Posts Tagged ‘Jon Cruddas’

Only when voters in places like Hazel Grove identify with Labour will we be competitive again

25/05/2016, 09:27:24 PM

In a series of posts, Uncut writers look at the constituencies featured in Labour’s Identity Crisis, England and the Politics of Patriotism. Here, David Ward gives his view on Hazel Grove

Tristram Hunt opens Labour’s identity crisis with Shakespeare in full voice proclaiming the virtues of ‘This Sceptred Isle’. Yet when I think of a childhood spent around Romiley, Bredbury, Marple and the other towns which make up the Hazel Grove constituency I think more of Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, “Sleeping the deep, deep sleep of England.”

Sandwiched between the more traditional Labour communities of Stalybridge and Hyde to the north, and true blue Macclesfield to the South, this is the kind of place Labour needs to win if a majority is to be achievable without Scotland.

As Michael Taylor writes in the book, while this is an area with a large number of ‘professionals’ and often derided as ‘leafy Cheshire’ the truth is more complex. A truth that sees social housing or “blokes in white vans” as much a part of the local makeup as chartered engineers and solicitors. I used to get a lift to school with a barrister’s son from Bredbury who went on to fight with the Royal Marine Commandos in Afghanistan. I wouldn’t try telling him being English doesn’t matter.

Winning here might seem like a tough ask when this has been either Liberal or Conservative territory as long as anyone can remember. But the collapse of the Liberal Democrats offers an opening in area where people want pragmatism with a dose of progress.

One of my earliest political memories was Margaret Thatcher stopping in on our primary school during a visit to Marple Bridge. Some guy tried to hit her over the head with a bunch of flowers in Marple town centre, which perhaps neatly encapsulates the peculiar English rebelliousness Michael describes.

Dig deep enough and Labour should have the intellectual heft to speak to constituencies like this. Whether it’s concerns about congestion and road upgrades, or showing a Labour Mayor can improve Stepping Hill hospital.

Identity can seem a word ill associated with the left but it doesn’t have to be. I recall my friend’s dad enthusing about the virtues of Michael Heseltine at his house in Romiley. He liked him because he was the kind of guy who ‘had his head screwed on’, but he showed he cared about people in the North West and wanted to improve our lot. He identified with him. Maybe that’s the trick we’ve got to pull off.

David Ward is a Labour campaigner in south London

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Until Labour addresses the toxic trio – immigration, welfare and economic trust – it will never win again

24/05/2016, 06:14:39 PM

by Kevin Meagher

You’ve probably heard Labour politicians concede there’s a ‘perception’ that immigration is a problem and respond by saying that ‘people are not racist for being concerned about the issue’.

These are the two weaselling formulations trotted out time and again to body swerve the issue that looms large in the concerns of electors – particularly those who still vote Labour – and millions more who the party needs to win back if it ever has a hope of governing again.

Yet Labour is not serious – not at all – in trying to meet the public’s expectations. There is no concession that mass immigration has indeed been damaging for many communities and groups of workers, (albeit largely positive for the urban middle-class). Behind the platitudes – the obfuscations – the real view is clear: Immigration is an objective good. There are no downsides. You are a fool or a racist if you think there are.

Enter Jon Cruddas. The Dagenham MP and sometime policy chief to Ed Miliband, has launched a new report, Labour’s Future, Why Labour Lost in 2015 and How it Can Win Again. It argues the party needs to: ‘…stop patronising socially conservative Ukip voters and recognise the ways in which Ukip appeals to former Labour voters…’

Devastatingly, Cruddas – a former academic and not much given to hyperbole – adds: ‘Labour is becoming a toxic brand. It is perceived by voters as a party that supports an ‘open door’ approach to immigration, lacks credibility on the economy, and is a “soft touch” on welfare spending.’

‘A toxic brand’. My, how we sneer at the Tories’ lack of electoral success in the north, yet as the report points out, 43% of voters in the south said they would never vote Labour (the same figure for voters in the north who would never vote Conservative). (more…)

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Labour needs to get local

12/02/2014, 07:00:29 AM

by Richard Watts

Today Jon Cruddas is set to speak to the New Local Government Network on what could be the answer to the key political question for Labour: how can we change the lives of people in this country with far less money than the last Labour government spent?

