This week's "Tribune" is good fun on the Labour Leadership issue.
Robert Taylor has a good moan and groan about the failure to produce a contest for the Leader's post itself. It is enjoyable knock about stuff. He only seems to miss one ploy. He fails to have a go at the Deputy Leadership candidates who showed that they did not have the guts to take on Gordon for the top job.
Alongside Taylor's article is one by Paul Anderson which seeks to undermine's his colleague's line. Paul writes -
"Every time the top post falls vacant in any of our major political parties - and in Labour's case, when the deputy leader goes - the cry goes up that there must be a contest to ensure a debate on the party's future. Then there is a lot of huffing and puffing (HB -Robert Taylor Style!) about how the absence of a contest means that debate has been stifled, or else there's a contest in which all the candidates welcome a chance for debate which the contest offers. What rarely if ever happens is any actual debate."
Paul's final point is then confirmed when we turn to a set of six articles elsewhere in Tribune from the Deputy Leadership candidates. They remind me of looking for a programme on a multi-channel Television when you have some time to kill. There are umpteen alternatives, but it is hard to distinquish one from the other. A more limited but real choice would be welcome. So we have to distinguish between -
1. Hilary (I am a nice guy) Benn.
2. Hazel (I want us to win the next election) Blears.
3. John (I only want half the job) Cruddas.
4. Peter (I was a nice guy 30 years ago) Hain.
5. Harriet (I am a woman) Harman.
6. Alan (I don't need to say anything) Johnson.
Having gathered together all the above thoughts and non-thoughts, the editor of Tribune then decided that it was time to try and enliven matters. The editorial states -
"So while the hustings rumble on until June 24, we are seeking to liven up the debate, with the help of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, by publically asking the candidates the following questions relating to both the Labour Party and the policies of the Government".
These 12 questions then follow, with Tribune promising to publish the replies it receives. The editor, however, has the wit to tell as not to hold our breath in waiting for them.
Perhaps he should not be too septical, for I tried a similar ploy in the 1992 contests. I limited myself to five questions in an article in the "Morning Star". And I did receive answers to each from the winners, John Smith and Margaret Beckett. They were duly published. I hope that the current candidates feel that this means it pays to respond! This was, however, 15 years ago and before the birth of the policies and practices of New Labourism. Perhaps we should not really hold our breath after all.