09 September 2009

JC is da man

Jesus Christ.
Jimmy Carter.
Jon Cruddas.

One set of initials.
Three of the greatest political brains of all time.

Jon Cruddas's speech at the Compass Summer Lecture at the LSE yesterday evening launches him onto the national stage as a contender for the Labour leadership in the same way that Jimmy Carter's 'Law Day Address' at the University of Georgia in 1974 marked him out as an offbeat presidential contender (as covered by Hunter S Thompson in The Great Shark Hunt).

Jon started quietly, muffled, almost as if he was lacking confidence, but got into his stride as he went along. The speech combined three essential ingredients:

  1. an incisive analysis of the disastrous short-term fate that has befallen the Labour party on the two previous periods of economic crisis that have occurred since its inception - the 1930s and the late 1970s and early 1980s - and a worrying assessment of the parallels which the current economic collapse has produced.
  2. a fistful of radical, sensible, innovative proposals for government - the kind of thing Gordon Brown would have been doing for the last 2 years anyway if he'd had half a clue;
  3. a withering critique of the extremism hiding under the cuddly surface of the Cameronite Tory party.
No-one in any position of authority in the Labour Party is telling it like Jon is, and he's definitely the best option for leader following an election defeat. Can he do it? Quite possibly, yes. He has two big advantages: (a) the likelihood of a strong vote from the trade unions in the electoral college (and most likely from the party membership as well), and (b) not being tarred with the brush of failure, having not been a minister at any point during the Nu Labour period.

There is after that, of course, the small matter of how to beat the Tory Government at the 2015 election. But I think we can leave it to the Tories to f*** things up royally enough to give Labour a fighting chance.

So bring on Jon and let's get on with it.


Van Patten said...

I would agree with your assessment of Cruddas as being unsullied by this wretched shambles of an administration. In the contest for Deputy Leader, he was far and away the best candidate - the only one who showed any understanding of the reasons behind the increase in the BNP vote beyond the reflex action of labelling their voters as 'racists'. The vehemence with which he is attacked by BNP trolls on The Telegraph boards is reminiscent of the Hard Left's reaction to Norman Tebbit's appointment as Employment Secretary in the 1980's. This is a man they fear.

So you are right to give him a degree of praise. He has even been given guarded praise from the Mail and Telegraph. However, based on the rather depressing 'Compass' (a name I believe shared by a Catering group - perhaps we'd get more economic literacy from their annual conference) speech, I fear were he to prevail, it would take the Sun, Mail and Telegraph about a week to tear into him with some vigour.

The first area he chooses: Equality. I would need to see more details of the 'High Pay commission' but it looks very much like a return to the 1970's and will just send more productive people (from both the Private and the productive Public Sector)flooding out to lower tax (or crucially) higher quality of life jurisdictions. Australia and Canada are not Monaco or Abu Dhabi in terms of how their taxation systems are set up, but almost every expat I have spoken to agree that though the tax levels are higher, the feeling of 'value for money' you get from either Public sector is far greater than in the UK. The current government is guilty of many things but stinting on Public expenditure is certainly not one of them. Are we to suppose that following the failure of massive increases in public expenditure, yet more largesse is required?

Moving on to 'community'.
He also proposes help for communities who have 'experienced tremendous change through immigration' ( a less guarded term might have been 'partial (or indeed in parts of Birmingham and the North, total) colonisation') As I said at the outset, Cruddas is arguably the only Labour MP who understands the reasons behind the BNP's growth in support. His East London Counterpart, the appalling Margaret Hodge, is reckoned by the BNP themselves to be worth 15% in her constituency as she is a 'reflex' Liberal, who derives all of the benefits from the policy of unlimited immigration whilst seeing none of the costs.

However, he is light on the details - is he going to disperse some of these people to other parts of the UK than the South East? ( A policy ruled illegal by the courts) Does he think 'sustainability' best served by allowing 400,000 people a year into an area which is already the most crowded in the EU?