All political parties talk a good game on localism in opposition, but haven’t delivered in government. It was one of my criticisms of the last Labour government, and while David Cameron and Eric Pickles have talked about ‘giving power back to the people’ the reality has been a disastrous local government legacy that has seen real term budgets slashed and services up and down the country hanging by a thread. At the same time, ministers like Michael Gove have centralised power in Whitehall at a speed that would have Lenin nodding with approval.

But this time, even if Labour return to power in 2015, things for local government will be very different.  By 2015 my council will have lost over £100 million a year of funding; that’s around 40 percent of our budget. Funding isn’t likely to return to pre-2010 levels and borough’s like mine are being faced with two undeniable trends, a rising demand for services and shrinking budgets. Westminster politicians need to wake up to the fact that council budgets will fall off a cliff in 2015 and 2016 without a change in the way local government is funded.

However Britain wastes public money by spending far too much of it on managing problems through top-down national initiatives that smarter investment could have avoided.


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How will Cameron respond to One Nation Labour?

05/10/2012, 11:38:36 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Damian McBride is right. Jon Cruddas is too. Even Phillip Blond is.

This amounts to a triumvirate of correctness trapping David Cameron. Precisely the position – as demonstrated by seizing the leadership initiative from David Davis with his no notes performance at Conservative Party conference in 2005, his party’s proposed cut to inheritance tax on the eve of the election that never was in 2007 and his snatching of victory from the jaws of defeat by forming a multi-party government in 2010 – from which he is most dangerous.

McBride has picked up a valuable insight from Gordon Brown, who told him in 2004:

“I’ve already had seven years. Once you’ve had seven years, the public start getting sick of you. You’ve got seven years when you’ve got a chance to get people on board, but after that, you’re on the down slope. I’ve tried not to be too exposed, but it’s still seven years. The only chance was getting in next year before the election. Tony knows that. Every year that goes by, the public are going to say: ‘Not that guy Brown, we’re tired of him – give us someone new.’”

McBride goes on:

“Why does any of this matter today? Well, next Wednesday marks seven years since David Cameron’s ‘speech without notes’ at the 2005 Tory conference, so we will soon get a chance to test the theory again. Cameron obviously hasn’t been PM for all of that time, but he was the most over-exposed opposition leader in history, and has undoubtedly been front line in the public consciousness for 7 years.”

Cruddas has reviewed Britain Unchained, a new book by rising Tory stars, and finds it a revealing take on the party that Cameron now leads:

“Scratch off the veneer and all is revealed: a destructive economic liberalism that threatens the foundations of modern conservatism … It is because this faction is in the ascendancy that Cameron is actually failing; he remains captive to an economic reductionism that could well destroy conservatism – in the proper sense of valuing and conserving the nature and assorted institutions of the country.”

It is this embrace of economic liberalism that has so disappointed Blond, one of the architects of the compassionate conservatism that was the intellectual mooring to Cameron’s years as “the most over-exposed opposition leader in history”. Blond moans of Cameron:

“His failure to maintain a coherent new vision has led to spasmodic appeals to vague progressive notions that have further alienated his own base and suggested that the PM is not a master of his own beliefs … Cameron’s thinking is now out of step with public demands and economic reality. People desperately want a new economic and social settlement. But nothing is on offer from the right, so the left has moved into the vacuum.”

The power of Ed Miliband’s audacious one nation pitch resides in capturing the ground that Blond chides Cameron for abandoning.


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What we talk about when we talk about Tony

26/06/2012, 07:00:52 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Labour’s new policy supremo, Jon Cruddas, says that Tony Blair got worse the longer he was prime minister. Phil Collins, the Demos chair, not the Genesis drummer, says the opposite: Blair improved in office.

According to a speech that Cruddas delivered shortly before his appointment by Ed Miliband:

“From 1994 to 2001 Blair managed to build a liberal patriotic sentiment in the country; it subsequently collapsed. Blair set out as ethical socialist, ended as a neo-classicist.”

It all went wrong, on this account, when Cruddas stopped working for Blair. Collins disagrees. He thinks that Blair was a better prime minister by the time he was working for him at the end of his premiership.

