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Ed's First Shadow Band

by Helen Tue Oct 12th, 2010 at 09:25:50 AM EST

Well, Ed Miliband has created the Labour Shadow Cabinet and viewpoints are still all over the shop.

Don Paskini has a good point to make;

When he is elected leader, Ed Miliband will come under the most terrific pressure from the opposition, media and Blairites over his supposedly radical and left-wing policies. If David were elected leader, the main pressure which he would face would be to win over and enthuse the people who supported his brother or Ed Balls. To unite the Labour Party, Ed Miliband would need to appeal to the Right, David to the Left

Which kind of makes the case for Alan Johnston. He is definitely of the Blairite Right. Both Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper are of of the left and both are perhaps too steeped in the minutiae of economics to really tell the wood of Opposition from the trees of individual policies.

Plus there appears to be a widespread (ie all journalists agree anyway) that Ed Balls would be too bombastic facing Osborne, which probably says less about Balls than it does the trite cw of the media. and Cooper isn't trusted to be independent of her husband.


But equally there is distress that the talents of Balls and Cooper are being expended in ministries (Home office and Foreign secretary) where they are known to have vast areas of disinterest. But you couldn't put Johnston in either of those given his own shabby record as Home secretary under Brown.

Steve Richards in the Independent sums up the views of the Brownites who are chafing at Balls failing to get the shadow chancellor appointment;-

That is why Miliband was mistaken in his appointment of shadow Chancellor. Look back at successful oppositions and the shadow Chancellor was almost as pivotal as the leader. Up to 1979, from the moment of Thatcher's election as leader of the opposition in 1975, Geoffrey Howe worked around the clock to prepare practical policies. His first Budget had been written before the 1979 election. After 1994, Gordon Brown did the same, making Labour credible, popular and with subtle plans to redistribute and invest. Titanic politics. Osborne is the other example of an epic shadow Chancellor, although his policy-making was more erratic than the other two.

Miliband was lucky to have the choice of two economists with political guile who would have worked around the clock to get Labour in a credible and popular position by the next election, and who would then be ready to enter the Treasury with their radical plan. Ed Balls or Yvette Cooper could have done the job. Balls was especially well qualified and would have exposed the weaknesses in Osborne's armoury at the same time. Instead, Labour's new leader went for the quiet life and selected the affable and competent Alan Johnson. The appointment does not feel as significant and portentous as the selection of Messrs Howe, Brown and Osborne in the past, figures with a gargantuan appetite for power and a sense of economic direction. I understand why Miliband made his moves, but they were the wrong ones in an otherwise composed and courageous start.

So maybe, in disappointing nearly everybody, Miliband has got it right. Especially when I also read an intriguing idea that the appointment of Angela Eagle to the shadow Treasury team is symptomatic of Ed's longer term strategy. She recently wrote this;-

The so-called deficit `emergency' was ironically caused not by profligate government spending but by a failure of the market-based international banking system and the triumph of unbridled greed amongst the super rich. David Cameron's immediate excuse to act was the deficit generated by the previous Labour government to stabilise our banks and successfully mitigate the social effects of the global recession which followed the credit crunch. He did so by launching an assault on the post-war state settlement more extreme than anything Mrs Thatcher's most swivel-eyed fanatics could have fantasised about. The theatrically named `emergency budget' began this process and the October spending review will continue it.

        That there was no electoral mandate to introduce the largest public expenditure cuts in British peacetime history is clear. Those who voted Liberal Democrat had a right to assume that their chosen party would stick with the economic policy clearly set out in their manifesto at the election. Like Labour's, this emphasised the danger of cutting the deficit too far or too fast while economic recovery was still fragile. In fact it was this economic position which achieved majority endorsement once the votes were counted.

All of which is highly suggestive that this will be the guiding principle of Labour's developing economic policy. Ed had to put the few Big Beasts he has available into prominent positions, but it means that Eagle is free to work under the radar and make the running without running foul of greater egos or being concerned while leaving the better wit of Johnston to the job of smacking Osborne about.

Reading all the  runes I suspect that Ed has decided to put in place markers until the dust dies down with a view to seeing how things develop and possibly having a reshuffle early next summer. He could be playing a longer game than the media suspect

Display:
Full list of the Shadow Cabinet here.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 12th, 2010 at 12:26:57 PM EST
What the Economist says:

Ed Miliband's shadow cabinet: Labour's new line-up | The Economist

Overall, the shadow cabinet looks a tad more left-wing than the previous one. There are fewer Blairites and many of the surviving ones have been given relatively minor roles, such as Liam Byrne (cabinet office) and Caroline Flint (communities and local government). That the closest thing to a New Labour figure in the top four jobs is Mr Johnson, a former trade-union man, will encourage Mr Miliband's Tory opponents to continue labelling him "Red Ed". There are also lots of women in Labour's team, some well-known (such Ms Harman, Ms Cooper and Tessa Jowell, the Olympics spokesperson) but many who will be new to the public, including Mary Creagh and Meg Hillier, who are responsible for the environment and energy respectively. Measured by sheer talent, the new shadow cabinet may be just a bit weaker than the last one. This was partly unavoidable, as big figures such as Alistair Darling and Jack Straw have gone to the backbenches. But this has been compounded by the election of so many untried names by MPs.

