Jon Cruddas is back – about bloody time

17th May, 2012 9:46 am

A couple of days after Ed Miliband was announced leader of the Labour party in 2010, I ran into Jon Cruddas at a conference event. He was despondent.

A hostile reception at a Compass event, for backing David over Ed, had fed into a general feeling that Labour would continue to ignore his calls to think more about belonging, neighbourliness and community.

While there were several reasons why he backed the elder brother over the younger, some personal and some political, both Jon and Ed had mutual friends who have tried hard to bring them together (as late as December last year one close source said: ‘they still can’t stand each other, sadly‘).

So Jon Cruddas’ return to the Westminster fold was long-awaited and is, from my perspective, very welcome. I have three points to make too:

One: His comeback highlights Ed Miliband’s extraordinary ability to keep the Labour party united and give different groupings the space to breathe. Remember that most Westminster commentators predicted Labour would ‘tear itself apart’ after losing the election, as was tradition. Don’t underestimate the tightrope Ed has had to walk over the last two years.

Two: I suspect Jon Cruddas will eventually become chair of the Labour party, for reasons he outlined in 2010:

Standing at the count for my seat in Dagenham almost two weeks ago, I watched as Labour won both parliamentary seats in a borough targeted by the BNP. The council elections saw the BNP wiped out in a borough where they had high hopes. I also saw results come in from Oxford East, Blackburn, seats in Birmingham, and stunning local election results in places like Camden and Islington on the Friday.

Those results, in an election that was supposed to deliver a hammer blow to the Labour party, made me more determined than ever to help create a national party rooted in the culture of organising that these local examples signify. Refocusing the party machine, turning the party outwards to the communities we seek to represent, rebuilding our internal democracy and ending the stranglehold of unelected officials are urgent and immediate tasks.

Ed Miliband’s recent speech to Progress signed up to this agenda. And Movement4Change – the group that David Miliband created but hasn’t built the necessary momentum within the party – now has a potential figurehead.

Three: Jon Cruddas should be pleased that while Ed Miliband hasn’t gone as far as he would like on community, belonging and the English Question, he is willing to explore that agenda. Expact a focus on that in the policy review.

And Ed Miliband should be pleased with having Cruddas back too – he is an outrider who genuinely wants to renew the party rather than produce policy for triangulation.

Fourth: Lefties should be pleased too. Cruddas said straight after the election:

An ex minister wrote last week of how we needed to ‘crack down on the welfare underclass’. Others argue for us to become the ‘anti immigration party’. A new kiss up, kick down politics that blames the victim.

There lies political death for labour.

No language, no warmth no kindness; no generosity, vitality nor optimism. No compassion. If you seek to outflank the coalition from the right, you will turn Labour into a byword for intolerance. But worse, you will fly in the face of what the public well knows – about who needs to pick up the tab for the crisis.

There’s something absurd – there’s no other word – about coming out of the crash and picking not on Bob Diamond, or Fred The Shred, or Philip Green, but people on welfare and struggling migrants.

If Labour becomes the voice for this sour, shrill hopeless politics it will die. And it will deserve to.

The only people who should be scared are the Conservatives, who have laughably called this a ‘lurch to the left’. As with underestimating Ed, making the same mistake with Jon Cruddas is likely to prove as costly.

  • AlanGiles

    “While there were several reasons why he backed the elder brother over the younger, some personal and some political, both Jon and Ed had mutual friends who have tried hard to bring them together (as late as December last year one close source said: ‘they still can’t stand each other, sadly‘).”

    From the cited source “personal”

    ““The half an hour meeting went downhill from there. Cruddas was sullen and belligerent to the point of rudeness; Ed was quiet, reserved and unwilling to engage. “It was an unmitigated disaster”, said Lawson.”

    I begin to think Ed must be a masochist. So he brings in another tempramental prima-donna, who will get beligerent if he doesn’t get his own way, and will probably resign. You almost get the sense that this will be sooner rather than later – JC seems to be a man who likes to think rather than  participate.

    We have been there before with Mandelson,  and Cameron experiences it with Duncan-Smith who threatens or promises (delete whichever not applicable) to resign each time any question is raised over his remit or budget.