When reviewing Anthony Seldon’s biography of Blair, Collins wrote:

“There is a common account of the Blair years that runs as follows: the first term contained some good things, hampered by excessive financial prudence; the second term was lost to Iraq; the third term was no more than a parade of vanity as a prime minister without authority hung on. This is conventional but a long way from wise … The second term was when Blair really found a method for reform of the public sector … The third term was, in many ways, the most fruitful: school reform, the NHS into surplus, pensions reform, energy, Northern Ireland – a good record for a supposedly defunct term.”

The man writing the next Labour manifesto has, therefore, succumbed to the conventional and un-wise. Perhaps this is a consequence of seeing politics, as Cruddas said in his speech, “more about emotion than programme; more groups, community and association – imagined as well as real – rather than theoretical or scientific”.

What Collins might praise as an effective method for public service reform, Cruddas may lament as a politics denuded of emotion. But when these judgements are made, they aren’t fundamentally judgements on Blair. They are windows onto the political soul of the judge.

What we talk about when we talk about Tony isn’t really Tony: it is political strategy.


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George Lansbury: the unsung father of blue Labour

08/05/2011, 09:57:43 AM

Below we reproduce Jon Cruddas’ speech at George Lansbury’s recent plaque unveiling, with Angela Lansbury, in Bow.

by Jon Cruddas

Thank you very much. It is great to be with you all this afternoon. We are here to celebrate the life of one of the true heroes of the Labour party: George Lansbury. A man who was – to quote the great historian AJP Taylor – “the most lovable figure in British politics”.

We as a party are really only beginning to understand the true significance of the man and of his leadership of the party; a process of rehabilitation is underway yet is far from complete.

I think of Lansbury as arguably the greatest ever Labour leader. Not in an empirical sense in terms of elections won – he never faced the electorate in a general election as our leader.

Raymond Postgate wrote after George had resigned – and two weeks later an election was called – that “now they had lost their only popular leader, it was enough to wreck the labour men’s hopes of a victory”.

Irrespective of this, to have a third Labour government in 1945, or Wilson’s and Callaghan’s governments of the 60s and 70s – or Blair and Brown’s of more recent years – you had to have a party for them  to inherit and subsequently lead; indeed from which to govern.

This is part of Lansbury’s legacy – to quote George Thomas

“He not only saved the soul of the party, he saved the party. We could have sunk into oblivion and the Liberals could have been reborn”.


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The odd couple: Blears and Cruddas join forces to fight Cameron

29/11/2010, 09:00:20 AM

Hazel Blears and Jon Cruddas are joining forces to wrest the “big society” from the Tories. The two senior back benchers have established the “social action forum”, a committee of MPs and stakeholders tasked with taking the fight to David Cameron over his flagship policy.

The inaugural meeting will take place in the House of Commons this Wednesday, with Ms Blears expected to be elected chair of the new grouping. The Labour leadership has been consulted over the formation of the committee, and has given it the seal of approval, including authorisation to extend membership to representatives beyond the PLP.

Speaking at Saturday’s Labour policy forum, Ed Miliband urged the party to “take back” the big society from the government. “It sticks in our throat when David Cameron tries to claim he’s the man for the big society because he has an old fashioned view about the big society. His is essentially a view that says look, if government gets out of the way then society will prosper. None of us believe that”, he told delegates.

“We were slow off the mark in appreciating the dangers of the big society agenda”, Hazel Blears told Uncut.

“It’s more than just a cynical cover for cuts. It’s a much more fundamental realignment of public services, and of Tory politics. This is a very clever piece of rebranding. If you have a big society that says to your right wing ‘you can have a smaller state’, it’s nice blue meat to them. But it also says to the Liberals, “what we want is more people being involved. There is such a thing as society”. So what it does in one easy way, in just two words, is continue that detoxification of their brand which was a key foundation of them getting into power. And now is part of the realignment of politics. It’s a very big strategy”.

She concedes that Jon Cruddas and herself represent unlikely political soul mates, but believes this will add political ballast to the committee.

“One of the best bits of the last six months for me is discovering that Jon and I have got far more in common than a lot of people might have thought. We’ve always chatted and talked, but when you come to think about it we come from a similar background. Ordinary families, represent similar working class constituencies, he has a very strong family background, so do I, and were both Labour, Labour, Labour. It will confound some people, but we’ve increasingly discovered when we talked, and we talked at length, is that wherever you are on the party’s spectrum there are some issues that transcend where people would traditionally place themselves”.

