February 26, 2007

Denham to Stand?

For a long time, I have wondered about the potential of John Denham as a candidate from the soft left of the Labour party. Ever since the death of Robin Cook who would have been the obvious candidate and given Brown a serious run for his money from the left- the problem is that John McDonnell is someone who has never held ministerial office and whose last political office was within London in the 1980s. Michael Meacher didn't oppose the Iraq war, beleives in 9/11 conspiracy theories and failed to even attract the support of even his campaign launch chair. Cook would have offered them someone who believed in a leftwing version of Blairism- essentially opposed to some of the later reforms but not someone who instinctively wanted a socialist revolution. Denham in many ways is a lower profile version of Cook- again he has a distinguished record as a minister and select committee chairman. He resigned over the Iraq war and also has opposed some of the more incredible leglislative gambles taken by the government whilst remaining broadly supportive- unlike say Claire Short he has been scrupulously loyal in the broad sense whilst demonstrating that he has a leftwing conscience. Iain Dale and Mike Smithson have both suggested that Denham is looking like running- Smithson has even placed a bet on him. The issue has always been to me whether Denham wants to run- but indisputably he has the credibility to run both as a former minister and as a principled politician from the left.

If it is and it looks like it will be true that no candidate is able to garner enough signatures from the right of the party (remember that the signatures are all public so any MPs on the right signing will be signing their political death warrent), it looks to me like the only serious candidate could emerge from the left- and the only serious candidate for the Premiership to me available from the left is John Denham. Meacher and McDonnell just look to me like stalking horses- Denham's the closest thing they have to Robin Cook.

Though my fancy is there will be many on the left of the Labour party cursing Robin Cook's weak heart when Gordon Brown becomes Prime Minister.


james higham said...

You might just be correct [must not say 'right'] on this. I've been reading Paul Linford on the issue as well.

Anonymous said...

Is Denham a Major figure who is inoffensive and palatable rather than having any great substance though Gracchus? I must admit I hadn't heard that Meacher's own people were not supporting him. Wasn't he the one who had lots of homes whilst railing at everyone else?


Gracchi said...

James we agree.

Anonymous- yes I agree about Denham, I don't see much substance having said that I don't know much about him but he has opposed things like top up fees and did resign over Iraq so has collected Brownie points on the left. As for Meacher that's the man and go and look at Ian Gibson's comments about him- they are hilarious.

roym said...

"remember that the signatures are all public so any MPs on the right signing will be signing their political death warrent"

all so sadly true. this is why i'm increasingly fed up with party politics. MPs are increasingly becoming cyborg like and towing the "strategists and spin-meisters" line, and losing any semblance of individuality.

Harry Barnes said...

Yet does not Denham have the same soft heart that Robin Cook did?

Gracchi said...

Roym that's politics for good or ill.

Harry can you explain- I don't know much about Denham- he seems to be a principled guy. Do you mean that Denham has a heart problem too? I've heard nothing about that. I wasn't implying that he lacked compassion or anything just that Cook's death took out of British politics a standard bearer for the left and there isn't really anyone left there that I can think of with the same profile and experience- Denham seems to be the closest to it.