Interesting piece from Peter Oborne in the Telegraph, on the unresolved tensions within Labour in the aftermath of the Blair/Brown era…
Mr Cruddas’s remarks have highlighted a rancorous and philosophically very significant dispute that has been rumbling for some time.
One camp is occupied by the three most senior members of Labour’s front bench – Ed Balls, his wife, Yvette Cooper, and the shadow foreign secretary, Douglas Alexander. All three were modernisers who occupied senior posts in the Brown/Blair government. They all absorbed the central New Labour insight that 21st-century politics should be structured around the wishes of swing voters, who tend to belong to the aspirational middle class.
Mr Cruddas, the son of an itinerant Irish sailor, hails from a very different tradition. He has long warned that the Labour Party has been – in his words – “hollowed out” by the modernisers because they took Labour’s traditional working-class constituency for granted.
I believe that Mr Cruddas is right, and that May’s European elections, which saw Ukip surge ahead in traditional Labour seats, showed the wisdom of his analysis.
So Mr Miliband has two sets of voices in his ear. The modernisers, led by Mr Balls, are urging him to adopt the same cynical but brutally effective electoral strategy that secured Tony Blair three consecutive general election victories. Meanwhile, Mr Cruddas is telling Mr Miliband to take risks, to make enemies and above all not to forget Labour’s traditional supporters.
Time is running out for the Labour leader. He has one last chance to relaunch his leadership at this autumn’s party conference, and then the election campaign will be upon him. He must make a decision – something he has avoided ever since becoming party leader – and choose between Cruddas and Balls.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty