Cruddas vs. Purnell

There’s been some surprise about the result of a Populus poll commissioned by The Times in which a sample of 20 voters said the most attractive candidates for Labour leader seemed to be either Jon Cruddas or James Purnell.

But the pairing of these two hasn’t come out of nowhere. Cruddas – a member of the left-of-centre Compass group, and Purnell, the Work and Pensions Secretary whom my editor calls a Blairite, have little in common ideologically. You won’t hear Purnell calling for a “lurch to the centre-left” as Cruddas did. But they both came across to the panel as honest and to the point.

That result is not anomalous. Both of them are articulate, persuasive public speakers – in my current view, Purnell has the edge here – and both have the knack of making people feel they, the speakers, empathise with them. I once watched Purnell address the Fabian Society. Despite arguably being not as lefty as the Fabians*, he managed to come across not only as someone who speaks authoritatively, but as someone who is very much on his audience’s side.

Both Cruddas and Purnell were talked of as leadership material before Miliband came along with that Guardian article. This poll, I believe, simply acknowledges that they’re not going away.

*That’s to say, the Fabians are more likely to call for statist solutions, such as state provision of essential services instead of farming them out to private contractors (as Purnell announced this year with welfare to work), and for progressive taxation, such as a higher level of income tax for the richest. They have also this year called for NHS presription charges to be abolished.

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One Response to “Cruddas vs. Purnell”

  1. What happened to James Purnell’s sideburns « René Lavanchy’s Blog Says:

    […] my efforts with something undemanding. I speak of the renowned mutton-chop sideburns of “ultra-Blairite” Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell, which disappeared earlier this year, and which I […]

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