Nulabour nu leader?

Or just another maverick?

Change? Perhaps not!Change? Perhaps not!
Jon Cruddas, (see right) now he's a bit of a laugh. It seems after umpteen years' membership of Nulabour he's spotted there's a bit of a problem, where's he been these last few years and what has he been doing to have missed the obvious? Cruddas was elected to parliament in 2001 and being the sort of chap he is, was no doubt a party member even in the days when his bike had stabilisers. His whole life and that of his family have been dominated by Nulabour, perhaps for him there is no life outside the bubble.

He is the man who does not want, so he says, to be the leader of his party. To underline this he keeps on saying it. And when he's not saying it directly he sort of drops hints about it. Cruddas is like so many of the Nulabour folk who do not want to make waves, yet he finds the time to write articles for the Guardian on this very subject, is that funny or what? So is the timing of his latest offering significant? The Nulabour party conference is just around the corner. No! It's just one of those things, how febrile the media is! In fact Cruddas gives a lot of interviews for a man with no ambitions, both he and the press seem to like this.

Who will replace Gordon Brown has become the standing question in UK politics. It seems a simple question but look out. Cruddas is a complicated sort of chap, that is if you had him in mind for the job. He appears to be popular within the party but then so was David Miliband a year ago! Take a look at his House of Commons' voting record and you will see a strategic mix of moderately in favour of this or that and also moderately against that. This should allow him to slip away from anything nasty that comes along; he clearly learned a great deal from watching Tony Blair!

So what are the problems? Well they do say he sends his son to a school even posher than the one the Blairs selected for their children. And as he's only ever been moderately for or against anything, nor taken any of the ministerial jobs offered, he probably assumes he's not damaged by the party meltdown. But that might not be as watertight a defence as it appears, for even by Nulabour standards he's done nothing of note. After a first degree he went on to a Ph.D. its title being -

An analysis of value theory, the sphere of production and contemporary approaches to the re-organisation of workplace relations -

It is a moot point if this out-ranks Ed Balls and his -

Post neoclassical endogenous growth theory -

Being the MP for Dagenham, Cruddas has discovered the BNP, this has done him no harm at all, as yet. But it would be well to remember Hazel Blears. By contrast to Cruddas she played along and had several Ministerial 'jobs', she also trilled and obsessed about the BNP. This was wearing as she largely missed the point and served more as a recruiting sergeant; will Cruddas do the same? He has, we are told, been spending some of his time on the 'Hope Not Hate' campaign; typical of Cruddas, his all things to all people approach, the moderately this and moderately that thing again.

The Total oil refinery workers strike at Lindsey was another example when Gordon Brown lifted the 'British jobs for British workers' cry directly from the BNP, much to the fury and disgust of many. While Peter Mandelson was sour and dismissive towards the strikers, Cruddas was supportive. All well and good but for the Hope Not Hate campaign, one look at the website confirms that 'fight the BNP' might mean just that with 'hearts and minds' a follow up strategy. The UK trade unions were wholly wrong footed and confused by the wider implications of this strike, was Cruddas too?

Trawl through the interviews given by Cruddas and you will see cases of the BNP referred to, by the journalist, as a far right party. We may assume that Cruddas either let this pass in the published version or failed to spot it. This is odd as Cruddas hints that the BNP take votes from Nulabour, so what in his mind is the political location of the BNP, is it left or right? The old phrase 'know your enemy' springs to mind.

There are many mavericks in Nulabour, they are hitched in some way to the party, it fails to meet their high standards, but they remain. There is a long tradition of this, Tony Benn, Frank Field and Claire Short for example. All stay and none are able to confront the notion that the noble whinge achieves nothing; apart from a stream of media interviews that is. Cruddas could well be the next long-term resident of this territory. So what of the leadership ambitions? We should remember the Irishman who offered advice on directions: “I wouldn't start out from here”. That's the problem with the no man's land of the noble whingers, it's the wrong place to set out from and launch a leadership bid, but ideal as a base to reach out to the media. Expect more of the same.