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: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Ashdown Group: Automated Tester / Test Analyst - .Net / SQL - Cheshire

£32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...

Day In a Page

Read Next
US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping have a drink after agreeing a deal on carbon emissions  

Beijing must face down the perils of being big and powerful – or boom may turn to bust

Peter Popham
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook  

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

Simon Kelner
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
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
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
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
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?
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
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage