Johnson declares

As we predicted yesterday, Alan Johnson has tipped off  journalists of his intention to stand for deputy leader and support Brown for leader, which he intends to announce on Friday and follow up with an interview with Andrew Marr on Sunday in order to maximise coverage.

More detail from the BBC.

Update: Johnson has launched a website.  Unfortunately, as Paul Linford points out, it seems that it was written when Johnson was still planning to stand for leader, and features a number of stories that sit somewhat uneasily with his newly declared loyalty to Brown. 

It seems quite extraordinary that he quotes approvingly from the Observer: “When the backstabbing finally stops, could Alan Johnson be the man who delivers the fatal blow to Brown?” let alone this excerpt from the Economist: “Gordon Brown’s enemies are pinning their hopes on Alan Johnson.”  With friends like that…

9 Responses to Johnson declares

  1. Paul Linford says:

    Does this now make Johnson the “Anyone But Cruddas” candidate, as some have speculated elsewhere?

  2. Gareth says:

    Paul’s right. Johnson can be the former trade union leader but anti trade union candidate. He is after all on record calling for an end to union involvement.

  3. HenryG says:

    Poor Alan Johnson, six weeks ago he would have been forgiven for wondering what it would actually be like in Number 10. Now he’s a Blairite spoiler candidate for the number 2 position. Would Gordon really want someone like Johnson as his deputy when he has so clearly prevaricted over challenging him? I think it would all be a bit of a disaster. I’d give it 5 or 6 weeks before you had the Times and Telegraph writing about a Johnson challenge again.

    For me the only person that is going beyond the usual snakes and ladder of ministerial ambition is Jon Cruddas. His article in the New Statesman today shows just important it is to have someone freed from ministerial burdens, red boxes and 70 hour weeks. Thanks for picking this article out on your blog Dave:

    http://www.newstatesman.com/200611130014

    Whether others see the urgency is another matter. Many of the other candidates are good ministers and play an important part of the Labour team. However I simply cannot see how the party can get in a fit state for the next election without Jon Cruddas as Deputy Leader. It’s something that has hit me relatively recently – I only met the guy for the first time in Manchester. There’s something about him and what he says and has done that chimes with the experiences of so many in the party, not to mention and the 200,000 that have left since 1997.

  4. steve says:

    HenryG – you can’t see anyone but Cruddas getting the party in a fit state? That’s a bit narrow!

    I have a perfectly good idea for reclaiming the 200,000 party members we had before – let’s have 18 years of Tory government, and a £1 a year membership fee… Like we did in order to get to 400,000 in the first place!

    One point that is never considered is this – why are all Labour members TU members, but of the 8million TU members, there are not many Labour members. The Unions ought to be working on this, I think.

  5. Nick says:

    All Labour members are clearly not TU members – as a CLP Secretary I can tell you just from a glance at the membership list that only a minority list a union. Technically there is a rule that you’re meant to be a member of a relevant TU but it’s not enforced.

    The unions certainly encourage party membership but I think that many union members would not join the Party in its current state. Unless union members (and others) feel that the Party shares their values and respects its own members it will be difficult to recruit.

    At the moment I suspect many potential members do not feel this, which I think is the problem that HenryG is suggesting that Jon Cruddas is trying to address.

  6. HenryG says:

    Steve, having seen Ministers age before my eyes with the pressures of office, it’s no wonder they’re now a little removed from the party and wider society. Add the huge time constraints they’d have for reengergising and reforming that party, I believe that it’s the right time for a Deputy Leader outside of the Minsterial circle. Now that doesn’t have to just be Jon Cruddas, people like John Denham are thoughtful and engaging backbench politicians too. But I think what Cruddas offers is a commitment to poltiically fuse the connections between the members and affiliates to the leadership in a way that clearly hasn’t happened yet.

    Perhaps one reason why it’s so hard to get trade unionists to join the party is that they have been treated by the leadership like some kind of awkward, older relative. When the PM boasts of our European opt-outs and the fact that we have some of the lightest of labour laws, it’s no wonder that trade unionists are not joining. The majority of members who attend my local union branch meeting are no longer Labour Party members. As the other story on The Daily suggests, trade unionists can make a critical difference in a tight election. Jon C’s record and reputation with trade union is strong and I think he could bring people together in a way that others couldn’t.

    I hope this explains my thinking and doesn’t seem too narrow. In different times it wouldn’t matter a jot, but the next election is going to be so close to call that we need everything we can muster. Lots of the other candidates are good ministers, some really good, but if someone but Jon Cruddas does win Deputy Leadership, I fear it will be an opportunity lost.

  7. Ian G says:

    Indeed, issues like the privatisation of NHS services and the fourth option debate over council housing seem almost designed to offend trade unionsts.

    The government has hardly been enthusiastic in going about the implimentation of the Warwick agreement either.

    Is any deputy-leadership candidate other than Cruddas actually offering any solutions to the difficulties our party is facing? More of the same will not do.

  8. “One point that is never considered is this – why are all Labour members TU members, but of the 8million TU members, there are not many Labour members.”

    Ask Nick says, whatever the theory, this statement is someway off the mark in terms of the reality.

    I don’t know if there are any figures but, from my experience, I’d be surprised if the majority of Labour members were union members.

    I was in a union when I worked in a unionised industry but now that I’m a director of the company I work for, I haven’t got my head round concept of organising to negotiate with myself. I’ve considered striking against myself but I always reach an agreement with myself at the crucial moment.

    I don’t think Johnson’s going to win.

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