Sunday, April 29, 2007

Why Brown must face a Challenge – from the Right

This came up yesterday in conversation with other Labour Party activists (yes, in a pub!) and the more I think about it the more convincing the argument. Now putting aside my aversion to John McDonnell MP for the moment. I don’t think that anyone seriously believes that he or Michael Meacher will be the next Prime Minister. The Electoral College is split 1/3rd MP’s, 1/3rd Trade union levy payers and 1/3rd ordinary Party members. They will get little or no votes (never mind nominations) from Labour MPs, maybe say 10% top from individual trade unionists(the big unions are not going to support either) and I think a similar amount from ordinary members. I like Luke Akehurst's comparison of two bald men fighting over a comb. Times have changed.

What is important is that Brown would easily defeat such “left wing” candidates without sparking a real debate about post-Blairism and the future of the Party. Instead, what is needed is a challenge from the Right such as Clarke or Reid. Brown would then have to show how his politics and philosophy is different from the Right.

There has been a lot of fuss and bother about encouraging Labour MPs to nominate either McDonnell or Meacher in order to “have a debate” about the future direction of the Party (they can nominate up to 3). This is barking up the wrong tree. What we should be doing is encouraging them to nominate Clarke or Reid.


Andrew Berry said...

“To the right of Gordon Brown” has someone recruited Margaret Thatcher to the Labour Party? Brown is a Blairite take no notice of what the media say and lets not forget he responsible for the current public sector pay cut, There is no one to his right and certainly not Reid or Clarke the only reason they may stand is for there own ambition not a debate in the party as their policies are the same as brown’s. Meacher has no backing in the party grass roots so the only real way of getting a debate is getting John McDonnell on the ballot paper.

Anonymous said...

Errr, did you see the YouGov Poll in today's Timesonline, John???

If you didn't, here's a newsflash for you. Comrade - McDonnell literally crushed Clarke!

Before you say anything, I know that 9% isn't a great score, even when compared to Clarke's 5% (and in light of that fact that Brown obtained 80%), but seeing as to the fact that John suffers from relative anonimity and a almost complete media black-out,it isn't bad at all!

The truth is, that if I were a former minister like Clarke, I would be crying my eyes out in shame over having been anihilated by a virtually unknown backbencher! This proves only obe thing - that othe Party Left is on its way back! And you know it!

See you!

P.S. John also defeated Meacher, who obtained 6% of the votes cast. Altogether this puts the Left's score at 15% as opposed to Clarke's 11% (in a straight contest against Brown) and Reid's 17% (also in a straight contest against Brown)! I reckon that in a straight contest contest between McDonnell and Brown (the question, was, unsurprisingly, absent from the poll!), John's score in todays poll could easily increaee to 20%-25% - perhaps more, should he finally get proper media-coverage! Which he will once the proper campaign starts!

calgacus said...

There are no policy differences whatsoever between Blair, Brown , Clarke and Reid. Reid's more willing to play to Sun readers. That's about it.

A contest between Brown and Clarke or Reid would be pointless - all about personality.

You might also like to know that John McDonnell is ahead of Clarke in opinion polls of Labour members at 9% to Clarke's 5% - and Reid doesnt even register.

Your right wingers don't have a chance of even getting on the ballot paper.

calgacus said...

Having Reid or Clarke stand against Brown would be pointless - they have no policy differences with Brown any more than Brown does with Blair - all spin - no substance.

John McDonnell (who you claimed had no chance) is already well ahead of Clarke in the latest poll of Labour party members at 9% to Clarke's 5% . Meacher also has more support than Clarke at 6% .- and Reid doesnt even have the support of 1%.

Your right wing pipe dream is up in smoke. Maybe it's time for you to switch parties (again) and join the tories?

John Gray said...

Hi Andrew
I think (and maybe hope?) you are wrong. There is a choice between the "Taliban" and Brown. Now, fair play, Brown will probably never satisfy people like you. However, maybe, Brown will have a genuine alternative agenda which could unite the party and win the next election. Where am I wrong in my analysis of McDonnell's/Meachers chances?

Anonymous said...


In case you wonder about the post from "anonymous" (8:53pm), it was I, Mikael Duthu, who sent it.

I'm really sorry, I usually don't send things anonimously (I simply pressed the wrong button :-) )!

Thanks for letting through anyhow,


P.S. I would appreciate any comments on your part concerning what I wrote!

John Gray said...

Hi Anon (whoever you are)
Sorry, you are missing my point. You appear in one way to accept that McDonnell/Meacher will not win. The 9% is pretty near to my (and also a McDonnell supporter I was talking to) estimate of his vote. He will not pick up Meacher’s entire vote (partly because the “left” are hopelessly split and partly because of the attitude of his “supporters” who have p****d off many because of their partisan attitude and crude attacks on Meacher.

