Why I’m backing Cruddas

I can foresee it now; the high profile of both Ed and David Miliband, and the circumstances under which their leadership battles are taking place (the shock that 2 brothers are fighting it out; surely we expect this of brothers) will mean that all eyes are on them.

Though I wasn’t there for Ed’s speech, I followed the #nextleft tweets and many leftist characters were repeating how he was uttering niceties, pleasing to fabian-types and progressives. And I can’t say that his leadership would be the worst thing that could happen, but this is precisely the problem, I don’t know Miliband as an ideas man, and whenever I’ve seen him speak he’s always seemed nervous and unbecoming, much like Gordon Brown was towards the end (the end of course being where nervousness and unbecomingness are kind of acceptable).

Ed Balls is by a long shot not a good idea, nobody likes him, and he has done very little to counter that. John McDonnell would be my second choice for leader, he has very real links with the unions, and could keep them onside and from jumping ship to splinter groups and other small parties intent on carving up the left vote. He is also a strong and passionate speaker and is unashamedly on the left wing, but for this reason he might be better suited to a job inside the opposition with a little more clout; for this reason I think he should back Cruddas, who currently leads him in the polls.

Jon Cruddas is a man who ought to take it easy on the academic stuff, indeed if he is to be a real leader contender he needs to keep (his erroneous) talk of the selfish gene back inside Compass HQ. Though this is not to suggest I dislike Cruddas as an ideas-centered person.

When others were waxing lyrical against him (Dave, Louise, Ten%, all of very sound mind, and who I admire and have complete respect for) I decided to stand by him. I read the Hardie lectures and there were many times when I winced with dispapproval, but other times when I could’ve swung from the ceiling; here is a serious labour politician who is talking sense about the type of ‘liberalisms’ that are bad for socialists.

Cruddas notes that:

It is wrong to think of socialism as a tradition that stands in opposition to liberalism … Yet we need to be very clear about which aspects of the liberal tradition Labour can usefully embrace as its own

There are a number of convergences between socialism and liberalism that Cruddas nods his hat to in his lectures at Compass, but today’s liberalisms are far removed from socialism, and these liberalisms even run through the veins of the labour party. Not simply the neo-liberalism of the Blair years, not even utilitarian liberalism which Cruddas also wags a finger at, but a kind of middle class nonchalant liberal attitude, summed up by the connotations of a bourgeoise left wing guardianista. A laissez-faire, suburban attitude towards society; a politically correct guilt-ridden frame of mind; rife with unthinking ideas on immigration; a thirst for silly hollow, non-committed campaigns; a justified anger at the British far right, matched with a relaxed attitude to the Middle Eastern far right, or a want to bend over backwards to blame their violence on the west.

It’ll be a hard task to rid the left of these things, but a good place to start is by holding socialism up to liberalism, Cruddas clearly has a thirst to do this, and that is why I’m supporting him for leader.


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