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