Labour MPs warn Blair of leadership bid from left

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Tony Blair's hopes of an "orderly transition of power" to Gordon Brown are dealt a blow today with a warning by Labour MPs that there will be a challenge from the left.

Tony Blair's hopes of an "orderly transition of power" to Gordon Brown are dealt a blow today with a warning by Labour MPs that there will be a challenge from the left.

Writing in The Independent, Alan Simpson, a leading member of the Campaign Group of Labour MPs, says: "Tony Blair's call for an orderly transition of leadership power is a plea for a change of leader without a change of direction. There will be no orderly succession in the leadership. One way or another, there will have to be a challenger from the left."

Asked whether he would run against Mr Brown, Mr Simpson refused to rule himself out. "All I can say is there will not be an orderly handover. There will be a challenge from the left and there could be a challenge from the right because they know their patronage will disappear."

He calls for a full-blooded left-wing agenda for the post-Blair era, including the renationalisation of the railways, higher progressive taxation, less means-testing of benefits, and measures to stop climate change.

On BBC TV's Breakfast with Frost, Peter Hain, the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, refused to rule out a "Stop Gordon" candidate, saying: "The Prime Minister said he'd serve a full term and Gordon Brown is way out in front of any possible successor. Let's wait and see."

Labour dissidents will give full vent to their anger over Mr Blair's leadership tomorrow with the launch of 40 Bills for the next session of Parliament. The MPs are furious that Mr Blair is showing no let-up in his reforming zeal despite the "bloody nose" he suffered at the general election. Mr Hain made it clear that tomorrow's Queen's Speech setting out the programme will be used to drive forward the radical reforms. He said there would be "greater momentum, I think you'll see in the Queen's Speech, than we had after our 2001 victory when there was a period of hiatus".

Labour troublemakers are infuriated by Mr Blair's ennoblement of his policy adviser, Andrew Adonis, and appointment as an Education minister and are planning to derail the Government's manifesto commitment to expand 200 city academies. Some senior cabinet ministers also share their doubts about the policy, and have privately questioned how promoting city academies in middle-class areas can help the "many not the few".

Glenda Jackson, the former transport minister, said: "People have been looking to a more consensual approach. Blair's promotion of Andrew Adonis to the House of Lords is a calculated, ermine-clad V-sign directed at the PLP."

But she did not see the legislation on ID cards as the right issue on which to fight the Government. "It is clear Tony Blair is seeking to turn his legislative programme into a loyalty test of the PLP. We will not get locked into a virility test with the Prime Minister."

The dissidents are planning to discuss their strategy at a meeting at Westminster tomorrow and it will go beyond the Campaign Group to other Labour MPs for the first time to widen the coalition against some of Mr Blair's proposals. There was particular anger at the use of Patricia Hewitt, the new Health Secretary, to promote more private healthcare in the NHS. That is likely to encounter resistance from the unions to support a challenge by the left to the Chancellor, when the leadership handover takes place.

David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, gave luke-warm support to a proposal raised by the Home Office minister Hazel Blears for "yobs" to wear distinctive clothing when they do community work after probation officers raised doubts about the plan.

Comments