Lest I be accused of denigrating Jon Cruddas, it has to be said that he has emerged as one of the true victors of the Labour deputy leadership contest. To come third, even if not within the membership college, was a real achievement for a candidate who has never had ministerial experience.
Reading Brown’s speech, he has won at least two other victories: firstly, he has got the Labour Party – and everyone else – talking about housing again. For me this is one of the most important issues that must be tackled over the next few years, and a crucial tool in the battle for intergenerational equity and against the extreme right. Of course, the fact that the Housing Minister since before the stone age happens to be married to Gordon Brown’s representative on Earth does suggest that she is not about to be sacked for failing to make progress on this issue, but we can at least hope she will be moved sideways.
Secondly, his pledge to not accept a ministerial post if elected has resulted in Brown pledging that the new deputy leader will do precisely that, making it analagous to the Lib Dems’ Federal President.
I don’t agree with Cruddas on everything, and certainly some of his statements such as his support for raising the basic rate of income tax were too much in Labour’s comfort zone, but the fact that he has done so well in pushing the party’s internal debate forward is to be congratulated by all of us who believe that politics ought to be more about ideas and less about personality.