The Poor Man's Clare Short
Michael Meacher's decision to stand for the leadership of the Labour Party and thus for the Prime Minister's Crown is an unmitigated disaster.
He is yesterday's man, having stood for the deputy leadership 23 years ago in the heyday of a long departed Bennism.
He then tucked in as a Labour Minister under New Labour, voting for the invasion of Iraq. He had failed to budge or to follow Robin Cook - who at one time had only been soft left compared to Michael's hard leftism.
When Clare Short resigned over the invasion of Iraq it was too late, but at least she resigned and had been doing some of the work of a socialist at International Development. Unlike Clare, Michael only found his voice to criticise New Labour once he was pushed out of the Government.
He now seems to have flipped over to a "troops out" position over Iraq. So he voted incorrectly in favour of the invasion and compounds this by calling for a premature scuttle.
Heaven knows, I have disagreed enough with Tony Blair over Iraq but on the troops position he made a sensible speech in the Commons yesterday. I don't know if Michael heard it. But he certainly did not stay in the chamber to ask questions afterwards.
What we need is a left-leaning candidate who will offer a sensible critique of New Labourism, whilst being serious about troop withdrawals and will adopt a Labourite platform which won't frighten the birds.
Although Gordon Brown will probably win, what of the situation afterwards? We need someone who will be a focus for an alternative approach which democratic socialists can live with. This won't be Michael. He will once more disappear into the wilderness when his present ego trip is over.
Waiting For Peter
The alternative to Gordon and John McDonnell should be Peter Hain. He has at least made noises in Government to show that he isn't in tune with the general thrust of New Labour.
If Michael has placed the blocks on Peter's leadership candidature, I will never forgive him. Michael's decision to stand makes John now look like the only refuge for Labour Party socialists - unless Peter will at last grasp the nettle.