddas,”

    If that’s true, I think someone’s over-estimated the number of MPs who’ll just fall into line behind whatever Brown decides.

  9. Hang on a second... says:

    The Campaign Company? Don’t they do Foundation Hospital applications and stock transfer campaigns? Could be a bit controversial…

  10. JM says:

    I’m still sticking with Cruddas. Hillary just equals more of the same.

  11. You cheeky bastards, I revealed that Hilary Benn was standing on Sunday!

    Some people.

  12. You wrote that some people were waiting to see if Hilary Benn stands and you expected an announcement soon.

    He hasn’t announced anything formally (and I don’t think he will do so that soon, he wants to get the 44 names first and see how the land lies) but our story was about his campaign being up and running.

    At any rate, we made it quite clear that we’d been beaten to it by Tom Watson, so we weren’t exactly claiming an exclusive.

  13. Adele says:

    Where are these rumours coming from that UNISON are going to back Johnson. Dave Prentis is an intelligent guy. Surely he is too clever to do that.

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