The other day, the pamphlet of election addresses for Labour’s Deputy Leader dropped through my letter box. Regular readers will know that I am not a Labour Party member and my union is not affiliated, both of us expelled for preferring socialist candidates in elections to Blairites. But I am a member of another affiliated organisation, the Labour Camapign for Lesbian and Gay Rights – so I get my voting paper.
Calm down, any witch-hunters out there: I shan’t be casting a vote. There’s not one of the six who deserves my cross on the ballot paper.
Once upon a time, there was a ‘Benn for Deputy’ campaign well worth supporting. But that was in 1981, and it was Tony not Hilary. Benn Junior is a New Labour man, and has previously stated explicitly, “I am a Benn, not a Bennite”. So why have several ‘left’ Labour MPs – such as Jeremy Corbyn, Alan Simpson and Katy Clark – nominated him? Desperation, perhaps. Or maybe Benn Senior has been in their ear.
Jon Cruddas? Lots of the usual stuff about listening to the members. Jon, apparently, understands the concerns and frustrations of party members on issues including Iraq and commercialisation of public services. Understands, maybe – but agrees, no, not according to his voting record anyway.
Also pitching feebly to the left is Peter Hain, yet again wheeling out his anti-apartheid and anti-nazi credentials from a generation ago. He also wants to listen, and has progressive values, apparently. No mention of socialism, of course – in fact, the ‘S’ word doesn’t appear once in the whole booklet.
Hain describes the Deputy Leader’s job as “the umbilical cord between members and the Cabinet”. An umbilical cord sustains a foetus from its mother’s nutrients until it is big and developed enough to be born and live totally independently. So it’s a very accurate phrase, since the Cabinet, nurtured into place by Party members, has long since been born, become independent, then turned round and whacked its long-suffering parent in the face.
Harriet Harman. Supporting affiliated organisations: none. But rest assured, Harriet will let it be known when Labour is getting it wrong: she will tell Gordon Brown “privately”. Great – so all that stuff about involving the members is just, erm, nonsense then.
Alan Johnson’s spiel tells us that he is supported by the CWU. Obviously (and conveniently), the booklet went to print in the short space in between the CWU Executive backing him and CWU conference overturning that decision. Let’s hope the CWU has written to all its members pointing out this change, otherwise they may just get the wrong impression.
Why any union would want to back someone who supports privatisation, has attacked workers’ pensions and is now cutting their pay is beyond me. I can only imagine that Brother Billy Not-Very-Awkward Hayes takes the view that Johnson may be an anti-working-class scumbag, but he’s our anti-working-class scumbag. Crap argument, of course.
Hazel Blears tells us, “My dad was a shop steward, my mum was a secretary, and my brother drives a bus.” Yeah, and you’re a Blairite. It’s not your dad, you mum or your brother that’s standing, is it?!
Alongside other inanities, she also tells us that “What matters is what you do, not what you say” – which makes you wonder why she bothered writing an election address at all. Actually, it matters what you do and what you say, but if you’d said the sort of things that Hazel has, you wouldn’t want to draw attention to it either.