Hazel Blears’ first major political interview since resigning from the Brown government will appear on Uncut tomorrow.

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Thursday News Review

26/08/2010, 08:24:39 AM

Feuding brothers

“It was always an ambitious hope. Two loving brothers would maintain warm relations even as they both challenged for one of the greatest prizes in British politics. But the seemingly friendly contest between the two Milibands for the Labour leadership has come to an abrupt halt as the sons of one of Britain’s greatest Marxist thinkers turned their fire on each other.” – The Guardian

“The mother of Labour leadership contenders David and Ed Miliband is ‘upset’ that their relationship has been damaged as the feud between the brothers erupted into open warfare yesterday. A Labour activist who knows the family said: ‘Marion is finding it all very difficult. They have been a close family for years and now she is concerned that their relationship will never be the same again.” – The Daily Mail

Clegg forced onto the defensive

The hard-hitting conclusion from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) did not take into account moves to get people off benefits and into work, the Deputy Prime Minister said.  IFS, Britain’s leading economic think-tank, calculates that the poor will be disproportionately hit by the measures, which include tax rises and benefits cuts. Tory and Liberal Democrat ministers have claimed that other changes, including an upcoming £1000 rise on the point at which income tax is paid, will protect the poorest in society.  But this was clearly undermined by the IFS analysis, which suggested that the most disadvantaged would still be worst off, bearing more of the brunt of the cuts than the wealthy. Yesterday the Liberal Democrat leader attacked the figures as partial.” – The Herald Scotland

Cruddas backs Miliband Senior

“Our party has such talent and energy. We can no longer be divided against ourselves. Together, we can kick the coalition out of office and develop a new agenda, with proposals for a living wage, union representatives on company boards, new social housing and investment in green jobs. This is why I’m supporting David Miliband’s campaign. He has the patience, the strength and the convictions to get the public listening to us. He can lead a credible opposition and build a party that is united for the first time in a decade.” – Jon Cruddas, The Mirror

Scargill gets the boot

“Former miners’ leader Arthur Scargill has been told he is being expelled from the National Union of Mineworkers. Mr Scargill, who led the union through a bitter, year-long strike over pit closures in the 1980s, is among a number of people who have received letters saying they no longer qualify for membership. Mr Scargill, the union’s former president, has told friends he intends to fight the move. He retained an honorary position within the NUM after standing down as a full-time official and has been engaged in work for the union.” – The Press Association

Cameron reveals name

“David Cameron’s new-born daughter is to be named Florence Rose Endellion, Downing Street has revealed. The baby was born by caesarean section, weighing 6lb 1oz, on Tuesday while the prime minister and wife Samantha were on holiday in Cornwall. St Endellion is a village in the north of the county.” –

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An elected party chair mustn’t become the plaything of MPs, says Joanne Milligan

06/08/2010, 12:30:45 PM

Many weeks ago, Labour leadership contender David Miliband proposed an election for the role of party chair as a step towards ensuring that there’s a voice for party members at the shadow cabinet table.

Discussion of the idea then escalated following a Jon Cruddas’s speech to the Labour Friends of Searchlight’s Organising to Win conference in which he declared that he would put himself forward for the post.

Subsequently, both national executive committee (NEC) member Peter Kenyon and NEC candidate Luke Akehurst took to the blogosphere to offer their views. A little surprisingly – for me anyway – I find more common ground with Peter than Luke on this issue (don’t worry Luke – that doesn’t mean you’ve lost my vote). (more…)

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The Messiah is too busy prepping for Paxman, says Dan Hodges

10/06/2010, 08:45:33 AM

In Monty Python’s Life of Brian there is a famous scene in which Graham Chapman, pursued by a mob convinced it has found the new Messiah, turns on his tormentors and beseeches them: “You don’t need a Messiah. You don’t need anyone. You’ve got to work it out for yourselves”.

“Yes”, they reply in unison, “we’ve got to work it out for ourselves…tell us more!”

The desperation with which the Labour party is begging senior MPs to furnish it with “a proper leadership debate” has become Pythonesque.  “Bestow a debate on us”, we cry. “Empower us.” (more…)

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