Coffee House

Labour conference: Jon Cruddas to create Labour’s own Big Society project

1 October 2012

Jon Cruddas is frightened. Not of what he describes as the ‘bloody big’ task of leading his party’s policy review, but of the future direction of the Conservative party. Throughout his lunchtime interview with James Purnell at the Labour party conference, Cruddas brought up Britannia Unchained, the latest book from a group of Conservative MPs about how Britain can become a world leader, and about what is currently holding the country back. The party’s policy review chief said the vision presented by those MPs was ‘quite frightening’ because of its stance that the ‘state is totally malign’, and its support for what he described as a world where ‘if you sink or fail it is because of your own calculations’. Those who have followed Cruddas around the fringes from the Liberal Democrats to this Labour conference will note that this is not the first time he’s brought up this book: to him, it’s a sign of the direction of the party he is fighting.

Because there is no critique of this view within the Conservative party, Cruddas told the event, those ‘economic liberal’ MPs will take over the dominant narrative. The previous ‘compassionate Conservatism’ project had collapsed at a quicker rate than he’d ever seen before, he added.

Claim your gift

So where does that leave Labour? Cruddas was very clear that the neo-liberal strand within the party that the unions are so keen to kill off was ‘not dead at all’, and that what was really interesting was how virulent that strand still is. He also painted a fascinating picture of where he wants to take the policy review, without actually giving the game away about any detail at all.

One of the elements of the Conservative vision that has caught his eye is the Big Society, and to that end, he has launched a work programme on how Labour can replicate that within its own party ideology. Some of the areas that these programmes will consider will be loneliness, mental health and welfare, and they will create Labour’s own version of the Big Society – going under a different name, of course.

Cruddas himself is clear about how he sees society: made up of gangs, communities, families, friendships and neighbours. But he was also clear that just because something fascinates him, there is no guarantee that it will become a dominant part of Labour thinking for 2015.  For him, Labour is ‘my team’, and just as he’s not in this game to become a minister, he’s only here to bring them back into government rather than gain in a more direct way personally. ‘I’m not in this to get my own personal political views made into policy: I think that would be disastrous for the Labour party,’ he joked.

Give the perfect gift this Christmas. Buy a subscription for a friend for just £75 and you’ll receive a free gift too. Buy now.

Show comments
  • David Lindsay

    Only one party now advocates the Union as a first principle, and any concept of English identity. A universal postal service bound up with the monarchy. The Queen’s Highways,
    rather than toll roads owned by faraway and unstable petrostates. Her Majesty’s Constabulary, rather than the British KGB that is the impending “National Crime Agency”. Its own 1997 manifesto commitment to renationalise the railways. The National Health Service, rather than piecemeal privatised provision by the American healthcare companies that pay key Coalition figures and fund their parties. Keeping Sunday at least as special as the last Conservative Government left it.

    The restoration both of energy independence and of the economic basis of paternal authority, through the reopening of the mines promised by Ed Miliband to one hundred thousand people at the Durham Miners’ Gala. The historic regimental system, and aircraft carriers with aircraft on them. No Falkland Islands oil to Argentina. The State action necessary in order to maintain the work of charities and of churches. The State action necessary in order to maintain a large and thriving middle class. A referendum on continued membership of the EU, explicitly and repeatedly ruled out by David Cameron and William Hague, but never by Ed Miliband. A free vote on the redefinition of marriage, very recently and half-heartedly conceded to Conservative MPs, but always guaranteed to Labour ones, whatever a London-only newspaper effectively run out of Boris Johnson’s office might pretend.

    Labour is reverting to its historical norm as the voice and vehicle of a many-rooted social democratic patriotism in all directions, inclusive of social and cultural conservatives as
    well as social and cultural liberals, inclusive of rural as well as urban and suburban voices, inclusive of provincial as well as metropolitan contributions, and inclusive of religious as well as secular insights. The 2010 intake is very largely “classic Labour”, the boys in their dads’ suits having decided to sit out the hard work of Opposition. As a result, Labour has long enjoyed a commanding lead both in the opinion polls and at the actual polls.

    But Labour came third or below in 211 constituencies in 2010, mostly places where it always does, and in most of those pretty distantly. However, the Coalition has changed the weather. The SNP will also be finished for at least a generation after the loss of the
    independence referendum in 2014. Imagine a formation which, while welcoming Labour’s present return to the historical norm set out above, was for that very reason fully aware that someone needed to keep Labour on that track or else stand ready to replace it.

    Properly organised and sufficiently funded, such a formation could expect to win in 2015 about one third of those seats, i.e., around 70. That would be enough to make a very
    significant difference indeed, even to hold the balance of power in a hung Parliament. But it could only happen if the unions, most obviously, stumped up the cash. And it could only happen if Labour, with no realistic hope of winning those seats, stood aside in that formation’s favour.

    That would also challenge the cuckoos to set up openly on the basis of their intolerantly neo-Blairite position: metropolitan, urban, secular, socially liberal, Eurofederalist, supportive of American neoconservatism even when that is out of office in the United
    States, anti-monarchist and anti-Commonwealth, happy to see the Union dissolve, devoted to casino banking as the sum total of the economy, and supportive of an Israeli Government which is now Far Right on both economics and ethnicity. Good luck to them under their true colours at the ballot box.

  • Brian Lovett

    Was he slapping James Purnell away during this monologue? “Down boy, get off, not now!”

  • Baron

    the biggest, the saddest, the most inexcusable boil of the Cruddas’s take on things that begets the mushrooming of the entitlement culture isn’t the cost of it, it is that it turns an ever growing chunk of the unwashed into dependable zombies, societal outcasts, unwanted human debris incapable of taking decisions without the help of one state agency or another, and resorting to alcohol abuse, drug taking, irresponsible sexual behavior.


      Indeed Baron.
      And where are all these poor sorry miserable individuals to be found? Exactly. In Labour controlled towns and cities where government spending is up to 80% of the local GDP. Isn’t it time that those of influence noticed this night following day situation? All autonomy removed, these individuals just get what they’re given, and this misery is what the Left crow about and wish for us all. Well, I’ve an idea for Cruddas’ Big Community – everyone in the Labour Family from Ed and Len down should voluntarily (I use that word in the socialist sense of course!) put all income above the national average into a Big Community Pot to be used for building their new Jerusalem and if socialists are all so nice, and numerous, as they keep telling us they are, I imagine Cruddas’ Coffers will be spilling over in no time!

  • Tarka the Rotter

    sorry….is called The English….lost it for a moment there!

  • Tarka the Rotter

    Mmmmm well one of these ‘gangs’ are called The English, and we are pissed off!


    Are any of these gangs, communities, families etc. made up of individuals? How the Left love to categorise, though to the detriment of us all, they still can’t even entertain the concept of a category of one.

Can't find your Web ID? Click here