David Miliband wins backing of Jon Cruddas for leadership campaign
Influential backbencher says he is impressed by Miliband’s willingness to ‘show courtesy towards different traditions’
- Andrew Sparrow, senior political correspondent
- guardian.co.uk, Thursday 26 August 2010 09.56 BST
- Article history
Cruddas, who performed well in the deputy leadership contest and is seen as a leading thinker in the party, said in an interview in the New Statesman that he had been impressed by Miliband’s leadership style, particularly his willingness to “show courtesy towards different traditions as part of an overall, plural realignment across the centre and the left”.
The endorsement may prove significant because the race has reached a crucial stage – ballot papers go out next week – and Miliband is facing a tough challenge from his brother, Ed. The other three candidates, Ed Balls, Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott, seem to be trailing well behind.
Explaining his decision to back David Miliband, Cruddas said: “David is not just going down a checklist of policies; he seems to me to be echoing a more fundamental sentiment, in terms of what Labour needs to do.
“He’s beginning to touch on some of those profound questions that need to be addressed head-on. What is the nature of the reckoning? We should not just be running from the record, but having a nuanced approach to some of the things that went wrong, as well as defending the things that went right.”
Cruddas said that he was impressed by the fact that Miliband had not just been attacking the Liberal Democrats.
“Attacking the Liberals is wrong. There’s a danger of us spraying too much lead across the forecourt and not really thinking about how we need to regroup,” Cruddas said.
“We need to have respect for and show courtesy towards different traditions as part of an overall, plural realignment across the centre and the left – that’s what’s going to be needed. Arguably, the era of majoritarian [sic] victories by single parties is at an end.”
Cruddas also told the New Statesman that he had been influenced by two particular contributions Miliband had made to the campaign.
“One was the column on Englishness he wrote in [the New Statesman]. Another was his Keir Hardie memorial lecture. What was interesting to me about this was when he started talking about belonging and neighbourliness and community, more communitarian politics, which is where I think Labour has to go. He’s the only one [of the leadership contenders] that has got into some of that,” Cruddas said.
In a speech last night, Miliband gave an example of what Cruddas described as his “nuanced approach” to Labour’s record.
Labour should be “learning from the past but not simply repudiating it”, Miliband said.
“Tony and Gordon did great things. Really great things. But I know that in Tony’s time he did not focus on income inequalities, stopped devolution at Scotland and Wales when we should have carried it on, and too often defined himself against the party not against the Tories,” Miliband said.
“Gordon was wrong about the 10p rate, and wrongfooted in debates about the role of the state and the importance of crime and security as Labour issues. Both of them underestimated the extent to which the problems of the British economy had not been resolved by the 1980s.”
In his speech Miliband also reaffirmed his commitment to Labour having an elected chair. This may have influenced Cruddas, because he has also backed the idea and expressed interest in running for the post.