Does Douglas Alexander’s comeback herald the return of Labour’s Blairites?

Eight years after he was dramatically unseated by the SNP juggernaut on the 2015 basic election, former cupboard minister Douglas Alexander is in search of a Westminster comeback in a key goal seat for Scottish Labour. 

Alexander, who held a number of cupboard posts underneath prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, has been nominated to face for Scottish Labour within the swing seat of East Lothian. He’ll now face Alba deputy chief Kenny MacAskill, who gained the seat for the SNP from a Labour incumbent on the 2019 basic election with a 3,886 majority. 

East Lothian might be a prime goal for Scottish Labour when the following Westminster election is fought, and Alexander will fancy his probabilities. Current polls have forecast that Labour will decide up a handful of MPs in Scotland if present voting intentions maintain regular. And the presence of a powerful Alba candidate and SNP-defector in East Lothian, who might break up the pro-independence vote, means Alexander has chosen his seat effectively.

Asserting his choice on Twitter on Sunday, Mr Alexander wrote: “He’s working! Humbled and grateful to be overwhelmingly chosen at present by native get together members as Scottish Labour’s candidate for East Lothian.

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“Change is coming to our nation and I’m decided to play my half by profitable East Lothian again for Scottish Labour”.

Alexander’s candidacy comes greater than 25 years after he was first elected to the commons, profitable the then-safe Labour seat of Paisley South seat in a by-election in November 1997. 

As a brand new MP, Alexander shortly gained the belief of Tony Blair, serving to the management coordinate Labour’s profitable election marketing campaign in 2001 as a junior minister. Alexander was rewarded with elevation to the cupboard, changing into chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster in 2003. From 2006-2007, Alexander held the posts of transport secretary and secretary of state for Scotland concurrently — doubtlessly giving some perception into his political abilities. And at last, when Gordon Brown took over as Labour chief in 2007, Alexander was made secretary of state for worldwide improvement. He held this publish till the 2010 basic election, which ushered David Cameron into Downing Avenue. 

Alexander’s file in authorities might be a really beneficial asset to Keir Starmer’s Labour get together if it wins the following basic election. Certainly, of the just about 30 MPs within the shadow cupboard, solely two — Yvette Cooper and Ed Miliband — have been secretaries of state. There are then solely 4 others — David Lammy, John Healey, Pat McFadden and Sir Alan Campbell — who’ve held junior ministerial posts. In complete, some 21 of Sir Keir’s prime crew, together with the chief of the opposition himself and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, have solely ever been opposition MPs. 

Alexander’s comeback additionally has necessary political and ideological implications. As a key member of each Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s administrations, the previous shadow overseas secretary is an archetypal New Labour darling and determine from the get together’s centre-left. 

This has opened Alexander as much as some criticism from the get together’s left, with one supply from the grassroots left-wing group Momentum telling The Mirror: “It’s the full-blooded restoration of the New Labour ancien régime”.

Nonetheless, Labour deputy chief Angela Rayner denied on Monday that Alexander’s comeback represented a “return of the Blairites”. She advised Instances Radio:

We’re seeing a return of Labour completely dedicated to being the following authorities to place the folks of this nation first and to clear up the disastrous financial mess that the Conservatives have made. … That is in regards to the Labour Get together being severe about being the get together for presidency

Rayners’ feedback are maybe the newest sign of how far the New Labour picture has been rehabilitated in Starmer’s Labour Get together. The legacy of each Tony Blair and Gordon Brown had been by means of a interval of sustained assault underneath the management of Jeremy Corbyn (2015-2020). 

Sir Keir has already sought the recommendation of  former prime minister Gordon Brown as a part of a really public session on constitutional reform; the Labour chief can also be regarded as counselled by New Labour spinners Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson in non-public. Tellingly, Mandelson even chaired the so-called “secret” Brexit summit — presumably on the behest of Sir Keir. Additionally in attendance was former new Labour minister and shadow overseas secretary David Lammy. 

Alexander’s comeback is subsequently an indication of the occasions in Labour get together politics. The main focus now turns as to if another former New Labour ministers will attempt their probabilities at a return to frontline politics. Among the many names being talked about are former shadow chancellor Ed Balls and, after all, one David Miliband.