    As for your point 4: I wonder how he squares his distaste with his endorsement of James Purnell’s introduction of Freud.

    I get the feeling Jon is all things to all men, when it suits him

    * Claude Thornhill (1908-1965)

    • treborc1

      To me it’s the idea that the last thirteen years will be wiped away because Ed is going to take the party down this magic route to the left. Miliband has stated he thinks Welfare reforms did not go far enough or fast enough, and labour has to look at this.

      Cruddas voted against Welfare reforms, nope once upon a time Cruddas was seen as a leader of the party, now he is a sticking plaster for Ed to get the left  under control, problem is Cruddas will walk away if he thinks Miliband is using him, and Miliband is.

      Labour we are told is in the middle not to the right not to the left, this is supposed to be his way of controlling the factions, well the factions are working to get rid of him I have no doubt.

      • John Reid

        Maybe some of the unions who Ed realsises he needs their money want him out or to swing to the left, But the Unions in that case haven’t got anyone to replace him with the Fabians have mixed views on cruddas,what do they think of blue labour?

      • ROB SHEFFIELD

        “because Ed is going to take the party down this magic route to the left”

        er. no he won’t !

        We don’t want another 1983 on our hands.

        • treborc1

          Not another 1983, well did you not have one in 12010

  • Duncan

    I’ve never made a secret of not being a Cruddas fan, but I agree with most of the sentiments above – it is certainly better than having some sort of Liam Byrne-like character overseeing the policy review.

    BUT what is this role and how does it relate to our internal democratic procedures?  Where do members fit into this picture?

  • Bobneil23

    I didn’t know Labourlist was open for non-Labour people?

    • Chilbaldi

      especially Lib Dems

      • http://twitter.com/gonzozzz dave stone

        And Tories.

        • Chilbaldi

          who those who flip through all 3 parties, picking a different one for every election.

          Which one will it be next I wonder? UKIP?

        • ROB SHEFFIELD

          And Trots

          • Leon

            I had the trots once. I was in and out of bed for a week.

          • treborc1

             We can be like that.

    • Brumanuensis

      Sunny Hundal is a member of the Labour Party.

  • Ian Stewart

    This could  potentially be Ed Milibands best appointment yet – so long as Cruddas can prove that he has the appetite to discharge his duties responsibly. Cruddas has been a consistent advocate of policies that aim to create a fairer, more equal society, he has also shown an identification with those people who’s votes we lost between 2001 and 2010.

  • Martin Heneghan

    The Labour Party, like all politcal parties in the UK, is a broad church. The left consists of working class followers who want the party to be tough on crime, since they are usually the victims of it. They want a party that is robust with immigration as they are likely to feel it drives down their wages and they want a protectionist trade policy with Europe and the rest of the world as they fear that free trade may cost them their job, like the Bombardier deal in Derby. However, there is also the liberal metropolitan left of the party. The liberal left is likely to prefer rehabilitation for offenders as prison is seen to not work. The metropolitan left benefits from immigration, both because it is an economic neccessity but also because of wider benefits of a cosmopolitan city. This branch of left wing politics is likely to be pro-EU and as a consumer also benefits from free trade.

    Creating a policy programme that competes with these two visions of what being on the left of politics is about, is extremely difficult. Particularly given the binary nature of the policy preferences outlined above. This is why the appointment of Jon Cruddas is so exciting as he offers the potential to marry the two competing visions on the left. Ed Miliband belongs to the liberal metropolitan left, much needed to attract disaffected Liberal Democrats. Cruddas has a deep understanding of Labour’s traditional core support, long taken for granted at Labour’s peril. The appointment of Cruddas was an important step in creating a Labour Party fit for the 21st century.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=502913608 Leon Green

    Think this could prove to be one the best moves Ed M has done as leader….

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  • Ryszard

    Is this the same Jon Cruddas who, after such a promising start, ended up backing the loathsamely rightwing Lord Glasman and “Blue Labour”, with specific references to ‘tackling immigration’.

    I think we should be told.

    • treborc1

       Do you not back stopping this influx into the country then, I do not mind the poor coming to the UK for a better life, but now we have the bloody rich being allowed in.

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