Jon Cruddas, the Labour MP for Barking and Dagenham who worked as Tony Blair's trade union fixer between 1999 and 2001, has officially announced his bid for Labour deputy leader and was due to hold a rally in Dagenham on the evening of 18 October to launch his campaign.
There is no doubt that Cruddas' campaign will play to the left. His campaign website argues that Labour has “lost its way” and promises to “infuse ordinary members around the central values of equality, fairness and a rejection of the politics of hate”. The BBC website quotes him attacking Blair's foreign policy for breeding “insecurity, fear and isolation within some of our own communities” and attacking politicians who “drive the political centre of gravity to the right...in an ever more muscular bidding war...to demonstrate who can be tougher on migrants, asylum seekers and minorities.”
Cruddas shot to prominent when he attacked the New Labour government for abandoning its working-class supporters. He has extensive support in the unions (self-proclaimed TGWU left-wing Barry Camfield is among the speakers on his 18 October platform). Some of what he has said about the rise of the BNP in East London is thoughtful and interesting, and well to the left of the moronic lowest common denominator politics of Unite Against Fascism.
In principle, one might advocate a vote for Cruddas against the various chemically pure Blairites (Straw, Hain, Harman etc) standing against him for deputy leader. Nonetheless, socialists need to be clear that he is not a serious left-winger, but a maverick Blairite himself.
Forget the warm phrases on Cruddas' website, and his voting record tells us much of what we need to know. According to www.theyworkforyou.com, he was: “moderately for ID cards”, “quite strongly for Labour's anti-terrorism laws”, “very strongly for foundation hospitals” and “very strongly for the Iraq war”.
Hypocrite-in-chief Michael Meacher may be more stomach-turning, but Cruddas is politically at least as bad.