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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage  

A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next

Simon Usborne
Ed Balls has ruled out a return to politics - for now  

For Labour to now turn round and rubbish what it stood for damages politics even more

Ian Birrell
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?