Friday, July 14, 2006

McDonnell standing will force Brown off the fence

I think it is fairly safe to say that John McDonnell will not win a Labour Party Leadership election when Blair stands down. That doesn't mean he shouldn't stand, and I'm pleased he has thrown his hat in the ring. No doubt those who wanted a coronation will call McDonnell and the Campaign Group divisive, or like Luke Akehurst they will rejoice because they think it will give Brown the opportunity to expose the weakness of the left. That may well be so, I mean if the left in the Party had not been so weak we would not have had to put up with some of the worst excesses of Blairism. However, the advantage of a contested election with a left candidate standing is that Gordon Brown will be flushed out. He will not be able to continue his disappearing act that he has become so adept in doing everytime Blair does something controversial. He will have to either stand firm on Blairite policies (such as the latest proposal to privatise the management of health services) and tell the Party and trade union members where he stands... or go some way to meet the demands of those in the Party who oppose the blatent conservatism of the New Labour project. Interestingly, big trade unions like UNISON, with a very substantial health sector membership, will ballot their members who pay the political fund to determine how the union will cast it's vote for Leader.