Sunday, June 24, 2007

It wasn't just the womens' vote

Okay, so we got it wrong. Most of the pundits who have followed Labour's deputy leadership election contest over the past few weeks were split between predicting a victory for Hilary Benn, who came a bad fourth, and Alan Johnson, pipped at the post in second. Few anticipated a win for Harriet Harman, although in retrospect, perhaps we should have realised that what Gordon wants, Gordon usually gets in the end.

Some will no doubt be crowing over the fact that Guido was one of those who tipped Johnson, but at least he's had the good grace to acknowledge it. And having myself predicted a final ballot between Benn and Cruddas, with Benn emering victorious by 55-45, I am hardly in a position to talk.

Initial reaction to Harriet's victory tended to focus on the fact that party members clearly wanted a woman deputy, which is not surprising given that she made that her main campaign pitch. But I don't think that was the only reason she won.

What I think it demonstrates is that there was a natural majority in the party for the viewpoint most clearly represented in this contest by Harman and Jon Cruddas - that not everything the government has done has been perfect, and that the War in Iraq, in particular, was very far from being so.

In retrospect, the key moment of the campaign was the televised debate on Question Time, when Harman called for a government apology for the war and urged her supporters to make Jon Cruddas their second preference. From that moment on, there was never any doubt in my mind that one of them would make the last two.

I thought it would be Cruddas who would be ahead, and that Harman's votes would transfer to him. In the event, it turned out to be the other way round. Either way, it shows the desire for, at the very least, a change of tone on Iraq, and at the appropriate time, a change in policy too.

free web site hit counter

1 comment:

Bob Piper said...

"...and urged her supporters to make Jon Cruddas their second preference."

Except I think you will find she didn't do that, certainly not in the television debate. Jon said he would vote for Harriet if he wasn't standing, but she fudged saying she didn't want to be seen to say Jon Cruddas just because he had said he would support her.