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Is this the ticket that secures the unions for Gordon?

October 24th, 2006

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    Is a deal being struck so Brown’s backing Cruddas?

In all the discussion on Labour’s leadership elections far too little attention has been paid to what’s driving the third element in the party’s electoral structure – the trade unions. For after years of being half-ignored by Downing Street the union bosses appear determined to put their thumb-prints on the Labour succession if only, at the very least, to assert their key role in the Labour movement.

    Given that the outcome of the ballot of union members will represent precisely one third of the electoral college that will decide the two top posts then the news that seven leading union general secretaries have come out for Jon Cruddas has to be taken very seriously.

For although it’s the individual members who vote their leaders will have a huge influence particularly with the election of the Deputy. I would not be surprised if Cruddas, who was at 125/1 at the start of the month, picks up more than two-thirds of the union votes. With that as a basis he would not have to secure much more support in the membership or MP sections of the ballots to be elected.

There’s another element – the trade unions need to be seen to having an influence on the leadership election. Brown, although not universally popular with the union hierarchies is seen as a foregone conclusion for leader so the focus has become the deputy.

    I do not know whether this has happened or will happen but will the price of union support for the Chancellor be his backing of their man for deputy?

I’m always wary when people talk about the predictive nature of betting markets. But something has been driving the deputy leadership market where Cruddas has tightened from 125/1 to 8/1 in a month. Is there knowledge about that some sort of arrangement has been reached with Gordon and the unions?

The final element that makes me think Cruddas is a great bet is his USP. He is not pressing to be deputy prime minister or to hold some other high office in the Brown government. Rather he sees the role of the deputy as being the voice of the Labour movement in the higher echelons of power.

After all the movement has gone through with Tony Blair the Cruddas proposal strikes a real chord with a lot of people. Ladbrokes have him at 8/1. Take it.

Mike Smithson






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