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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A press image from the company  

If men are so obsessed by their genitals, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities of sex?

Chloë Hamilton
Workers clean the area in front of the new Turkish Presidential Palace prior to an official reception for Republic day in Ankara  

Up Ankara, for a tour of great crapital cities

Dom Joly
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory