Shadow cabinet: militant Blairite Tendency still there

October 9th, 2010

The Shadow Cabinet results are very revealing, on several counts.   Out of the 19 elected members, 10 voted for David Miliband, and only 3 or 4 voted for Ed.   It is packed with the Blairite Tendency, several of the militant brand, and their influence is not to be under-estimated.   Even in the wider Shadow Cabinet of 27, including Lords members and those co-opted by the Leader, Ed only secured the vote of 6 or 7.   There is not a single person in the Shadow Cabinet who could be described as a natural left-winger, though perhaps a quarter could be categorised as moderate centre-left.   Significantly Diane Abbott, one of the 5 leadership candidates and the only left-wing candidate for the Shadow Cabinet, was not elected.

All this of course reflects, not the wishes of Ed Miliband, but the composition of the PLP.   It is an overwhelmingly right-wing body.   Out of the 258 members, there is perhaps a militant Blairite core of up to 60 who are quite prepared to cause trouble (as was shown over the challenge to Nick Brown as Chief Whip) plus perhaps a similar number with more moderate Blairite sympathies, still representing nearly half the PLP.   In addition there are perhaps some 80-90 members of the former Brownite faction.   Only some 50 members could be described as centre-left.

The chronic right-wing ill-balance within the PLP doesn’t reflect at all the wider membership of the Labour Party throughout the country, particularly now that party opinion is clearly moving left.   It reflects the cloning of the PLP by the Blair political machine which used every manipulative device (usually contrary to party rules) to achieve the selection of pro-Blairite candidates for every parliamentary vacancy after 1994.   That included telling party officials who are meant to be impartial to drum up support for the preferred candidate, handing over local party membership lists weeks or even months earlier to that candidate, and manipulating the postal votes.

The consequences of that high-jacking of the party are still being felt.   Behind the scenes the influence, and organisational activity, of the Blairites remains considerable.   One has to question whether the dropping of Nick Brown (who was always close to Gordon Brown) reflects that influence.    Or whether the sidelining of Ed Balls (also always close to Gordon Brown),  so obviously the most suitable candidate for Shadow Chancellor, in favour of the Blairite Alan Johnson, also reflects that malign influence.

Ed Miliband has a big task pulling the party – and the Shadow Cabinet – out of the grip of New Labour and its remaining Blairite adherents.   He needs help from all sides because unless he succeeds, the chances of Labour winning the next election will be hugely diminished.

6 Responses to “Shadow cabinet: militant Blairite Tendency still there”

  1. Bill Haymes Says:

    Thanks for this Michael-i am still having trouble recognising your point here-
    Or whether the sidelining of Ed Balls (also always close to Gordon Brown), so obviously the most suitable candidate for Shadow Chancellor, in favour of the Blairite Alan Johnson, also reflects that malign influence.

    Are you saying that the leader could not lead here over this highly critical appointment? If so ,how?
    How is this appointment not a cop out??
    Perhaps you will say i dont know but someday a conclusion will have to be reached

  2. Syzygy Says:

    So what can we do to help him?

  3. Bill Haymes Says:

    how to help him….? believe he knows whats best and dont ask any questions-let economic orthodoxy prevail…..

  4. william Says:

    History lessons.1. Tony Blair won 3 elections.2.Gordon Brown,Nic Brown, Ed Balls represented everything that southern England loathed, incompetence and self before country.3.Thatcher would have got rid of every member of Brown’s loathesome and useless team. Do you want to win the next election,Ed,or spend 18 years in opposition,and see the party disintegrate?

  5. veganpanda Says:

    Until the public get a fair voting system (PR) the publics voice doesn’t count for anything on the whole… The first step is to vote ‘YES’ in the AV Referendum, it’s a small step I know but a step none-the-less.

    Right now there’s virtually no difference between the Tories & New Labour, but we’ll get lumbered with one or the other & it won’t be the vast majority’s choice!

  6. Falkirk has revealed the rotten state of all our political parties | John Harris « John Harris Says:

    [...] himself get super-safe seats in the north-east of England, long a byword for old-Labour fixes? What of the way their central machine gave its chosen candidates local membership lists, and left the hopefuls it deemed unacceptable out in the cold? Does anyone recall the wretched [...]

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