Sunday, 26 September 2010

Welcome Ed!! Now where is your teamsheet?

Having just scanned my last blog we can see that I was wrong. David Miliband didn't win the Labour leadership election; his brother, Ed, whom I voted for is the new leader. In all honesty when the results were declared I really didn't mind which brother won the ballot, I was naturally delighted to see Ed win but there is a part of me that knows that David is the only finished article and the only statesman amongst the contenders.
My immediate thoughts also went to the inevitable 'Red-Ed' and 'Union backed Ed...' headlines in today's papers; and my fear that Labour will now be so far on the back foot with the press that the necessary job of winning over the public will be nigh on impossible. However, as Ed spoke yesterday and this morning to Andrew Marr, I felt that this is the right man to take Labour to the next election and that his eloquence, values and spirit will keep the movement growing and working hard across the country. I believe that the credit crunch and subsequent recession has changed Britain; not dramatically, but enough for the electorate to at least listen to new ideas, new faces and be prepared to do things differently. Our first stable (at least so far) coalition in decades is further proof of this - the unique political situation that the UK is in gives Miliband a mandate to offer some radicalism, and hopefully he will.
His greatest strength will be the team he has around him. Despite the best efforts of the media this leadership election was fought in good spirit; the candidates displayed the utmost respect for one another and Ed Miliband's first action as Labour leader was to pay tribute to that. None of the candidates did their career any harm by fighting this long, tiring and hard campaign, we witnessed their intellect, passion for the party and energy as they attended hustings across the country and numerous media appearances throughout the summer. All four contenders are expected to be offered jobs in the cabinet; although needless to say as I write on Sunday night every political commentator is musing over whether Miliband, D will take a position reporting to his younger brother.
So what will the shadow cabinet look like? It needs to be raring to go in order to tackle the fall out from the ConDem spending review on October 20th and Miliband will be desperate to harness the best talents of the party. Elections for the shadow cabinet take place this week and as well as the big guns other names in the hat include Maria Eagle, Stephen Twigg, Iain Wright and Mary Creagh.
Labour rules mean that Miliband must ensure there are at least 6 women in the shadow cabinet, and he has already stated his intention to work towards a 50/50 ratio of men to women. Having managed Ed's campaign and increased his media presence significantly in recent months, Sadiq Khan must be in line for a more senior post along with the defeated leadership contenders. My thoughts on how it should, and maybe could look? Well, okay then, for what it's worth..

Chancellor - Ed Balls. I know that there are concerns that his economic policy is too far away from Miliand's 'starting point' of Darling's four year deficit reduction plan but Balls has to be the natural for the job. He lived and breathed the Treasury for so many years under Gordon Brown and we all know he would have Osborne for breakfast, lunch and dinner on economic policy and understanding.

Foreign Sec- David Miliband. Clearly not Miliband the elders dream job but it would keep him at arms length from his brother, he knows the job and the people involved. He has a good reputation abroad and would keep his name on the international circuit.

Home Sec - Yvette Cooper. Making the Balls' and Miliband families Britain's most powerful political dynasties but she is a formidable force and her work in Work and Pensions would give her excellent grounding for such an important role as the cuts take hold. Her parliamentary style would overshadow the forgettable Teresa May and she would get straight to nub of the real costs to society of police cuts.

Health - Please, please Andy Burnham. He may want a promotion but he is so passionate, so articulate  and so right when it comes to health and the NHS that he absolutely must stay in this role. We need him to fight for the NHS.

Justice - Harriet Harman. Ever popular and passionate on so many subjects this would be a great job during the tough times ahead for the prison system and with crime likely to increase as unemployment goes up. Harriet will do brilliantly against the old stalwart Ken Clarke for some sensible and progressive debate.

Education - just not sure on this. Michael Gove, despite his terrible start in the role, is well liked and very articulate. Ed Balls terrier tactics certainly got the better of him but this role needs I think an experienced hand. Alan Johnson?

Defence - Douglas Alexander? Liam Byrne? A tricky job that requires experience, maturity and care. The last government's reputation amongst the armed forces lies in tatters - some serious repair work and a sensible brief.

Work & Pensions - this could be one for Sadiq Khan; likely to be an increasingly high profile role up against IDS. Sadiq's 'man of the people' style could suit this role, he understands what the cuts will mean to the man on the street.

