Posts Tagged ‘Alan Milburn’

Labour’s rhetorical ratchet is destroying the party’s electoral hopes

29/01/2015, 09:18:26 AM

by Atul Hatwal

When Ed Miliband became leader of the Labour party, a rhetorical ratchet was installed in the machinery of Labour politics. Since then, the only direction of travel permissible for Labour’s public statements has been to the left. The only criticism of the leadership allowed has been from the left.

Now, as the party’s poll lead dissolves, the consequences of this ratchet for Labour’s electoral chances are becoming increasingly clear. Two incidents from the past week – one on policy and one on process – exemplify the depth of the party’s problems.

First, on policy, there was Andy Burnham’s performance on Newsnight.

Labour has a perfectly defensible and reasonable policy on the use of private healthcare in the NHS: it can only be used to supplement rather than replace public provision. In practice, it means that the private sector would only be used to clear backlogs. It’s how the last Labour government operated.

But, faced with the need to demonstrate how Labour policy has progressed since 2010, the ratchet has forced Andy Burnham to the left, beyond the point of incoherence.

Because of the ratchet, a centrist dividing line on health based on Labour competence versus Tory incompetence is impossible. Instead, Labour has opted for an ideological frame of public good versus private bad with Labour promising to roll back the private.


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Labour’s populism is all about redistributing wealth. Creating it matters too

09/05/2014, 10:47:18 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Labour forms a majority government, Alan Milburn wrote in the FT on 13 April, when focused as much on creating wealth as distributing it. Pat McFadden used a very similar line when speaking to Newsnight the same week. McFadden used to work with Peter Mandelson as a minister at BIS. Now Chuka Umunna is shadow secretary of state to this department and consciously echoed Mandelson when he recently said: “I don’t have a problem with people making a lot of money, so long as they pay their taxes.”

Similarly, I’ve argued that Labour should focus on growth as well as the cost of living; in other words, making the economic pie bigger, in addition to sharing it more equitably; being a party of increased production, not simply fairer distribution. Whether when Harold Wilson proclaimed ‘the white heat of technology’ or when Tony Blair unrelentingly championed aspiration, Labour has advanced as a party of growth and production. This is not to downplay the redistributive gains that Labour made during these periods. We had our first statutory minimum wage under Blair and got rid of the eleven-plus under Wilson.

These redistributive gains were facilitated by Labour’s strength on production. In crude policy terms, when economic growth is robust, it’s easier to find resources to redistribute to the less well-off. The politics are simpler too. Voters are less likely to withdraw their support from a redistributive party for self-interested reasons if they are reassured that this party is also capable of delivering the growth that will help their back pockets.


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Tuesday News Review

17/08/2010, 07:56:53 AM

Goodbye Alan, it’s been emotional

I, for one, am fed up with the media myth which suggests that the Blairites were the cool dudes in the dull Labour gang, that they were popular and/or adored, and that they singlehandedly won general elections for the party. Did anyone ever say to themselves, “I’m voting Labour because of Alan Milburn”? Did people take to the street in protests when Blunkett was sacked from the cabinet? Did the likes of Patricia Hewitt, Geoff Hoon and Stephen Byers help or hinder the Labour re-election effort earlier this year, when they were outed by Channel 4’s Dispatches grubbing for cash? And did anyone really doubt that the ultra-Blairites like Milburn and Hutton were closer to the Tories, in their pro-market, pro-privatization, pro-rich ideology, than to the Labour Party, new or old? – The New Statesman

On Wednesday, he will deliver a speech on social mobility and confirm the disclosure in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph that Alan Milburn has been appointed an independent adviser to the Government. John Prescott‘s furious denunciation of Milburn as a “collaborator” tells you all you need to know about the political symbolism of this coup: the former Health Secretary and one-time Labour leadership contender joins his fellow Blairite, John Hutton, and Labour’s star thinker on welfare, Frank Field, in the coalition’s Big Tent. David Blunkett is reported to be next on the list of invitees. Just as Blair wooed senior Lib-Dems and One Nation Tories to New Labour — what Alastair Campbell called “Operation Hoover” — so Cameron and Clegg are recruiting disenfranchised Blairites. – The Evening Standard


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Milburn vs. Milburn: Round III

16/08/2010, 01:15:50 PM

In round three, Mark Watson fires a volley for the greater good and Paul Smith hits straight back with a large helping of  ego and delusion.

