Telegraph touts Miliband candidacy

Toby Helms writes in today’s Telegraph that Miliband may throw his brain in the ring for the deputy leadership. A second glance, however, reveals that he has clearly not heard this from Miliband himself but is reporting the thoughts of other figures.

Apparently some Blairite ministers and apparatchiks are after a “stop Jon Cruddas” candidate, with Cruddas apparently viewed as a dangerous and credible opponent of the Blairites’ public services agenda.

Blair himself is reported, both by Helms and elsewhere, to be enthusiastically backing Benn but some of his key allies are unsure if he can get sufficient parliamentary support, while the Brown camp is reluctant to be lumbered with a Blairite outrider.

There seems to be a school of thought that Miliband is a figure better able to unite the Blair and Brown camps and win as a “New Labour” champion.

However, this is probably a case of certain Blairite spinners flying a kite in the media to see if it stays airborne. Blair himself is happy to throw his weight behind Hilary Benn and Miliband sounds reluctant to bear the Blairite flame instead, fearing that such antics, far from uniting the party, will exacerbate divisions instead.

Nonetheless, when even the Praetorian Guard in No 10 are going off message, we do feel that the last days of the Blair Empire are here.


24 Responses to Telegraph touts Miliband candidacy

  1. tyger says:

    I can’t help but think of Miliband as an outside bet for challenging Brown. What’s the reason for Blair’s reticence? Of course it’s a crazy thought, and no doubt Blair will come out for Brown in last few weeks, but Miliband is ‘putting it about’ and someone will challenge Brown.

  2. snowflake5 says:

    It’s just wishful thinking from the Telegraph (what do they know about Labour anyway?)

    Miliband would be nuts to go for the deputy job, because Labour deputies never make the top job, and Miliband might want to succeed Brown in 2014 or so.

    I admit to being unenthused about all the declared deputy candidates so far. Cruddas is not up to being DPM and he knows it, hence the “I’ll just be deputy party leader not deputy PM” stance. But Brown needs a DPM – Blair after all had two foils; Brown to provide the Scottish gravitas and Prescott to represent the English working class. Brown needs a proper DPM to offset his gloomy persona and to deputise when he’s not around.

    Hilary Benn – not sure he’s tough enough – International development means giving money to the poor of the world (always popular) and he has no angry domestic voters to deal with in this role. Not sure how he’d fare in a tougher job.

    Hazel Blears irritates people by being upbeat even when the situation doesn’t warrant it.

    Harriet Harman is too woolly and ineffectual

    Alan Johnson has blown it with his climb down on faith schools (he’s developing a reputation for caving on difficult issues).

    Jack Straq has too much Iraq baggage.

    Peter Hain – too orange tan, plus he waffles.

    I wish someone like Caroline Flint would run – just saw her on Channel 4 news dealing with Health questions, and she was very effective (she’s almost always more effective than Patricia Hewitt on television). Also she looks good (my husband noticed!) and presentation will be important in the next election. And she’s an English woman. And it would be difficult for Tories to lampoon her the way they do Blears and Harman. If only someone could think of a way to persuade her to run!

  3. el tom says:

    What would really make things interesting if Miliband stood would be if Brown and Cruddas could go beind Blair’s back and broker some sort of pact.


    Now you see why a Miliband candidacy could be divisive.

    Why does the PM have to pick anyone anyway? He’s meant to be going!

    One only hopes that if Miliband stands, Johnson and Benn have the cajones to stay in. It could end up in none of them getting nominated, though I am sure, in a sick and tired kind of way, there will be a line.

    Go Cruddas.

    By the way, I have decided to stand myself, everyone else seenms to have.

  4. Jo Malik says:

    David Miliband would have to have an absolute death wish to enter this contest and Snow Flake, Cruddas is definitely up to the job of DPM but he would rather rebuild our party so we actually WIN another election to ensure we can have a DPM! Tell me which other MP you know that has presided over a month on month increase – yes INCREASE – in their CLP membership over the last 18 months? You don’t know? Thought so cos it’s only Cruddas. I really don’t see what the problem is with splitting the role and let Cruddas rebuild our party as Deputy Leader while some other person (I really don’t care who) spends their time touring the world as DPM. The party comes first if we are going to stay in government and that is the reason why Cruddas is fighting to be an influential Labour party deputy leader not a decorative, powerless Deputy Prime Minister.