The biggest conundrum is Mr Johnson. His genial charm and his rise from a seriously deprived childhood could make life tough for George Osborne, the chancellor, who is easy to characterise as an out-of-touch son of privilege. Mr Johnson is also centrist on most things. On the other hand, he is not renowed for his technocratic mind, and the treasury brief is among the most intellectually demanding. Neither does he have the luxury of time to learn. Mr Osborne's comprehensive spending review will be delivered on October 20th.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 12th, 2010 at 12:27:27 PM EST
I am entertained by the fear that everybody seems to have that the leader of a supposedly leftish political party might have leftish views.

given the devastation that financier capitalism has wrought of late, I might have imagined that alternate views would be welcome

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Oct 12th, 2010 at 12:47:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know better than that.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 12th, 2010 at 01:03:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but ... but..{hangs head in shame}

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Oct 12th, 2010 at 01:47:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What the Daily Mail says:

(no, don't let's have that).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 12th, 2010 at 12:28:17 PM EST
Something along the lines of "Vote for Red Ed the Trot and your first born son will die" I imagine

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Oct 12th, 2010 at 12:45:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, but you forgot ruthless Red Ed.

And some nonsense about "a glum mum and an attack dog".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 12th, 2010 at 12:48:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What's the relative roles of Treasury and Chancellor? Is it a case of the former taking in taxes and the latter spending money, the other way around, or something else?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Oct 12th, 2010 at 01:13:57 PM EST
The Treasury is the govt dept responsible for the well being of the British economy. Unfortunately, as in most other countries, it is entirely the creature of the financiers whose priorities are more those of the City than the country as a whole.

The Chancellor and the First Secretary to the Treasury are both political role and may be viewed as principal and deputy. However, there is a complication that often the Chancellor is developing the politics of economic policy while the first secretary is more concerned with operational matters

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Oct 12th, 2010 at 01:54:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's hope whoever he chooses is as effective as he seems to have been:


First blood goes to Ed Miliband. It's startling to see Cameron brought so suddenly back to earth.

By Ian Dunt

We haven't seen David Cameron suffer like that for some time. Ed Miliband was cold, clinical and effective. This wasn't quite a demolition, but it was complete deconstruction of the prime minister's argument.

Some would call it passive aggressive, and indeed you can imagine Miliband gets pretty weird when he has a barny with the girlfriend. Personally, I thought he was like Terminator: emotionless, accurate and dangerous.

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/blogs/talking_politics/comment-terminator-miliband-ruins-cameron-p138906.ht ml



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Oct 13th, 2010 at 06:22:29 PM EST
I imagine Miliband made a political calculation, that Balls and Cooper would have more independence and be a potential threat whereas Johnson will let the leader dominate on economic policy.

Some of the people elected to the shadow cabinet are quite spectacularly obscure. Mary Creagh - who the hell is she? On the other hand there is some dead wood remaining. Tessa Jowell, left responsible for nothing except commenting on the Olympics, seems not to be in the leader's confidence.

One interesting point is that, as no Welsh MP got elected to the shadow cabinet, Peter Hain got to be one of Ed's wild card picks as shadow Welsh Secretary. Is Labour in Wales so devoid of talent or have the promising young politicians all gone to the Welsh Assembly.

by Gary J on Mon Oct 18th, 2010 at 07:00:19 PM EST
The theory is that too many Welsh MP's stood for election, splitting their votes

BBC News - Labour's shadow cabinet will have Welsh MP

  • Peter Hain - 97
  • Chris Bryant - 77
  • Kevin Brennan - 64
  • David Hanson - 38
  • Ian Lucas - 34
  • Wayne David - 30
  • Huw Irranca-Davies - 28
  • Alun Michael - 11
  • Candidates polling 100 votes or more made the shadow cabinet


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Oct 18th, 2010 at 07:44:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree the Welsh MPs split their votes too much (which is why Labour should us a proportional system instead of the bloc vote, to elect the shadow cabinet).

I am currently watching the BBC Parliament channel, where by coincidence Chris Bryant is leading for Labour on the committee stage of the Parliamentary elections legislation. I think he has more of a political future than Peter Hain has left.

by Gary J on Tue Oct 19th, 2010 at 02:29:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree the Welsh MPs split their votes too much (which is why Labour should us a proportional system instead of the bloc vote, to elect the shadow cabinet).

I am currently watching the BBC Parliament channel, where by coincidence Chris Bryant is leading for Labour on the committee stage of the Parliamentary elections legislation. I think he has more of a political future than Peter Hain has left.

by Gary J on Tue Oct 19th, 2010 at 02:31:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To unite the Labour Party, Ed Miliband would need to appeal to the Right, David to the Left

So Ed has to appeal to the right, but no doubt if David had won, the theory would be that the party had decided to follow on the blairite route, and so must carry on to the right centre.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Oct 18th, 2010 at 07:47:56 PM EST


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