Big Beasts or sour grapes?

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I have been placed in something of a dilemma this week by the reappearance of 2 ‘Big Beasts’ of Labour’s recent past. First, David Blunkett wrote an article in the Guardian offering some (presumably unsolicited) advice to the Prime Minister about not losing touch with public opinion. Today, Charles Clarke offered a political diamond to the Tories and headline-writers by announcing he was ‘ashamed to be a Labour MP’.

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I have always considered myself a Blairite and had serious reservations before Gordon took over. Consequently, I presume this makes me part of the much-loathed ‘tribal’ conflict within the Labour party. Sadly, as difficult as I have found the past week, these announcements seem as unhelpful as they are futile. Telling the Prime Minister to pull his socks up and knuckle down is daft. Firstly, Gordon is running the country and not going out to bat on a seaming pitch. The problems of recent weeks will not be resolved by concentrating a bit more!  If anything the problem is that he spends too much time trying to govern to appease public opinion. The best example of this must be the ludicrous use of YouTube to make an announcement about the highly technical and dull world of MP expenses.

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My other problem is that those making these announcements seem in no position to pass comment. Despite the seemingly-endless array of blunders following Jacqui Smith and her department, few are begging for the return of David Blunkett or Charles Clarke as Home Secretary. The simple truth is that neither set the world alight whilst in Government and neither has acquired a significant media profile since. Consequently, the taste of sour grapes is almost palpable.

I do not believe this marks the return to divisions at the top of the Labour party. Also, unlike the press releases criticising Blair whilst in office, I do not think this is a co-ordinated campaign by a Blairite splinter group. It has been known that claims I make on this blog sometimes require a later ‘update’. If the next few days bring a newspaper article by Alan Milburn about ‘renewing whilst in office’ or if Stephen Byers goes on Newsnight telling Brown to ‘reconnect with voters’  I will happily retract this.

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