  5. Adele says:

    Bloody hell, Cruddas can be my labour MP then! Anyone who reinvigorates their CLP is worthy of a medal. It is a difficult task.

  6. GeorgeM says:

    Caroline Flint?! Deputy prime minister?! Nooooooooooooo.

  7. Paul Linford says:

    Toby Helm (singular)

  8. Thanks Paul – need work as a proof reader?

  9. Jo Malik says:

    What does the Dail think of this from this morning’s glorious Sun newspaper?,,2-2006500820,00.html

  10. Benjamin says:

    Hazel Blears has got to be one of the most annoying people in politics, so the added projection she’ll get as Deputy if she gets the job will rile me even more.

    Out of the candidates for Deputy, I’ll plump for Cruddas.

  11. Andrea says:

    Re The Sun piece.
    They say that Harman ” has antagonised Mr Brown”

    I thought she spent the whole time saying she’s a woman and that she 220% back Brown!

  12. snowflake5 says:

    Hi Jo Malik

    I’m glad Cruddas is so successful in building up his local party – but still don’t think that’s enough to make him DPM. I think you are assuming that as long as internal Labour affairs are taken care of, Labour will win the next election. But to win, Labour has to reach out to the floaters who deserted (and these are people not inclined to join any party), and do so via television.

    If you look back to the 1997 election, there was an incredibly strong team, an artful mix of image and substance – Blair the middle class communicator, Brown the brain, Prescott the working man, Cook with his conscience and ethical foreign policy – there was something for everyone. This time, there is just Gordon brown – and though his shoulders are broad, I’m not sure he can carry the election on his own. He badly needs a DPM who can perform well on television (Brown’s weak point). I don’t know why people are ignoring this like it doesn’t matter. I’m unenthusiatic about the seven dwarves who’ve applied for the DPm job – surely we can do better?

  13. Jon Cruddas doesn’t want the DPM job, but that doesn’t mean that there can’t be another DPM, or appointed second-in-command within the government who could be, for example, a southern woman.

    That way Cruddas appeals to the increasingly disaffected worknig class voters who should be our core vote, speaks up for our core values in Cabinet, represents the grassroots and unions and so on, while someone else can appeal to the target middle class voters to whom you refer.

    That way Brown (assuming he wins) is balanced in two ways. There’s absolutely no reason the DL needs to be the Minister for the Nine O’clock News. How many times to you see Prescott perform that role?!

    As for Caroline Flint, our assessment of her chances of being DPM by either election or appointment is approximately zero, however appealing a figure she may be in some ways!

  14. Paul Linford says:

    Thanks for the job offer, but I can’t afford to live in Westminster any more 😉

    Somebody really should start a write-in campaign for Caroline Flint….she’d certainly get what in my student politics days we used to call “the engineering vote.”

  15. snowflake5 says:

    Blair was his own “Minister of the 9 oclock News” esp in the first six years. That’s my point – when he goes, there will be a huge gap. Also, it may be unfashionable to point this out, but Labour was put in power by the middle classes – the working classes arn’t as numerous as they were, and they tend not to vote. Labour is in danger in southern england and London, and all I’m saying is that we need someone in the Deputy position that can communicate to people in the south. As for Ms Flint – people are reflexively dismissing her because some males (particularly Lib dem males) fancy her. But I’m not sure that’s entirely a bad thing. She is effective on TV, rarely lets the presenter get the better of her, and women don’t dislike her either, despite her male fan club. Women dislike Blears though.

    But if not Ms Flint, then fine, lets have someone else who is good on TV – but none of the existing candidates pass the TV test.

  16. HenryG says:

    I think going in to the 1997 general election we had a broad range of shadow cabinet members that were already known in the public domain – Mo Mowlam, David Blunkett, Robin Cook, Frank Dobson etc. Just being good enough on TV doesn’t make you a good Minister. I get the impression that the Brownites will be lookin for substance over style to differentiate themselves from the Blairite era. The point I agree with Snowflake on is that we do need some good communicators. I don’t think it particularly matters which portfolios they hold or what office in the party they’ve been elected in, as long as they’re part of the team.

