Saturday, May 27, 2006
Harman and the Brownites get desperate
Harriet Harman has declared that the next Labour Deputy leader must be a woman. She has made similar calls before so I don't think this is motivated by a desire to avoid a repeat of John Prescott's recent affairs. But in view of her past hints that she will run for the Deputy Leadership it's pretty clear which woman she has in mind. Since so many in Not So Very New Labour take Old Man Brown's succession to the leadership for granted one must wonder if she's concerned as much with gender balance (apparently not - according to Labour Watch she's calling for there to be two deputies but only with a minimum of one female, not one of each) as with political imbalance. There are few obvious non-Brownite women who would be strong candidates otherwise, but many men. Harman would be hopeless (some might say I could stop the sentence right there - remember when she didn't know who her own Prime Minister is?) against them. And in light of the famous row over candidate selection in Blaenau Gwent, will the ordinary party members stand for this either? Without a real leadership contest (since the Labour Party is so lacking in talent) a properly contested Deputy Leadership election is the nearest substitute. The members haven't had the chance to confirm Blair's leadership for years, it looks doubtful they'd get much say about a Brown leadership, they have no real way to express a formal verdict in Prescott and now Harman seeks to deny them this. Why can't Labour have a full contest and see if a woman will be elected? It worked for Margaret Beckett.
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To be fair, there is nothing set in stone as of yet. When Blair and Prescott will leave, which will be soon enough, their posts will be open to any MP who wishes to stand. Personally I would like to see a Brown/Benn (Hilary) ticket, but the leadership is open to all and if someone wants to stand for the leadership as well as Brown, they will be welcome to.
Interestingly enough there is a thing of history repeating here, translate Kinnock succeeded by Smith to Blair succeeded by Brown and there are one or two small similarities.
Plus Brown is an asset. I know many Tories are hoping that there will be a recession and that it will be all Brown's fault, but Brown has managed the economy well in the past nine years. There is low unemployment, a national minimum wage (blocked intitally by the Conservatives I might add), more people going into vocational jobs. I know you will sy that this was all inherited by you lot, but the way you talk about us, if that was the case you would have thought we would totally messed it up by now! Plus we didn't cause Black Wednesday, or belittle those struggling to stay financially afloat by saying "If it isn't hurting it isn't working!" I lived through those years, my Dad was in a middle class, well paid job, and was genuinely frightened of losing that during the recession, I have not seen such a thing happen under Labour, and this I think is what voters will remember when Gordon becomes Prime Minister.
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