The dream team? Photo:Getty Images
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Deputy leader? It's a Stella for me

Prezza for Stella may sound like I’m after a lager, but I think Creasy could refresh parts of the party other candidates cannot reach.

Whilst all eyes are on the leadership race, there’s a contest that’s just as important, if not more so.

The Labour deputy ;eadership was always seen as the consolation prize for the person who failed to get the top job.

I felt this was wrong. I always believed strongly that the politics of organisation were equally as important as the politics of ideas.

A Labour leader has the direct responsibility for leading the party and convincing people that the policies are right for them and the country.

But that requires good organisation and an electoral machine. And to do that you need to motivate volunteers, increase your membership and raise funds.

That’s why I stood to be deputy leader, to be that motivator and campaigner to get Labour back to power. I stood and lost against Roy Hattersley in 1987 and Margaret Beckett in 1992.

But it was third time lucky in 1994 when Tony and I were elected Leader and Deputy. 

I stood for both posts whilst Blair only went for leader. As we waited backstage for the result I turned to him and said: “Tony, I’ve got a problem?” He looked at me nervously. “What’s that John?”he replied.

“Well I’ve only written an acceptance speech if I become deputy. If I get leader, can I borrow yours?”

From that moment on, I think we became a great team. In those three years before the election we doubled our membership and strengthened our organisation. Our ideas and organisation helped win an unprecedented three elections for Labour. Tony could concentrate on winning the election, safe in the knowledge that I had his back by building up our campaigning organisation.

That’s why the next deputy leader must be a born campaigner and organiser. You can’t do that job properly if you take a shadow ministerial brief as well. The task to rebuild our party is so immense that it needs someone focused like a laser on turning it around. We need a full-time Deputy Leader, not a Deputy Prime Minister in waiting.

And the one person who I think really gets this is Stella Creasy.

I was very impressed by her campaign against legal loan sharks and her commitment to community campaigning all year round.

I also really like her idea for the party to match funds raised by CLPs if they pledge to hit a certain target with more freedom as to what the money can be spent on.

We desperately need fresh campaigning ideas and innovative ways to raise money. Stella seems to be fizzing with ideas on turning Labour back into a sustainable campaigning party.

I think she’s got a lot to offer and I’m impressed she’s prepared to do the job full-time to get Labour ready for the electoral battles ahead.

But under our frankly bizarre leader and deputy leadership rules, the bar is too high to get on the ballot. We need as wide a field as possible. And Stella deserves to put her case to Labour members and supporters.

If I was still an MP, I would willingly nominate her myself.

But as I’m not, I really hope Labour MPs will nominate Stella so party members can have that real choice and debate on how we can become a campaigning movement again and start the journey back to Government. I also believe a Burnham-Creasy leadership could make a great team to appeal across the country. 

Prezza for Stella may sound like I’m after a lager, but I think Creasy could refresh parts of the party other candidates cannot reach.

And I’ll raise my pint to a deputy leader that can do that!



Grant Shapps on the campaign trail. Photo: Getty
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Grant Shapps resigns over Tory youth wing bullying scandal

The minister, formerly party chairman, has resigned over allegations of bullying and blackmail made against a Tory activist. 

Grant Shapps, who was a key figure in the Tory general election campaign, has resigned following allegations about a bullying scandal among Conservative activists.

Shapps was formerly party chairman, but was demoted to international development minister after May. His formal statement is expected shortly.

The resignation follows lurid claims about bullying and blackmail among Tory activists. One, Mark Clarke, has been accused of putting pressure on a fellow activist who complained about his behaviour to withdraw the allegation. The complainant, Elliot Johnson, later killed himself.

The junior Treasury minister Robert Halfon also revealed that he had an affair with a young activist after being warned that Clarke planned to blackmail him over the relationship. Former Tory chair Sayeedi Warsi says that she was targeted by Clarke on Twitter, where he tried to portray her as an anti-semite. 

Shapps appointed Mark Clarke to run RoadTrip 2015, where young Tory activists toured key marginals on a bus before the general election. 

Today, the Guardian published an emotional interview with the parents of 21-year-old Elliot Johnson, the activist who killed himself, in which they called for Shapps to consider his position. Ray Johnson also spoke to BBC's Newsnight:


The Johnson family claimed that Shapps and co-chair Andrew Feldman had failed to act on complaints made against Clarke. Feldman says he did not hear of the bullying claims until August. 

Asked about the case at a conference in Malta, David Cameron pointedly refused to offer Shapps his full backing, saying a statement would be released. “I think it is important that on the tragic case that took place that the coroner’s inquiry is allowed to proceed properly," he added. “I feel deeply for his parents, It is an appalling loss to suffer and that is why it is so important there is a proper coroner’s inquiry. In terms of what the Conservative party should do, there should be and there is a proper inquiry that asks all the questions as people come forward. That will take place. It is a tragic loss of a talented young life and it is not something any parent should go through and I feel for them deeply.” 

Mark Clarke denies any wrongdoing.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.