Tribune on Benn

From today’s Tribune:

Benn to run for deputy leader
Barckley Sumner

Hilary Benn is planning to announce his candidature for Labour’s deputy leadership, Tribune has learned.

Last week, Ashok Kumar, Mr Benn’s parliamentary private secretary, began canvassing support for his boss among backbench MPs. It is understood that Mr Benn’s campaign manager will be former Labour Party chair Ian McCartney and the communications agency The Campaign Company will run much of the campaign.

Mr Benn, the Secretary of State for International Development, only became an MP in 1999. Before entering the House of Commons, he was head of research at white-collar union MSF (now Amicus).

Mr Benn is regarded as being on the modernising wing of the party but not sufficiently hardline to alienate middle-of-the-road backbenchers.

His candidature could damage the electoral prospects of Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain, who is seeking support from a similar constituency.

Mr Benn has been heavily criticised by the more radical sections of the international development movement over the “conditionality” policy which forced developing countries to privatise their public services in return for aid. Despite dropping the conditionality policy, DfID still “assists” developing nations with privatisation schemes.

The use of a professional organisation to run an internal Labour election campaign has alarmed many party insiders, who see it as a further example of the Americanisation of Labour’s campaigning.

Labour’s declining membership has caused some senior figures to turn their backs on traditional grassroots campaigning. Instead, they are prepared to pay private “experts” to perform tasks previously done voluntarily. Mr Benn’s office, Mr McCartney and the Campaign Company failed to return Tribune‘s calls. Mr Kumar declined to comment.

You did, of course, read this on the blogosphere first, whether here, or via Tom Watson or even Harry Perkins, but at least Tribune and the Guardian got there eventually.

5 Responses to Tribune on Benn

  1. Ian G says:

    I find it quite unbelievable that a private company has been brought in to manage a leadership campaign in the Labour Party. I would have thought Ian McCartney at least would have more respect for our traditions.

    Also one has to ask who is paying the Campaign Company, presumably they don’t run deputy leadership campaigns for fun.

  2. The Guardian seemed to be implying that David Evans has been brought in as Benn’s campaign director. He could be doing it for free, maybe with a plan to get back in to politics?

    I have a feeling that PPERA covers some aspects of internal elections, so it will probably end up in the open if it is a paid consultancy contract. I don’t imagine Benn would have trouble raising money if he has the right people on board though. Progress and the like are never short of cash!

  3. Yes, comrades might like to consider where the money’s going if they shop at Sainsburys.

    Support small local shops!

  4. Dave Hill says:

    Yes, yes. But would he be better than Cruddas?

  5. We are very much in favour of Cruddas, and Benn entering the race doesn’t change that at all. He’s a nice guy and a reasonably competent minister (though we disagree with plenty that he’s done) but he doesn’t have the kind of agenda for the deputy leadership that we think is needed.

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