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Coffee House

Douglas Alexander: Labour hasn’t fired Arnie Graf as election guru

30 March 2014

10:43 AM

30 March 2014

10:43 AM

Ed Miliband tried to reassure his MPs this week that the party just needed to weather a temporary blip. But one question the Labour leader will be (or should be) contemplating which is quite separate from the squally polls is whether his top team can repair increasingly public tensions which are as much about personality as they are about strategy. The Mail on Sunday reports another fissure between Douglas Alexander and Michael Dugher, while Andrew Rawnsley has a useful guide to the major fault lines in the party. This morning on Marr, Douglas Alexander was asked to comment on reports that his party had fired Arnie Graf as community organising election supremo. He replied:

‘First of all, we haven’t and secondly only on Monday we appointed our hundredth community organiser across our key seats in the country. He’s going to be involved in the general election campaign, absolutely. Listen: the work that he started is being taken forward: we’ve got a hundred organisers across the country. We didn’t even have a hundred organisers in 1997 when we won our historic victory.

‘The difference is the Labour party’s membership is growing. We’re up against a party that even in the key seats, the Conservatives now has halved its membership since David Cameron became leader, less than 100,000 members, average age 69 and rising. The Conservative party are a party in retreat and Labour actually is advancing in those critical marginal seats where we’re actually going to see the outcome of this coming general election.’

Those words ‘listen: the work that he started is being taken forward’ don’t suggest a particularly prominent role for Graf in the months ahead. Allies of Graf won’t just be furious with Alexander over this: they’ve been agitating in private for Ed Miliband to protect those in his camp who are pushing for a visionary and ambitious election campaign, such as Graf and Jon Cruddas.

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