    In terms of Jon Cruddas, I think he is a good communicator for a key part of our support – though not necessarily the marginals in the shires you may have in mind Snowflake. A major point of the Cruddas campaign is to be able to as the Americans say ‘energise the base’. We need a broad coalition to win the country, and that includes core areas and regions of support. If we’re not careful we will lose what appear to be quite safe Labour seats because of low turnout from working class communties (I think Nick Brown’s new Newcastle East seat is deceptively vulnerable for example). But in the meantime we have council, assembly and scottish parliamentary elections too. The Tories followed a similar pattern in losing local councillors who are often the mainstay of local branches and associations. Some argue that the media has replaced the role of local supporters and activists, but evidence from the academics Pat Seyd and Paul Whiteley suggest they make a crucial difference come election time.

    For too long the focus has JUST been on the marginals. That can’t carry on – the party is hollowed out, the BNP are picking up council seats, our membership is ageing and trade unions feel like distant cousins. That is why I feel that we need Cruddas in there as part of the wider team. If Caroline Flint can communicate to a certain audience then great, but she doesn’t need to be Deputy PM to do that. Perhaps I’m a little old-fashioned, but I do worry if we go down the route of (s)electing the most fanciable politicians to high office.

  17. snowflake5 says:

    But why can’t Cruddas become Chair of the Party to do the “energise the base and repair the membership” job? It strikes me that he seems to be running for that job (and he would probably be very good as a party chair – much better than Blears).

    As for “selecting the most fanciable politicians” – we’re not doing that in that we are making Gordon Brown the PM – he’s big on brains and seriousness, but not so much the charm. You need someone attractive in there somewhere though and Blair filled that role for the last three elections (and you could argue that part of why the Tories slumped was they had no one attractive who could connect in that way). Whatever Blair’s faults are, he was fun.

    Brown’s speeches of late have been getting more serious and heavy than ever, and if we choose someone dull and worthy in the deputy position too, then voters are going to turn to David Cameron simply because they can’t stomach the mass of heaviness.

    We’re already going down the “serious” route in having Brown as PM – let’s not overkill and put someone worthy in the deputy position too. We can’t win if we lose seats in southern england and london (indeed we need to win england just so we put paid to the “you’ve only won because of scotland thing”).

  18. Paul Linford says:

    I agree that Cruddas is really running for Party Chair, and I think that’s the job Gordon will give him in his first reshuffle.

  19. HenryG says:

    “Whatever Blair’s faults are, he was fun”. That’s where I have to profoundly disagree with you Snowflake. When 2 million manufacturing jobs have been shed, people didn’t go home safe in the knowledge that at least our PM was fun. When BNP councillors were elected and racist violence on asylum seekers and immigrants ensued, people were not chortling. When hundreds of thousands of people were killed in Iraq, the sense of humour was lost on me and many others.

    Personally I feel that New Labour has run it’s course. It’s not New enough and not Labour enough. People are wanting some conviction and honesty. Our new alliance and coalition needs to be reconfigured, we can debate how best to do that.

  20. snowflake5 says:

    Only about 5% of the population vote BNP, 95% don’t. The election won’t be decided by BNP voters, it will be decided by middle class floaters who voted Lib Dem last election and are now drawn to Cameron because he seems a nice chap. Ms Flint will draw these people back to Labour, Cruddas won’t. She’s a female version of Cameron, only not a toff, so more authentic. And she’s an effective minister, probably more so than Harman and blears were, and Cruddas has tellingly not held a ministerial job. I think we should take the fight to Cameron and not retreat to some dwindling base.

    And attractiveness is very important in a politician – Blair was very attractive, part of Miliband’s charm is that he has a very nice smile and he’ll be an attractive PM in the future. This is the way the world works (though it seems that Labour people are too squeamish to acknowledge this!).

  21. Jo Malik says:

    Snowflake, I DON’T WANT Jon Cruddas to be Deputy Prime Minster, I want him to be Deputy Leader! There is a difference.

  22. Ian G says:

    The problem is that the party chair is appionted by, and only answerable to, the leader. Hazel Blears takes her orders from Tony Blair and nobody else.

    Now when we choose our leader we are really thinking about who has the qualities to make the best Prime Minister. I might completely disagree with Gordon Brown’s approach to internal party structures and how to get us ready for fightig the next election. I might nevertheless have to vote for him as the most credible PM.

    Therefore we need somebody else with a democratic mandate to speak for the Labour movement inside government and make the changes we desperately need.

  23. Adele says:

    Blears has actually done a relatively good job as party chair but Cruddas would make a good contrast. Both of them have labour running through them, which to me is important.

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