Sunday 3 August 2008

An Appeal for Calm and a Bit of Common Sense and Decency.

This morning the media is again full of plotters engaged in the planning of coups and counter coups, conspirators infighting and character assassination. It's just another day in the life of New Labour.

The Blairite New Labour spin machine has gone into overdrive in promoting David Miliband throughout their usual media outlets. Yesterday it was embarrassing to read exactly the same eulogies to Miliband from the likes of the Guardian's Polly Toynbee that she had written initially for Tony Blair and only 12 months ago for Gordon Brown. Now in the Sunday papers we have Blair's own revenge attack on Brown published.

Also today the Jon Cruddas and Neal Lawson Compass camp has launched its leadership bid with a very personal coded attack on David Miliband, accusing him of a "narcissistic cash for personal glory" and refers to his small faction that "seeks immaturely to gain advantage." Whilst they call for policy changes and list a few policies the Government should consider, the only slight problem is that over the last 11 years they have wholeheartedly supported the Government's policies they now criticise and voted against many of the policies they now advocate.

The Brownite response is a planned cabinet reshuffle to bring more unquestioning supporters into the cabinet. This just gives even further the impression of a beleagured leader defensively circling of the wagons. Just at a time when we need more open and honest debate in cabinet he appears to be stifling this opportunity.

In the long term interests of our party, the people we seek to represent and indeed the country, we desperately need to find a way out of this mess and to end the personal dogfighting and to help restore some dignity to the standing of the Labour Party and our Government.

My straightforward proposal is that we should impose a time limit on the debate on whether there is to be a leadership election or not. This would involve saying to all these various contenders that by the Labour party conference in September you should declare whether you wish to stand for leader of our party. If you wish to stand then say so and publish the policy manifesto upon which you want to invite support from our members. So that there can be no means by which the factions within the Parliamentary Labour party can block an election we should drop the rule which a a candidate must secure a minimum number of MPs' nominations and thus veto an election.

At least this process force the current prospective candidates to make their minds up and come out the dark. It should not prevent any future debate about the policies Labour should pursue but at least it would no longer place these proper and democratic debates in the context of leadership conspiracies.

I appeal to all those who have participated in the discussion about Labour's future to support this compromise plan to resolve the current impasse.