Thursday, February 22, 2007

Michael : You Have Placed Us In It.

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.

Ego Tripping

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.


Manchester University Labour Club said...

Meacher is a complete joke figure. Does he seriously think he could lead the Labour party. He hasn't even tried to re-engage the left apart from with empty gestures.

Harry Barnes said...


I attempted a long comment, but could not access my own comment box! It is to do with an update of the blogging arrangements which were forced upon me. This is really a test to see if I still face the problem.

Harry Barnes said...


What the Labour Party has needed for a long time is for someone with standing to resign from the Government and lead a feasible alternative programme from the back benches handled with some sensitivity. Robin Cook did the resigning but did not move not move on. Meacher was probably never up to it. When he was sacked, his last chance had gone. Then he immediately come up with a silly conspiracy theory about 9/11. It is why I argue that Peter Hain should follow the line I suggest. There is little chance that he will, but pushing him allows me to peddle my line - which I feel is important.
Of the three currently seeking to stand, Meacher comes third - even though I criticise the other two.

Bob Piper said...

Harry, I have the upmost respect for you. Top man in my book. But honestly, I struggle on this 'left leaning' Peter Hain bit. OK, you know him better than me, but I honestly can't see where Hain has leant to the left. He was more redical 30 years ago opposing Aparheid as a Liberal than anything he has displayed as a pro-Blair New Labour MP. If I am not just going to 'support my friend's friend' where are these credentials? Not just quotes from pre-Blair books... but real, genuine commitment to something different to more of the same?

Harry Barnes said...

He has a decent record in Northern Ireland on social and economic matters. He goes as far in coded criticism as anyone has who currently remains in Government. He keeps using the language of "libetarian socialism" to indicate that his past ideas remain with him. If he came out of Government he would be in the best position on the left to build a base around - it would not, of course, be pure leftism. But we can't get that in current circumstances. And it tends to end up failing. He is the best we have got.

©Occupied Country said...

Bob, Michael used to be my MP. I have canvassed on his behalf many times in the past. Debated with him on many occasions.

He has FIVE houses (one a most desirable pile in Hampstead), even the one(?) he owns in Oldham is a world away away from the "riot-torn" streets of Glodwick or Westwood. A candidate of the Left - "My Arse!"

Remember when he tried to pass himself off as a "horny-handed son of toil?" I'd love to see him dig a ditch. I've seen him in action - close up, I shudder to think what nonsense he will come up with in the lead up to the election (if - and it must be a big "IF") - he gets the required nominations.

Hain's probably just as bad I don't know - I've never met him.

All I can say in his favour is well done Michael for ensuring there's a vote.