Sunday 7 June 2009

Purnell is suspiciously French, says MacShane

Given that my friend and Fabian Executive colleague Denis MacShane is as laudably Europhile as it gets in the Labour party - and one of the few MPs capable of giving an off-the-cuff run-down of the specific electoral challenges facing the Socialists or Social Democrats in France, Germany, Hungary, Romania or anywhere else - I am not sure that pursuing against James Purnell the line of attack which the Bush Republicans used against John Kerry - that he seems suspiciously French - is his best ever idea.

MacShane is rather associated with the Blairite wing of New Labour, though is very much a party loyalist. He writes in the Yorkshire Post.

Jim Purnell is like the Conservatives' John Redwood. A clever clogs intellectual fizzing with new ideas and as smart as buttons on the seminar circuit. But political bottom and judgment? Hmm. Mr Purnell was educated in France and was trained in the rigorous school of French intellectualism. It does not fit the messy pragmatic rambling nature of British political life where the theatrical gesture is laughed at more than admired.

Denis has never been a great fan of the non-modernising French left - where the Socialists have had a terrible night, as Sarkozy bucks the anti-government mood across the continent - but then I am not sure James Purnell is quite of that persuasion either.

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