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Why I am sticking with my Cruddas for Deputy bet

December 27th, 2006


    How September’s 125/1 shot is making the running

The long holiday weekend and for all but one of the declared candidates in Labour’s deputy race a chance to relax with their families or to get away from the political process.

For John Cruddas, however, this was the ideal time to maximise the headlines on what is always a very slow news period. So his warning about Labour’s membership declining at 27,000 a year made it onto most of the bulletins yesterdays and commands a fair amount of space in today’s papers.

    This was smart campaigning and shows what an operator Cruddas is. For when it comes to using the media the “unknown candidate” is sweeping the floor with his opponents.

His message that Labour has to be rebuilt from the grassroots in order to reconnect with the electorate seems ideally honed to resonate with those who are still members of the party and will account for a third of the total votes in the electoral college.

It also reinforces his core proposition that his bid is very different from the cabinet ministers whose main concern can be portrayed as jockeying for position in a Brown-led government.

What must have been very satisfying for him yesterday was getting the party chair, Hazel Blears, to respond by saying he was using the membership data in a “sensational way”. It just sounded pathetic and underlined the argument that Cruddas has been making.

My reading of what is happening is that the membership will just about put up with a Brown coronation but they want their chance to vote THEIR man into the deputy slot – a view that is echoed amongst many leading trade union figures.

In the betting my only regret was not getting on at the 125/1 on him that was available just before the Labour conference.

Mike Smithson






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