Labour grandee to stand down

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Larry Whitty, who steered the Labour Party organisation through the choppy waters of the 1980s, has told Tony Blair that he will resign from the government after the next election.

Larry Whitty, who steered the Labour Party organisation through the choppy waters of the 1980s, has told Tony Blair that he will resign from the government after the next election.

His departure will be seen as a sign of the disillusionment of many former mainstream Labour figures with what they regard as Mr Blair's drift to the right.

Friends say that Lord Whitty has been privately disenchanted by the Iraq war, by Mr Blair's attitude to the environment, the failure to make real progress in Europe, and by the ritual attacks on Old Labour.

Lord Whitty was Labour's General Secretary from 1985 to 1994, and steered the party organisation through the expulsion of leaders of Militant Tendency, the removal of union block votes, and numerous other reforms that prepared the way for Mr Blair's election as leader.

But Mr Blair regarded him as too tied to Old Labour and persuaded him to resign, though John Prescott insisted that he be given a role in the Government. He was awarded a peerage in 1996.

After a brief period as a whip, he has served as an environment or farm minister consistently since 1998. One of his tasks was to try to steer the Bill to abolish fox hunting through a rebellious House of Lords, which ended with the Commons invoking the Parliament Act after the Lords refused to pass the legislation.

Comments