The Labour Leadership contest is in danger of turning into a complete and utter farce.
The Three Stooges : Clarke, Milburn and Meacher
Ignoring the Byzantine policy-making structure which they helped to foist upon the Labour Party, Charles Clarke and Alan Milburn now propose to set up their own policy debate via a web-site. Yet as every blogger knows, comment boxes seriously degenerate after the first wave of entries - just have a look at Harry's Place.
John McDonnell is probably correct when he states that "nobody can believe that this is anything other than a smokescreen for the launch of a pre-emptive coup against Gordon Brown by the Blairite ultra-right." For when this duo are supposed to be tackling Gordon Brown on policy matters, instead they concentrate on what really worries them - his slump in the opinion polls put down to a lack of charisma.
On the third stooge, see this one I made earlier.
At The Starting Blocks
A. Gordon Brown. He has been the economic wing of New Labour, even though he has had one of the longest sulks about his leader, even challenging that of Ted Heath over Margaret Thatcher. For those in a democratic socialist position, he is a non-starter - unless he is suddenly going to return to the days of John Smith.
B. John McDonnell. He was fine when we shared rebel division lobbies against New Labour excesses. But everything can't be put back in one fell swoop. His campaign isn't meant to build a meaningful challenge to old, new or right-wing Blairism. He is merely for spreading the socialist gospel. But even that aim will backfire in widespead defeat.
C. Micheal Meacher. He has no credabilty on his chosen ground of the centre-left. He tucked in with the New Labour Government and then got the sack. He had missed his chance to resign and build a base amongst the very back-benchers he is now trying to appeal to. When he was finally free to move, he came up with a futile conspiracy theory about 9/11. He had been surfing the net without discernment.
D. Godot or God-damn-it. This is the yet unknown candidate of the dreams of Charles Clarke and Allan Milburn (they are probably waiting for us to turn out on the streets to shout for them.) If what emerges is a substitute for Blair/Brown or the right wing varient feared by John McDonnell, then this could be the candidate from hell.
Who Is Doing The Thinking On The Centre-Left ?
The leftward leaning (but pro-capitalist) think-tank Compass has washed its hands of the Leadership Contest and is running a strange and premature ballot for its members for the Deputy Leadership instead. As the returning officer, it is asking its members to vote for Jon Cruddas. Are they serious ?
As I keep arguing, only Peter Hain (of the booming Northern Ireland economy) can save the centre-left from the folly of a Leadership contest where it currently has no real presence. OK, I am on the left but we can't do anything without a centre. Why do I seem to be the only to be making the case for Peter4Leader? Perhaps I am the only one who isn't mad after ten years of New Labouring.
If Peter does not make a move, then I will probably have to end up voting for John McDonnell (if he makes the ballot paper). But this will be due to a non-emotional spasm and will be an act of desparation. And without John in the contest, it will have to be Gordon or abstention. I can't belieeeve it.