Matthew Norman on Monday: ‘British Obama’ Chuka carries Blairite torch

Plus: Brown-blasting Jack set up a Straw man,  David Cameron gets catty with his former idol and who ever heard of Lynton Crosby?

Share

Even Ed Miliband’s detractors concede that he has nimbly steered the SS One Nation Labour around the iceberg of civil war, but is he losing control of his rudder? While fans of factional strife thrilled to Jack Straw’s attack on Gordon Brown, it’s the acclamation of Chuka Umunna as bearer of the Blairite standard that concerns us first. Fears that the shadow business secretary is fatally riven by self-effacement – you may recall his distress when someone at his then law firm hacked his Wikipedia entry to call him as “potentially the British Obama” –  happily recede.  Judging by a Financial Times profile, indeed, he is ready for prime time. Chuka has been seeing a fair bit of Mr Tony Blair, we learn, who thinks him “very smart”, while Peter Mandelson believes “he’s on a trajectory which could take him far”. Meanwhile, Chuka, who (presumably at Mr T’s behest) has had an audience with Bill Clinton, tells George Parker of his wish to help people “make their first million” – a thought less in keeping with Little Ed’s tone on personal wealth than with Mandy’s intense relaxedness about filthy riches. In a text message exchange with this column, Mandy denies that he is running Chuka, and we take him at his word. But with the polls so worrisome for Labour, and the waters of electoral nerviness rising towards the plimsoll line of panic, it behoves us to ask whether Chuka’s new friends are trying to persuade him that he is the Fletcher Christian to the younger Milibandroid’s Captain Bligh.

Brown-blasting Jack set up a Straw man

Back to Jack Straw, who lashes out at Gordon Brown over his visit to troops in Basra in the autumn of 2007, identifying this as a brazen bid to deflect attention from the Tory conference at which George Osborne made his inheritance tax bribe. It is not an original point. Yet however delayed, this accusation that Gordon abused his office carries crushing force from one whose role in facilitating the handing of Libyan dissidents to Colonel Gadaffi remains unclear. No one has Jack’s integrity. How a man of such steadfast principle masked his disgust at the grubby tactics of his colleagues for so long, I will never understand.

Cameron gets catty with his former idol

It must be the heat, but this infernal fad for skirmishing afflicts David Cameron and his one-time idol Mr  Tony Blair. “I cannot be expected to know the client list of everybody I speak with,” the PM snippily responded to questions about Lynton Crosby’s tobacco links, as if he may once have met election supremo for two minutes at a drinks party. “Do I have to know who all Tony Blair’s other clients are? If I did, I don’t think I have enough paper in my office to write them all down.” Miiiiiiaaaoooww. Mr T’s responded that talking to the PM about the Middle East, on which he continues to sprinkle the magic dust of peace, can’t be compared to lobbying for fag firms. The bitch-slapping must cease.  It would be a wicked blow to national morale if the love match that sustained us through the economic gloom  were disbanded now with the green shoots of recovery apparently visible.

Who ever heard of Lynton Crosby?

Speaking of Crosby, we seem to have exaggerated his influence. “Ed Miliband’s attack on David Cameron over the scrapping of plain cigarette packs is a pathetic attempt to spread the sleaze in the wake of the Unite scandal,” rails a Sun leader. “He wants an enquiry because a Tory election aide no one has ever heard of has links to a tobacco giant.” Technically this is incorrect. Take the Sun’s own Trevor Kavanagh, the shorthand secretary who transcribes Rupert Murdoch’s innermost thoughts. Trev has heard of him and regards him as more than just an aide.  When Crosby joined the PM’s office, Trev described him as an “election mastermind”.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
One 200ml bottle of codeine linctus contains three times the equivalent level of morphine you'd get in casualty if you broke your wrist  

The ‘war on drugs’ consistently ignores its greatest enemy: over-the-counter painkillers

Janet Street-Porter
The author contemplating what could have been  

I was a timid, kind, gentle-natured child, later to be spurned and humiliated – in short, the perfect terrorist-in-waiting

Howard Jacobson
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable