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:
- 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.
- 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;
- 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.