Deputy leadership candidates ‘should quit cabinet’

Cabinet ministers standing for the Labour deputy leadership should quit their jobs to allow a proper debate, the one non-ministerial candidate has declared.

Jon Cruddas, the former Downing Street aide and MP for Dagenham, condemned his rivals for not engaging with him over policy because they were in government.

Declared candidates so far include Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain, education secretary Alan Johnson, constitutional affairs minister Harriet Harman, and Hilary Benn, the international development secretary. Commons leader Jack Straw may also stand.

“We’re going to lose this opportunity to renew the party. The remedy is to use the deputy leadership to get them all to resign,” Mr Cruddas told the New Statesman.

“They should all walk out and we should all have a genuine debate, rather than all this briefing, leaking and playing both sides: in the cabinet and simultaneously out of the cabinet.”

Mr Cruddas – who is building his campaign on the need to rebuild the Labour party from the grassroots – was also sceptical about the recent remarks by the deputy leadership candidates designed to set out their radical credentials.

“They’re playing smoke and mirrors to find themselves. After ten years of doing the
nodding-dog routine, they try to reinvent themselves as more radical,” he said.

Recently, Mr Hain took a pot shot at the US government, saying it was the most right-wing administration in Washington “in living memory” and noting this had made relations with a Labour government in London difficult over the years.

In addition, reports suggest Ms Harman will argue this weekend for the attorney general’s legal advice to the government to be published, saying the row over the legality of the Iraq war and the BAE-Saudi corruption probe has undermined public confidence.

“It is a contradiction in terms to have an accountable office-holder who is not able to publish to those whom he is accountable the advice he has given,” she will say, according to The Guardian.

“It is not enough for government ministers to say we are advised that it is lawful Backbenchers, let alone the wider public, want to see for themselves what the arguments are.”