Saturday, May 12, 2007

Jon Cruddas interviewed


Interesting interview with Jon Cruddas from Labour Home.

In particular he addresses the importance of the Deputy leader contest, not as a side show, but as an important arena for discussing ideas and policies.

Jon explains the importance of supporting the Agency workers bill, an important issue for the trade unions, and also the need for addressing the failure of the market in housing, including council housing.

He is quizzed about his past as a Blairite, and is not entirely convincing by saying that he hasn't changed his views, and the party has changed so his previously stance on the right has now become the left. This doesn't entirely ring true given he has moved to now oppose the Iraq war, his developed critique of New Labour as an electoral machine that inhibits progressive change, and his demands for a change of direction.

In policy terms Jon Cruddas does not represent a complete break with the failed policies of Blairism, for example he supports ID cards. However, he has led the opposition to University Top Up fees. He does dance around some issues, for example saying he isn't necessarily opposed to Academies, but saying he opposed one in his own constituency and believes there should be a level playing field, so that when local authorities refuse Academies they are not taken off of the capital building programme. (In effect this would kill the Academy priogramme stone dead, as local authorities only take them becasue they are not given choice).

It is important not to build Cruddas into something he is not. He is not a class struggle socialist - however he is arguing for a break with the policy agenda of New Labour, and for aligning policy towards delivering benefits for working people.

These are messages that the trade union movement should support, as part of articulating the political demands of organised labour. The main ideological oppostion to New labour is now coming from the trade unions, over PFI, over rights for agency workers, over Academies, over private equity.

In order to renew the political movement of the working class after the defeat of Blairism we need to take every opportunity to encourage the unions to develop their own political voice. Supportin JOn Cruddas is a good signal that under Gordon Brown, we want to see some changes.

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