So what do we have left? Equalities, Culture, International Aid,  Business, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Environment,  Local Government, Transport, Universities.....How about these names for the hat for these lower profile roles...Diane Abbot, Peter Hain, Caroline Flint, Huw irranca- Davies, Ben Bradshaw, Vernon Coaker, Hilary Benn, Fiona MacTaggert, Rosie Winterton, Pat McFadden and David Lammy

Wow, what a team we could be. My plea? Get together, work together, remember why you are there, why you are Labour and lets get on with it! As they say on twitter....#proudtobeLabour

Thursday, 2 September 2010

David vs...oh, it's David (or maybe Ed)

My ballot papers haven't arrived yet but i know who i am voting for when they do.  I will be voting for Ed Miliband, David Miliband, Andy Burnham, Ed Balls and Diane Abbott; in that order. My instinct has told me go with Miliband, E since he announced his intention to run, the literature and articles I have read, the hustings I have attended and 'VoteMatch' have all confirmed that he is the candidate for me, based on his policies and clear passion to fight for Labours core values. I support the Living Wage and believe that a Graduate Tax is the fairest alternative to tuition fees, I am also impressed by his commitment to boosting the Green Economy and using this to create British jobs. I am interested in his willingness to consider a new approach to foreign policy. I do not think Ed Miliband is the finished article but I do believe he can build a strong relationship with the electorate.

During the course of this leadership election I have also, at varying points, been hugely impressed with most of the other candidates. I thought Andy Burnham's defence of the NHS on Question Time in the early summer was heartfelt, intelligent, empathic and hugely impressive. He undoubtedly has the ability to communicate with people on the doorstep and is a vital tool for the Labour party going forward. His man of the people approach has its place and will be useful, especially when dealing with some of the more difficult, sensitive issues that Labour got wrong in the election.

Ed Balls speech at Bloomberg on August 27th was brilliant and without doubt Labours most important economic comment since the coalition came to power. His conviction that supporting growth is essential whilst acknowledging the budget deficit, is exactly what we have been waiting to hear. He spoke clearly and passionately about his subject without going number and statistic crazy as Brown may once have done. His arguments for a more balanced approach to the economy, with the focus on job creation are convincing.

However, David Miliband has demonstrated to me that he is the sole ready-for-action statesman amongst the contenders. Last Mondays Movement for Change event in Central London was a comfortable environment for him, speaking to a band of vocal supporters but his confidence, stature and eloquence immediately made me relish the idea of PMQ's in October with DM at the helm for Labour! He is clearly incredibly erudite, principled and a realist and from what I could see has the ability to inspire people. His previous post as Foreign Secretary will have given him access to the highest workings of state but one gets the impression that he is developing a deeper passion for the country and people around him. I hope that this interest will hold and that the need to make Britain a fairer society will truly drive him if he gets the big job.

I think that David Miliband will win the election. And, if I ask myself who is the candidate most likely to become Prime Minister, the immediate answer is David Miliband.
Whether, especially after this weeks shenanigans, we like it or not Tony Blair won Labour three elections by appealing to a broader spectrum of voters than any previous Labour leader has done. Of the contenders the only one who has anything like that appeal is David Miliband. We also know that over the course of the past 13 years Labour lost 5 million voters, many of whom stopped voting rather than moving to the 'dark' side of the Conservatives. In order to win 5 million more voters in the next five years Labour have to deliver credible alternatives to the government. Labour need to inspire the next generation of voters by creating an effective youth arm and building on its core values as a movement. Most of all Labour needs to be united and ensure that the only issue on the agenda is working as a cohesive, organised, passionate and credible opposition party.

Whoever is announced as the new leader on 25th September in Manchester needs to immediately capitalise on the experience and intelligence of those that will make up Labour's shadow cabinet. Provided ego, negative briefings and factionalism are all buried along with the memoirs of the New Labour era than we are looking at a formidable team of people to take on and hold to account the regressive, opportunistic and short-sighted coalition government. The election of 2010 proved Labour with a new intake of MP's who will have to cut their political teeth in opposition, if the Labour machine is effective their next term could see them on the right side of the Commons