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5 September 2008

Charles Clarke, the New Statesman and the future of the Labour Party

The former Home Secretary's article in this week's New Statesman whipped up a storm, but what's the

By Martin Bright

I’ve been asked some interesting questions about the background to Charles Clarke’s intervention in the New Statesman this week so it’s only fair that I should share the answers with readers of this blog.

1. Did we solicit the article or did Charles Clarke come to the NS?
We had a long-standing request with Mr Clarke for a piece about Labour’s travails and he chose this moment to accept our offer. I shouldn’t imagine his timing was accidental.
2. As the New Statesman is often seen as the “house journal” of the Brownites, is this a case of Clarke planting his tanks on the Prime Minister’s lawn?
Probably. But this characterisation of the NS is inaccurate. We are fiercely independent.
3. Were you surprised by the reaction to the piece?
When we received the article we realised that phrases like “utter destruction” and “destined for disaster” made it a hot property. But we were taken aback by the scale of the reaction considering the known hostility between Clarke and Brown.
4. What is your view of Clarke’s actions?
His analysis of the uses and abuses of “Blairism” is sound. His description of the mood of the party is pretty accurate. But I would like to know what he means when he says that he and and others will not “permit” the disaster to happen. It also confirms we in my belief that Clarke and others who were sceptical about a Brown premiership should have put up a candidate last year.
5. Is this a sign that the New Statesman has abandoned the Prime Minister?
We will maintain our position of independence and report the situation as it is. In my time at the magazine we have never been unquestioning cheerleaders for Brown. My own views on the situation are expressed in my column in this week’s New Statesman.

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