Profile: Blairite or Not, Dan Jarvis Does at Least Have Some Answers

When Dan Jarvis, a leading Labour backbencher, seen by many as a future leader of the Labour party set-out his vision for the future of Britain’s economy earlier in the month, one thing was clear: this guy is a rising star.

One of Tony Blair's biggest faults during his time as Prime Minister was that he failed to leave a legacy. New Labour wanted to engage with Thatcherite economics, but in a nice way. This, he felt, was how to get Labour into government. And it worked - though whether or not they were able to achieve this in a nice way is debatable.

Leading up to the 2010 election, Gordon Brown stood on a podium in the televised election debates and defended New Labour's spending spending policies. But within days of the Tories forming a coalition with the Lib Dems, Blairite MPs were already preparing the soundbites of "we made mistakes and we have to learn from them."

So after a failure over five years to come up with a coherent alternative to the Conservatives that the country could get behind, the Tories won a majority and Labour are now being led by a socialist. The right of the Labour party were flabbergasted by the recent leadership contest, but Corbyn had answers. They did not.

So when Jarvis declared that income inequality was at the heart of his economic vision, people listened.

He said: "Let’s be frank, New Labour’s approach wasn’t enough. It didn’t get at the root causes. New Labour didn’t see with sufficient clarity the downsides of globalisation. They knew it meant cheap consumer goods. But, they didn’t recognise that too often, it meant cheap labour too.”

Blairite or not, the man does at least have some answers.

For a while, Jarvis must have felt a little bit like being the new kid at school. Nobody really knows who he is, but everyone is fascinated by him. Google searches with his name are being typed furiously by hacks and politicos alike, trying to "get the skinny" on the Jarvis.

He was recently criticised by Ken Livingstone  - a rite of passage for many Labour MPs -  for receiving donations from a hedge fund, saying that it was like ‘Jimmy Savile funding a children’s group’. Unsurprisingly the controversy around these comments meant the Labour MP was left unscathed by the former Mayor of London's attacks.

if Corbyn does depart his post before 2020, a left-winger will replace him; so long as the Labour membership has Its say

Many Corbynistas might be tempted to pin him off as "one of them", a jibe often launched by the left of the party to those on the right. But he isn't "one of them" - if only in terms of his background.

During the entire time that Labour were in government,  the Barnsley Central MP served in the Parachute Regiment of the British Army. Jarvis then  ruled himself out succeeding Ed Miliband as Labour leader after the 2015 general election defeat, insisting he wanted to put his children before his immediate political career. His first wife, Caroline, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2006 and died in July 2010 at the age of 43.

He did, however, embark on maintaining his own career trajectory. Joining a wave of stinging criticism of Ed Miliband's campaign, Jarvis looked set to be a man of with some vision. 

He said: "Never again can we allow ourselves to be painted as having a problem with people eager to work hard, get on and succeed. They should know that Labour will always be their champion.

"I'm ready to serve in that rebuilding process as part of the Labour team. But I can't do that as leader at this moment and I won't be putting my name forward in the coming leadership contest." 

The probability remains for Labour's right-wingers - many of whom are still very bitter about it - that Jeremy Corbyn will remain as Labour Leader until at least 2020. The whispers on when a leadership challenge will be launched have faded, slowly but surely. And if Corbyn does depart his post before 2020, a left-winger will replace him; so long as the Labour membership has its say. 

But Jarvis would have it no other way. He is still learning the ropes of politics, for it can still debated whether or not he is even currently a political heavyweight. Every now and then he will get a chance to make a speech where he sets out some form of a vision, and the moderates will applaud and pray that Jeremy Corbyn resigns from his post sooner rather than later.

Jarvis will always be a contentious figure among the current Labour membership. Whether it is through his own doing or not, he has been made the chosen one to defeat Corbyn. How and when he will do it, nobody can be sure of. But in Jarvis, the Blairites have found their voice, and their new leader.

Will Rogers

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About the author

Will is a journalism student and a blogger/writer with a passion for politics and our society. He covers many major political events and frequently writes about the political figures who inspire or infuriate us. He is currently doing his dissertation on opinion discourse in the media, which inspired him to share some of his own opinions with Disclaimer and other publications.

Follow Will on Twitter.

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