I won't take up even more space by talking about the other two of the four principles he posits. The creation of Hannan as some kind of 'Straw man' seems to be a staple of much 'Leftist' thought nowadays, It is reminscent of Brian Mawhinney's 'Demon eyes' campaign of 1996. He talks of 'glinting in the eye' when talking of cuts whilst failing to realise that in the current era of globalised capital, people who don't like the tax rates can (and will) go to other jurisdictions. There isn't a great amount of wealth that isn't already taxed to tax. Some degree of retrenchment is going to be necessary.

He is correct to say that the debate has 'retreated into a framework of the right'. That's because, at least in the UK, the Left made such a Horlicks of things in the 1970's that their credibility was dealt probably a terminal blow. I'd quite like him to win as I think he'd be a welcome change from Blair, certainly and the halfwittedness of the current rabble. Whether he could prevail against the 'forces of conservatism' in 6 years time I doubt. I look forward to the fight, however.

giroscoper said...


This is a high-quality comment post.

I agree the Compass name is problematic.

I think the point of the High Pay Commission is that the people commanding these ridiculous salaries in the financial sector, in particular, aren't actually productive. In fact, their productivity is negative. Fred Goodwin anyone?

As indicated in earlier posts, there is certainly some spending we can cut: ID cards, replacing Trident etc. But major cuts to key spending items would be a huge mistake.

Daniel Hannan is fairly representative of what the new intake of Tory MPs thinks (there will be a lot of them, even more so because of the expenses scandal) even if he doesn't reflect official Conservative policy. I think Hannan might be worth 3 to 5 percent to Labour at the next election.

The Left made a "Horlicks of things" in the 1970s - really? Whilst the 1974-9 administration faced several problems their economic record was actually better than either the Heath or Thatcher govts, IMHO.

I agree that whether Cruddas could win in 2015 depends to a large extent on just how crap the Cameron administration is - and I would suggest that "very crap" will be an appropriate assessement. But we shall see...

Van Patten said...

I think this is an interesting point regarding the financial services sector. So great has been the damage to our manufacturing base caused by government policy, we have become heavily dependent on that sector. Even as a supporter of much Thatcher did, she truly believed in 'protecting her own'. This category clearly didn't include the manufacturing heartlands of the Midlands, North and Scotland. In that sense, if no other, Blair and Brown are her spiritual heirs, as they couldn't give a fig about the collapse of many small businesses or the many middle managers in the private sector. Different 'client groups' as Simon Heffer might say.

If the High pay commission's remit looks at the compensation paid out in this sector, then I would certainly take a look at its proposals with some interest. The reaction of the personnel in those banks which have been baled out by the taxpayer verges from the rightly humbled to those aggrieved at having missed out on a year's bonus. That these businesses should have been allowed to collapse, and realistically they should be grateful for the minimum wage, appears to have bypassed any sense of humility they might have had. You are absolutely right to characterise Goodwin as non-productive (although the government did agree the terms of his renumeration) and I remember you calling for some kind of retorspective legislation to seize his renumeration, along the lines of the 'windfall taxes' - I'd certainly be willing to countenance this , not only for him, but for 'private equity' firms and 'hedge funds' as well. (perhaps levies on these could go to fund maintenance work on gardens and hedges in Britain's stately homes or National Trust properties?)

You need to be careful, however, how many people are caught up in any tax increase. £100,000 a year is what Darling began at. It doesn't take much knowledge of history or great analysis to see that being lowered or in the classic example of a stealth tax, being 'frozen' to increase the burden without increasing the headline rate. ( Remember the CPS classic from 2003 - 100 Stealth taxes under New Labour?)

We also need to look at the recompense paid to denizens of the EC, including European Commissioners and MEPs (amongst others) whose arrangements are even more reprehensible than Fred goodwin's as these people are responsible for much of the lunacy currently affecting the country. One disappointing thing about Cruddas' speech is that Europe didn't even merit a mention - this seems to be a characterisitic of much Compass output. Is this wilful ignorance or just a failure to prioritise?

Anonymous said...

you must be joking this is the same jimmy carter who accuses anyone who disagrees with obama a racist -errm hello what do you want jimmy carter -a dictator who has no opposition.

the same jimmy carter who was a joke in the irainian embassy siege.