Clarke and Reid will not in all probability win, but my argument (right or wrong) is that this “real” contest will result in a real and wide ranging debate about the future of the Party.

Anonymous said...

As I said before, I am anon - sorry about that!

Now, I think you are the one who doesn't understand me. I do, as a matter of fact believe that John has a (slim) chance of winning. Simply because he stands on platform which reflects Party policy. In my other post I simply tried to remain within the frame of "realism" in order to avoid beeing branded a "dreamer" or a "naive Lefty" - or something along these lines! :-) It was wrong of me to do so as, apparently, you managed to use it against me and, in a way, to deny John any possibility of success.

I don't think that the real contest is between Brown and right-winger - where did you get that from anyhow???. That would merely be a contest between the right and the right, between tweedle-dee and tweedle dumb!

Now, as far as talibans are concerned, the onle Talibans (in the Labour Party) are Brown and his Blairite buddies/arch-enemies, given taht, as a result of their fundamentalist adherence to quasi-thatcherite policies, they entirely overlook the decision s of the Partyu Conference!

Anonymous said...

Again, sorry, for some reason my name doesn't appear on the post!

John Gray said...

Hi Mikael/Anon – “blogger” is being even more very annoying today so I sympathise with you on this “posting issue” (it took me about 5 attempts to upload the pictures for this post). I think that the point I was making was that you accepted that McNoHoper (sorry, I can’t resist it) only got 9% of the vote compared to Gordon’s 80% (your figures). I appreciate that you think that he could get 20-25% of the vote in an actual election (which means a loser). I don’t think he would get so much, but again, my argument (right or wrong) is that we need an election between the two main wings in the Party (centre and centre left). You know who I mean.

John Gray said...

Hi Calgacus
I notice the last post on your blog was April fools day! No doubt this is more of the same. Come on, respond to the politics, not attack the person (not that I am bothered). My argument (right or wrong) is that McNoHoper (I’ve just slapped my wrists)/Meacher will not win. Therefore we need a Rightwing candidate to challenge and examine Brown (who’s got 80% support apparently!). I want Labour to win the next general election.

You think the differences between Brown and the others are just down to personality clashes, which of course you are entitled to think. I don’t think so, and I look forward to finding out more about Brown in the near future.

calgacus said...

John Gray wrote "Come on, respond to the politics, not attack the person (not that I am bothered)"

In general i agree with the sentiment - but in your case its hypocrisy considering all the personal attacks you continually make on McDonnell and others.

Live by the sword, die by the sword is the phrase most appropriate here.

If you stopped your personal attacks on others, others would stop theirs on you.

John Gray wrote"Therefore we need a Rightwing candidate to challenge and examine Brown (who’s got 80% support apparently!). I want Labour to win the next general election."

How will it do that by saying it has the same policies as the tories? Brown already shares 80% of tory policies - PFIs, keeping troops in Iraq , privatised (yet state subsidised) railways etc.

Labour needs a fresh start with new policies to differentiate it from its record - not more of the same. Polls show most of the electorate (rightly) think Brown would only offer more of Blair's policies.

John Gray wrote"You think the differences between Brown and the others are just down to personality clashes, which of course you are entitled to think. I don’t think so, and I look forward to finding out more about Brown in the near future."

In that case perhaps you could tell me of two or three major policy differences between Brown on the one hand and Clarke or Reid on the other?

If you can't its probably because there aren't any.

Anonymous said...

(As a precautionary action I wrote my name down before actually typing the entry, I hope it works :-) ).

Though I think you've made your argument quite clear, I disagree with it. Having saaid that, I do not intend to disput any further. Not because I give up, but because do not wish to embark on an endless discussion, since, undoubtedly, we will disagree with each other till kingdom come! ( I have been in such situation before on other blogs and I am beginning to find it most annoying!)

No, I am afraid I do not know how you mean. I don't say this because I am ignorant of the different Party-factions or in order to provoke you into yet another argument; it's just that I have a feeling that we (you and I) label these very factions quite differently. I would be tempted to interpret your labels as referring to a Brown Vs. Meacher - but for some reason I don't think that was what you meant. I suppose that you see Brown as a centre-left (I think he is a man of Party right or centre-right at best) contender and Clarke/Reid as one of the centre (I, on my part, would classify them as an uber-Blairite right-winger, hence my argument that a contest between Brown and Clarke/Reid wouldn't be worthy of the name "contest").

