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Blair’s covert party machine and culture of manipulation to be exposed in new book

Blair SupremacyLast year a book was published – Power Trip A Decade of Policy, Plots and Spin which promised to reveal “the personal feuds, political plots, and media manipulation which lay at New Labour’s core“. It would be, promised its publishers, “a fascinating, funny, and at times shocking account of how government really works“. At the end of this month, a book is to be published which makes a similar promise, though about the party machine at New Labour’s core, rather than the government machine, and it is likely to reflect badly on Blair rather than Brown.

Unlike Power Trip, however, The Blair Supremacy is written not by a discredited spin doctor but by an esteemed academic, Lewis Minkin, Visiting Honorary Professor in the School of Politics and International Studies at the University of Leeds. He is the author of two seminal works on Labour party organisation, The Contentious Alliance (the definitive study of the relationship between the trade unions and the Labour Party) and The Labour Party Conference (the definitive study of Labour’s intra-party democracy prior to the changes of the early 1980s).

Knowing Lewis Minkin and his work, but without having yet seen the book, this will be a sober and meticulous study, a completely differnt beast from a book whose whole purpose was to sensationalise a period of Labour history. Nevertheless, it promises an account that is “revealing and at times startling” – “an extensive covert internal organisation, a culture which facilitated manipulation and what can be described as a rolling coup“. Minkin’s account, which has been able to draw on a wealth of sources unavailable to other scholars, is also described as:

groundbreaking in its investigation of the processes, methods, character and politics of party management, during a period when Blair strengthened his own position as he and his allies and managers drove the party through a ferment of new developments under the name ‘New Labour’.”

The book features chapters on such subjects as “New Labour’ and the culture of party management”, “The leader, the machine and party management”, “Managing the party conference”, and “Managing candidate selection”. It covers the new policy process, and the management of party-union relations and the national executive.

These topics also have a current resonance. The residue of Blair’s covert party machine unfortunately persists even today. Evidence of attempts by some party officials in five of the party’s regions to manipulate the outcome of the internal election to the conference arrangements committee at last year’s party conference in order to secure the election of two party whips has been provided to the party’s general secretary. We are grateful to the readers of Left Futures for responding to our appeal and providing some of this evidence, as we would be for any further information.

This is currently the subject of an inquiry under the oversight of the party chair, Angela Eagle, which will report to Labour’s national executive in due course. The two candidates who were victims of this illegitimate interference (which is contrary to the party’s staff code of conduct), Katy Clark MP and Peter Willsman, are determined to ensure that this sort of machine politics and its corruption of the party’s internal democracy ends, and will do whatever it takes to achieve that.



  1. John Reid says:

    The majorities that Wilsman and Clark lost the place to be the hosts of last years party conference,were larger than, the alleged vote rigging

    1. Conrad Landin says:

      How on earth do you know?

  2. David Pavett says:

    Sounds interesting and I definitely want to read it but at £30 I think I will have to see if my local library will get hold of a copy. How many activists will want to pay 30 quid for a detailed study of the organisational crap that is only too familiar to them? It’s too expensive. Is the price based on the assumption that university libraries will have to buy it I wonder. Tends to count the rest of us out.

    1. PoundInYourPocket says:

      I hope nobody breaks the law by buying a copy and uploading it !

    2. Jon Lansman says:

      Unfortunately, University Press prices are higher than mass circulation books. The current cheapest source is the Bookdepository at £26.35 post-free.

  3. peter willsman says:

    John Reid must have magical powers of insight!!In fact,until there has been a proper investigation we do not know who actually should have been declared the winners last year.Thanks to the request for information by LeftFutures we are getting more data all the time.It is already clear that there was a systematic effort by a number of ftos to subvert our Party’s democracy.To me this is little different to outright ballot rigging.I am on a mission to cleanse the Augean Stables!!For what it is worth, I suspect Katy would have won but for the cheating.

  4. John Reid says:

    So Peter you suspect Katy would have won, but Heidi won quite well, and unless you know that ,nearly everyone of he votes was. Dumped, I can’t see how you know this

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