A curious email was sent out this afternoon, purporting to be from Peter Slowe, chair of the Labour Finance and Industry Group. In it, Dr Slowe apparently called for Harriet Harman to quit. Yes, really.
UPDATE: Slowe has said it’s nothing to do with him – instead he says it was a mistaken publicity attempt by his PR advisers.
In truth, it’s not as if Slowe is a business colossus who bestrides international markets – he isn’t the head of the CBI or chief executive of BP or similar. Still, this is Labour’s main link group with the business world; and it’s chief (if the email is genuine) is calling for the deputy leader to step down.
Slowe has form: You may remember that last summer he said that Lord Mandelson should be leader of the party.
Here is the email in full.
LABOUR MUST DITCH HARMAN TO WIN ELECTION SAYS CHAIR OF LABOUR FINANCE AND INDUSTRY GROUP
Dr Peter Slowe says:
“Labour must ditch Harriet Harman and any lurch to the left to win at the general election. Maintaining the centre ground is vital. We were voted in on a Blairite ticket and must maintain our position in the centre, not giving the Tories any dry land to occupy. By Gordon Brown being weak, creating concessions, and allowing the Left wing personal agenda of Harriet Harman in any way shape or form to change election strategy, will spell disaster, or a hung parliament.“
I’ve finally got hold of Dr Slowe, who is in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia (seriously). He says he is terribly embarrassed and the whole thing was dreamed up without his knowledge by the PR company for Projects Abroad – the volunteer service group which he heads.
“It’s ridiculous and embarrassing,” he tells me. “This was an ill-considered idea by my company’s PR company. I have suspended them.”