Milburn vs. Milburn: Round II

In the second round Andrew Parrington says we should remember the government of talents, but Jonathan Todd counters that we shouldn’t be doing anything to help the Tories.

Remember the government of talents

It’s easy in our system to retreat to tribalism. When your party is on the losing end of an election, you really have lost everything. Compared to America – where the Democrats have a near-super majority (for the moment at least) and the Republicans are still forcing Obama to water down his agenda, our system is unbelievably brutal.

The United States’ political environment isn’t the friendliest at the moment, yet apart from in the fringe tea-party movement; neither Republicans nor Democrats have shown any level of hostility to one of their own members being in government while the party is out of power. In fact, it is the opposite – for a new President to appoint an entire cabinet without at least one member of the opposite party is regarded as a slap in the face. This is a much healthier way of regarding government service. It really doesn’t do Labour any credit to whinge because one of our own gets to advise on an issue they care about.

This isn’t the first time it’s happened either; when Brown assembled his ‘government of all the talents’, Patrick Mercer and then-backbencher John Bercow advised the government on issues which they, themselves , were experienced in. Whether or not Cameron is creating these roles to make trouble for Labour ought to be irrelevant – to the public, and to me, Milburn is putting partisan labels aside to try to influence government policies. And given his recommendations to the government following his commission on social mobility last year, I for one hope he is successful.

There are many actions which we can find fault with the coalition for, but inviting members of the Labour party to advise them is not one of them. To throw around accusations of ‘traitor’ and ‘collaborator’ reeks of shrill partisanship akin to Hague’s Tories in 2001, not a party ready to return to government.

Andrew Parrington is a Labour party member and a history and politics graduate.

We shouldn’t be doing anything to help them

Iain Dale doesn’t get these Labour appointments to the coalition. The implication of them, he writes, “is that there are no Conservatives with the capability or talent to carry out these roles.” But Cameron, having spent a lifetime battling Labour and seeking to deny us power, isn’t now going to cede genuine power to us or acknowledge that we might have had a point after all.   

Cameron has devoted his life to preventing Labour having power because he sees himself as part of a governing class that knows better than the oiks that Labour represents. This governing class has a duty to stop the oiks getting power and wrecking everything for everyone. Noblesse oblige, old boy. There is nothing in the water at Number 10 which is going to cause him to say “I’ve been wrong all my life. What’s Alan Milburn’s number?”

But Dale isn’t the only deluded one. Milburn is too. And reporting on social mobility to this most patrician of PMs is the cruellest delusion. He seems, like Dale, to think that Cameron admires his intellect and wants to give him real power to act upon his ideas. Instead, he’s been set up.

The Liberal Democrats have made themselves a human shield for Cameron’s Thatcherite Blitzkrieg. Milburn is now providing Cameron with additional cover. He will politely accept Milburn’s recommendations and do whatever he was planning to do anyways. He will have surrendered zero power but varnished his subsequent actions with a sense that he is above tribalism.

While Milburn has enabled this sense, the reality is that Cameron is leading a profoundly ideological crusade to shrink the state. As this puts at risk everything the Labour Party has achieved, no Labour person should be doing anything to assist him.    

Jonathan Todd was a Parliamentary candidate at the 2010 election and writes a blog.

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One Response to “Milburn vs. Milburn: Round II”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jonathan Todd, Labour Uncut. Labour Uncut said: Milburn vs. Milburn, round 2: Andrew Parrington takes on @Jonathan_Todd […]

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