The siren voice of Jon Cruddas….
Jon Cruddas has dismayed a few on the Labour-left by todays ringing endorsement of David Miliband for Labour leader. However, it is not something that is exactly unsurprising given it is well-known they have a strong personal relationship. I am a little surprised Cruddas has potentially harmed his chance of the Labour Party Chairmanship by openly favouring one candidate in the leadership battle but obviously he has been persuaded to provide the necessary endorsement to burnish the elder Milibands’ lefty credentials. I am dismayed but not surprised by the view of Cruddas because I believe the similarity and closeness is a product of much more than strong personal ties.
Cruddas continually talks about his socialism as meaning the fight for the ‘Good Society’ which suggests to me his socialism and indeed his approach to politics is to see them both as ethical obligations. This is something he fundamentally shares with David who sees things in similar terms. If we were being veracious we might also point out that it’s not that dissimilar to the view of Tony Blair who saw things through a similar ‘ethical’ prism. The thing is with this view of things it can unite the likes of Blair right through the elder Miliband to the likes of Cruddas. It is true that Cruddas and Blair would not be on the same page on many issues of the day; nonetheless this view of progressive politics as being essentially ethical obligations loosely connects them. So it was that on issues like the Iraq War Cruddas and Blair, although an unlikely couple, ended-up on the same side and so it is now that Cruddas ends-up on the side he does.
However, it is worth noting that this way is the way that has just been electorally pounded and it is this way that has just failed the Labour Party. Yes, it was successful for a time but what really changed and what has really destroyed this way of doing things is the financial crisis. When faced with the financial crisis we were pretty impotent when it came to giving people answers and providing them with radical solutions. It’s simply not good enough to offer people ethical aspirations anymore; ethical aspirations will not keep their school open or even stop it from falling down and it will certainly not keep them out of poverty as the zealots of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats make them pay for the crisis. People don’t want to be forced to pay; they want an economy that works for them, not the other way around.
If we are going to take the path back to power we need to offer them concrete action to tackle societies deep-rooted problems; not motherhood and apple pie. Although it may sound tempting and strike alot of the right chords, the leftism of Cruddas and the elder Miliband has failed and its time has passed. By all means Labour should listen to what they have to say but it should listen and resist the temptation of siren voices.