There a very few things in politics that are genuinely dangerous. A cover up perhaps. Or a blatant lie. But these are things that politicians do to themselves. They are mistakes that are sown and reaped. They can be avoided.
Sometimes opponents have attributes that are dangerous. A winning smile. A way with words. The common touch. Flair. But there’s one attribute in opponents that politicians should fear above all.
Not giving a toss.
That’s something Jon Cruddas has in spades, as he made abundantly clear in his interview with the Observer on Sunday. If he thinks Ed Miliband isn’t serious about changing the country, he’ll walk away. Not in a fit of temper (I hope), but because he’s not interested in jobs or the other baubles that so often seem to interest politicians. He has persistently turned down the opportunity to enter the ministerial and shadow ministerial ranks. He decided against running for Labour leader, balking at the idea he might become Prime Minister.
And perhaps surprisingly for a politician married to a politician, Cruddas has the much sought after “hinterland”. Take him out of the Westminster bubble and he’ll go fishing, or live in the house he’s building on the West coast of Ireland. That’s quite a contrast with most modern politicians, who look like they’d be unable to breathe outside of the rarified wood panelled confines of SW1.
So why does this make Cruddas dangerous?
Because he will feel free to say what he wants and not worry about the consequences. He can upset the Daily Mail and won’t give a toss. He can challenge the party, and won’t be scared of the backlash.
In years gone by, politics had no shortage of people who didn’t give a toss, who just wanted to get things done, who put aside personal ambition for party and public. Wise old heads, on their way down from their peak, would take the brickbats and accept the knocks to get things done. Now only a few (Ken Clarke springs to mind) are willing to take on that role. Despite being nowhere near the end of his career, Jon Cruddas has effectively taken on that role anyway.
He has chosen to be dangerous.
Good on him.