Unless I am very much mistaken, Diane Abbott is the only member of the Campaign Group to be one of the 49 candidates for the Shadow Cabinet, and not one of the very interesting list of those who nominated John McDonnell without being Campaign Group members has felt able to put up. The second point, especially, is a very great shame indeed. Jon Cruddas is also a notable absentee, the one non-fresher who could be forgiven for having supported David Miliband, since he had obviously taken temporary leave of his senses.
Kevan Jones is giving it a go, though. I hope that he gets on, because that will bump up to one hundred per cent the current ninety-nine per cent certainty that he will be the Labour candidate for the new seat within the expanded boundaries of which I sit as I am writing this. His nomination papers will then be far more notable for who has not signed them than for who has, and one really does have to wonder who would turn out to leaflet for him across great tracts of his new patch. He himself certainly has no intention of going there. Ever.
And it will be an AV election. Assuming (and we can do a lot more than that in the seat as envisaged, especially in profoundly anti-Kevan areas) enough hardcore pro-life, pro-family, pro-worker and anti-war votes to prevent early elimination, that creates quite an opportunity for a candidate who will give a voice to those whose priorities include the Welfare State, workers’ rights, trade unionism, the co-operative movement, consumer protection, strong communities, conservation rather than environmentalism, fair taxation, full employment, public ownership, proper local government, a powerful Parliament, and a base of real property for every household to resist both over-mighty commercial interests and an over-mighty State, while having a no less absolute commitment to any or all of the monarchy, the organic Constitution, national sovereignty, civil liberties, the Union, the Commonwealth, the countryside, grammar schools, traditional moral and social values, controlled importation and immigration, and a realistic foreign policy.
A voice to those who are aware of, who understand, who value and who draw on the Radical Liberal, Tory populist, trade union, co-operative, Christian Socialist, Social Catholic and Distributist, and other roots of the Labour Movement, rejecting cultural Marxism no less comprehensively than they reject economic Marxism, and vice versa. A voice to those who, with Herbert Morrison, “have never seen any conflict between Labour and what are known as the middle classes”, and who, with Aneurin Bevan, denounce class war, calling instead for “a platform broad enough for all to stand upon” and for the making of “war upon a system, not upon a class”.
An opportunity to give a national platform and profile to a candidate who is part of the alliance of the traditional Right and the traditional Left against the neoconservative war agenda and its assaults on liberty at home, including against any new Cold War with either or both of Russia and China. Who is part of the socially and culturally conservative, strongly patriotic tendencies within the British Left’s traditional electoral base. Who recognises that we cannot deliver the welfare provisions and the other public services that our people have rightly come to expect unless we know how many people there are in this country, unless we control immigration properly, and unless we insist that everyone use spoken and written English to the necessary level.
A candidate who refuses to allow climate change to be used as an excuse to destroy or prevent secure employment, to drive down wages or working conditions, to arrest economic development around the world, to forbid the working classes and non-white people from having children, to inflate the fuel prices that always hit the poor hardest, or to restrict either travel opportunities or a full diet to the rich. And who could therefore co-operate as closely as possible with the forces of provincial, rural, protectionist, church-based, conservative, mind-our-own-business Toryism, forces set free by electoral reform from tendencies variously metropolitan, urban, capitalist, secular, libertarian and make-the-world-anew.
Imagine if even one such MP were returned in 2015, assuming that Rod Liddle was not, after all, the Labour MP for South Shields from this year or next. Imagine the effect that it would have, especially if it removed someone who would otherwise have become a Cabinet Minister. The combination of AV, the new and larger boundaries, and the visceral loathing of Kevan Jones among the politically active and others in important parts of that new constituency, makes such a return a very great deal more than plausible here. If we can be bothered. In the meantime, good luck in the Shadow Cabinet election, Kevan.