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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 June 2007, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Profile: Jon Cruddas

Jon Cruddas
Age: 45
Job: Backbench MP
Political Pedigree: Outspoken rebel, on the left of the party

Jon Cruddas may be disappointed to have come third in the contest to be Labour's deputy leader - but he must also take some satisfaction from finishing ahead of several much better known contenders.

As the only backbencher in the contest, he started with the disadvantage of being virtually unknown to the wider public.

But his campaign gained strong backing from the unions, and his distinctive policy platform - with its call for action on the housing crisis and job insecurity, as well as his expression of regret at voting for the Iraq war - clearly struck a chord with Labour MPs and members.

He even topped the poll by a narrow margin after the first round of voting, albeit far short of the 50% needed to secure overall victory.

The son of a seaman, Mr Cruddas made much of his working class roots - but he also has a foot in the Blairite camp.

He was deputy political secretary to Tony Blair during his first term in office before becoming an MP in 2001.

Since then he has become an outspoken critic of the New Labour project.

He is seen as on the left of the party and has rebelled against the government over the imposition of university tuition fees.

He has been a vocal opponent of the British National Party, which has tried to secure a stronghold in his east London constituency of Dagenham.

'Voice of the party'

And he has criticised Mr Blair for neglecting Labour's traditional working-class heartlands in favour of middle class swing voters in marginal constituencies.

He also called for the role of party deputy leader should be separated from the deputy prime ministership.

There's a generation of Labour politicians who are so scarred by the 1980s they think any form of debate means it's back to 1981
Jon Cruddas

"I think the deputy leader should be the voice of the party to the government," he told the BBC.

"Reaching out to our people doesn't mean coming up with better sound bites and spin - it means coming up with better policies.

"We need to reaffirm our belief in collective action -through local communities, through public services, through strong and effective trade unions.

"In the election, there will be a choice: change or more of the same. I am standing because the party needs and wants to change.

"It's time to reach out again to our natural supporters, written off for too long.

"It's time for change - and I am the candidate who will deliver it."

Union links

Mr Cruddas was brought up near Portsmouth.

He gained a PhD at the University of Warwick before he began his political life - later becoming an assistant to two Labour general secretaries from 1994.

He is a TGWU-sponsored MP, and his role in Downing Street was to be the link between government and the trade unions. He is credited with having successfully negotiated with the unions over the Employment Relations Act.

Mr Cruddas' wife was a special adviser to the late Mo Mowlam. The couple have one son.

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