P.S. I just remembered that you did you did entitle your post "... -from the right", so maybe you were referring to a Brown Vs. Meacher contest after all.

John Gray said...

Hi Calgacus
I think that if you were to examine all my posts (God forbid!) that you would find that I very rarely mention McNoHoper et al. However, I am more than willing to have a political row with anyone. I do tend to find that many on the extreme “left” do find it very difficult to cope with criticism. Which I think is down to a basic insecurity about their beliefs? Of course there are many who are very firm about their beliefs.

Since most (not all) of the Parties mentioned are suppose to be currently bound by collective responsibility then it is unlikely that you can point put current major policy differences. However, I think (maybe wrongly) that there are fundamental differences between Gordon and Reid about privatisations, tax for low paid, pensions, role and protections for trade unions, minimum wage, rights for agency workers etc.

John Gray said...

Hi Mikael
I appreciate that you are trying to be pretty straight about things. The only thing I would say is that yes, I think that Clarke and Reid are on the “Right”. No, I don’t think that Brown is in the same camp.

Andrew Berry said...

John, when your losing the argument you get obnoxious, a bit like another anonymous website, make me wonder?

John Gray said...

Hi Andrew
The "Taliban" is the nickname for Reid & the Ultra-Blairites not your lot. Come on, please point out where my analysis about JD/MM chances is wrong.

As I have said before - I don't do Anon attack blogs. (sorry folks this is an internal UNISON thingy)After all, you know I am more than happy to put my name to posts!

Anonymous said...

Hey John,

So just to set the record straight - would you put Brown in the camp of the "centre" or the "centre-Left"? If you told me that, I think I'd be pretty clear about the main argument of your analysis of ! :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi John,

A key question you need to answer is this - Do you support Brown's programme for public services or Unison's?

I can understand that some people genuinely believe that there are differences between the Brown and Blair camps, but what I find hard to understand is precisely what people think those differences are.

Do you really support Brown's policies on public services? Apart from being the architect of PFI, he has mad it clear that he has no intention of even considering anything like Unison policies.

With a choice between a Blairite and Brown, what policiy differences would we be voting over?

The policies put forward by MacDonnell on the other hand, clearly are supported by large sections of the Labour movement and if the PLP keep him off the ballot paper, a large section of the labnour movement will be completely disenfranchised in any leadership challenge. Surely, whether you like or loathe MacDonnell, he needs to be on the ballot just on basic democratic grounds.

Chris Paul said...

What is needed is a three- or four- horse race with a broad choice for the party and movement and a chance for the positive media coverage that the other parties have enjoyed.

The Coronation model denies the Party the coverage completely as the DL contest will be like watching paint dry from the media's point of view.

Tories and Lib Dems will easily deflect from that and the choice is not particularly wide with the only clear dissenter being Jon Cruddas who has history of being in the same bag as the others.

Chris Paul said...

Don't think McDonnell's crew have been that crude in attacks on Meacher who:

- Backed the war (and everything NL did)
- Reneged once sacked (so loyalty was £ driven?)
- Back conspiracy theories
- is a Land rentier with a family holding of £ millions in property for rent

For all his contributions down the years he is not a credible champion for the left and he has been lying through his teeth about the level of support he enjoys in the PLP.

John Gray said...

Hi Mikael

Label’s are funny stuff but I would personally put Brown in 2007 Labour Party terms as the “centre”. JM/MM on “Left” and Reid (Clarke?) on “Right”.

John Gray said...

Hi Simon
Good question well put. I think we all would actually support the vast majority of Brown’s programme for Public services, but not of course all of it. Brown has poured money into public services, into education and hospitals for example. Creating 100 of thousands of much needed jobs for UNISON members. I do think that Brown could be different.

Although I accept that many on the “Left” do not think so.

The real issue I think is that we are not just choosing a “pick & mix” political candidate who will promise us what ever we want in order to gain support. Rather we are trying to pick a Prime Minister who will win the next election. I would prefer there to be a “Left” candidate on democratic grounds. But for reasons already given, what we need is a challenge from the “Right”. Also, of course another “centre” candidate may emerge (doubt it - who?)?

John Gray said...

Hi Chris
Yes, there should be a proper election, however, if a “Left” Candidate cannot even muster 45 nominations (not votes – each MP can nominate up to 3 without voting for them) then you must think what a waste of time. There have been 100+ Labour MP Rebellions against this government.

As you know, I don’t mind upsetting people from time to time. So I hope you won’t mind me suggesting that there has been “crude attacks on Meacher” - calling someone “lying “(rightly or wrongly – and I suspect you are right) will not endear McDonnell to his supporters (there is a few).