Jon Cruddas and numerous unanswered questions.
"Hand on heart, I do not want to be leader of the Labour party or subsequently prime minister. These require certain qualities I do not possess.
"The role of leader is one of the greatest honours imaginable – but it is not a bauble to aspire for. It is a duty to fulfil. I do not feel that I am in a position to deliver on the hopes and expectations that will be placed in the next leader."
Admittedly, in Cruddas' Guardian article on why he wasn't standing, he also said:
I am determined to play a full role in the re-invigoration of a party that stands as the best hope for the people of this country. But to put it simply, that role of rebuilding and energising the party is a job that doesn't have a vacancy.I would like to be involved in the debate about the future direction of the party and how we reconnect with our lost voters. But I cannot enter a leadership election just to contribute to a debate; to go into this must be on the basis of running to win and hand on heart I do not want to be leader of the Labour party or subsequently prime minister.
Even so, why just be involved in the debate about the future direction of the party when you can articulate far better than any of the leadership candidates just where Labour went wrong, as he did to quite frankly devastating effect in his speech to the Compass conference at the weekend? Diane Abbott, fine as her oratory has been on civil liberties, has not come close to putting together such an indictment of the party as it was in power, or such eloquent reasoning as to why it lost the election, while John McDonnell could never have won the election even if able to get on the ballot. Jon Cruddas, had he decided to stand and had argued in the same tenacious fashion to the membership as a whole rather than just the likes of Compass, could easily have pulled the debate leftwards and put real pressure on the Milibands; he would have been a real contender.
Why then was Cruddas so convinced that he couldn't lead the party? Is he one of those few in politics content with sitting on the backbenches as he has and just driving debate in the party? Or is it, as his actual voting record suggests, that while he talks left and enthrals and inspires those of us sympathetic to such politics, he stayed loyal to the New Labour values he so rails against when it actually mattered? There's a lot of question marks in this post for the reason that I don't know the answers; what I do know is that Cruddas could have achieved far more through actually running for leader than just coveting the position of chairman.