David Blackburn

Purnell leaves parliament but not politics

Purnell leaves parliament but not politics
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The news that James Purnell is to stand down is a shock. It is clear that Purnell was disenchanted with Brown’s continued leadership and with the direction in which the Labour party was heading. Purnell was marginalised in parliament and his much vaunted alliance with John Cruddas came to nothing. Plainly, he believes that he can exert more influence outside the parliamentary Labour party than within it.

The Tories stole the limelight this week with their commitment to public sector co-operatives; Purnell’s response fell flat, caught in the contradictory statist language that even the most uber-Blairites cannot escape. Purnell’s journey into the wilderness is the firmest evidence that the Conservatives are now the reforming, radical partisan force in British politics, and that New Labour is moribund.

PS. Tom Harris has a post that reveals just how 'hacked-off' the reforming element of the Labour party are with Purnell's decision: it has lost one of its most assured voices.

UPDATE: You can read Purnell's statement in full here. He sounds like another who's contracted Ann Widdecombe syndrome: just had enough of Westminster.