She who writes the rules

There was some comment on the blogosphere about the outbreak of hostilities between sources close to Harriet Harman and her putative deputy leadership rival Hazel Blears last week. Some light might be shed on this by another article in the Evening Standard, which we reproduce below:


CASH-strapped Labour officials have ordered leadership and deputy leadership contenders to hand over some campaign funds to the party. Under new rules, all candidates for the two posts must donate 15 per cent of money they raise to central funds. Any surplus at the end of the contests must also be given to the party. Insiders say that without the levy the party will be unable to pay for the ballots.    

Organisers have also sparked controversy by saying there should be no cap on expenditure. The move has prompted fears that the deputy leadership race will be skewed in favour of candidates with well-off backers. ‘It creates an imbalance in the election,’ said one contender.

Five names have entered the deputy leadership race so far: Alan Johnson, Peter Hain, Hilary Benn, Harriet Harman and Jon Cruddas. Mr Johnson is thought to be close to securing the support of supermarket tycoon Lord Sainsbury.

Mr Hain has the backing of Shaun Woodward, another Labour multi-millionaire.

The requirement that any surplus campaign funds be donated to the Party will be of particular concern to Harman, who had already promised donors that any surplus would go to charity. Weeks after making this promise in her appeal for funds, a Code of Conduct was whisked through an NEC Organisation Sub-Committee meeting, under the eagle eye of Hazel Blears. The Code puts Harman in the tricky situation of banning her from keeping a promise she has already made. Harman’s team smell a rat, and there are other aspects of the Code of Conduct that may well also be viewed askance by those who suspect Blears of having a hand in its drafting.

Whether there is any substance to these suspicions or not, it does show the difficulty Blears will have in trying to run a shadow campaign while Party Chair. On the one hand, she is involved in drafting the rules and is refusing to say whether she is standing; on the other, her allies are spinning her candidacy in the media and signing up MPs. It threatens to leave a hint of stitch-up lying over the whole campaign – the very last thing the Party needs.

The demand for 15% of all funds to be donated to the Party will also be controversial in some quarters – some of John McDonnell’s potential donors may be reluctant to see their money swallowed up by Party HQ, for example.

As an aside, the support of Tory defector Shaun Woodward for Peter Hain may prove a double-edged sword, providing some cash and one more nomination, but painting him firmly in soft-Blairite colours rather than the more leftish image he sometimes portrays.


14 Responses to She who writes the rules

  1. Andrea says:

    “a code of conduct was whisked through an NEC organization sub-committee meeting, under the eagle eye of Hazel Blears”

    Do you know who actually sit on the NEC organization sub-committee?

  2. Adele says:

    Cruddas should b ok with all that union money.

  3. Benjamin says:

    Yeah, Hain may have the backing of Woodward, but is Woodward daft enough to hand over piles of cash to him. I doubt it.

  4. wozza says:

    if Blears and or John Reid get any sort of mandate out of the coming leadership elections goodbye New Labour, hello old Thatcher. Reid probably thinks she was too liberal for his tastes.
    The Tories will be picking up votes from the left and the senter like no-ones business.

    Nothing coming from the NEC would suprise me, especially as central party would do anything to stop the role of Party Chair becoming an accountable one again.


  5. […] From The Daily: There was some comment on the blogosphere about the outbreak of handbags between sources close to Harriet Harman and her putative deputy leadership rival Hazel Blears last week. […]

  6. Quite frankly, the Shaun Woodward thing suggests that the Hain campaign has now reached rigor mortis.

    Will the butler be called in canvass support in the trade unions?

    On the wider point, though, the 15% seems slightly at odds with the traditions of an egalitarian party – and will disproportionately benefit those leadership candidates who are more responsible for the party being in a financial mess in the first place.

  7. HenryG says:

    I really dislike Woodward and his parachuting into the party. He joined the AEEU one day before the selection contest after a political career devoted to attacking the labour party and labour movement. His arrival got a few good headlines, but really, this sums up what’s gone wrong in the party.

  8. HenryG says:

    P.S. change the handbag line. The term may be good enough for a football pundit, but I like to think we can be a bit more progressive here than Big Ron.

  9. It was only intended as analagous to a confrontation between players over perceived foul play, but perhaps was a little insensitive in the context so we’ve changed the wording.

  10. HenryG says:

    Hazel must surely declare by Christmas time if she’s going to stand for Deputy. If she does she should resign from her post as Chair. Personally I’d like her to stay as Chair and put Labour’s local, Scottish and Welsh elections ahead of her own election.

  11. “P.S. change the handbag line. The term may be good enough for a football pundit, but I like to think we can be a bit more progressive here than Big Ron.”

    If you were a bit more in touch with the world of high fashion, you’d know that men are now wearing handbags too so in fact the assertion that a reference to women MPs including the mention of handbags is sexist is, in itself, a sexist and outdated opinion which could lead to discrimination against the growing manbag community.

  12. Bizarre. Do the candidates whinging really expect to win votes by letting it be known they object to having to give 15% of their campaign funds to the Party?

  13. Unity says:

    Picking up on the comments made by Jo and HenryG, particular Jo’s query about whether the phrase would have been used in referring to a spat between Alan Johnson and Hilary Benn, the obvious counter question has to be would anyone have actually complained had the article actually been about Johnson and Benn?

    Chances are, probably no.

    I do wish some people would remember that progressive and po-faced are not the same thing!

  14. “I do wish some people would remember that progressive and po-faced are not the same thing!”

    In some cases they are. It’s important that po-faced people are recognised as valued members of the progressive community.

    In my experience po-faced and otherwise faced people often go to the same schools, eat similar meals and, in some cases, even get married.

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