The best thing for the country is what’s required

The only thing you can be sure of in Westminster is that things are never going to be quite the same again. The Lib Dems are in power but sharing with Conservatives. Prescott is in the House of Lords, but following Frank Field and John Hutton’s acceptance of advisory positions to the current incumbents comes the completion of the triumvirate of ex-Labour ministers working in the current administration, with the addition of former cabinet minister Alan Milburn as social mobility tsar. 

Alan Milburn knows his social mobility bag; he has first hand experience. Gordon Brown thought so much of this arch-Blairites position that he appointed him to advise his government on the subject, although the subsequent binning of his proposals in file 13 confirmed to many the view that this appointment was simply a concession to the Blair wing of the party. 

Whilst criticising this appointment as a sell-out, amongst other things, many Labour figures are approaching the subject from a sectarian position and missing the point. It seems as though the underlying narrative of the detractors is that the well-being of the country comes second to the lines in the party sand.  Labour only want social mobility sorting if they are the ones to sort it out – so why didn’t we?  There is no doubt that Milburn is one of the premier social mobility minds, so why shouldn’t the country benefit from what he has to say, regardless of his allegiance.


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Milburn vs. Milburn: Round I

16/08/2010, 11:00:53 AM

In the first round of our Milburn vs. Milburn feature, Sam Hargreaves agrues that we should rejoice at having one of our boys on the inside, while Paul Cotterill hits back with his view that it’s just a Tory trick:

Who would you rather have in charge?

Alan Milburn’s appointment as social mobility tsar has been a surprise for those within the Labour party; however it should not be viewed as an unwelcome one.

Social mobility is an issue at the heart of the Labour movement; it has long been the goal of our party to reduce the gap between the richest and poorest members of our society. This goal is not one that is shared by the members of the current cabinet, as shown by the scrapping of the future jobs fund.

A study conducted by Milburn before he left parliament criticised industries that were inaccessible to those from a poorer background. He has shown a clear understanding of the problems we currently face in our society, by forcing coalition members to see these problems, a shift in policy may be achieved.


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Sunday News Review

15/08/2010, 09:09:58 AM

Bring in the ringers

Alan Milburn has been appointed to give political cover to Clegg

As expected there’s been a furious response from ex-Labour deputy, John Prescott to the overnight news that former arch-Blairite cabinet minister, Alan Milburn is possibly going to return to government to act as “Social Mobility Czar” – whatever that means. Prezza Twittered: “So after Field & Hutton, Milburn becomes the 3rd collaborator. They collaborated to get Brown OUT. Now collaborating to keep Cameron IN” For the three Labour figures named were all opponents of the Gordon Brown premiership which makes it easier for Prescott to condemn them in this manner – though I do wonder whether the term “collaborator” is taking tribal politics a bit too far. – Political Betting

Labour’s Alan Milburn is poised for a shock return to Government as David Cameron’s “social mobility” czar. And it was reported last night that former Cabinet minister David Blunkett could also boost the coalition with advice on poverty, benefit cheats and the pensions crisis. His former Cabinet colleague Mr Milburn will advise the PM on helping people from humble backgrounds into lucrative careers. – The Mirror

The appointment of the former Health Secretary will anger Tory traditionalists who fear there are already too many left leaning policies being drawn up by the coalition. The announcement will be made by Nick Clegg, perhaps as early as Wednesday. A Liberal Democrat insider said the appointment had been agreed between Mr Clegg and Mr Cameron as a way of promoting the former’s “fairness” agenda. Many will see it as a way of shoring up the Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader who is facing internal trouble in his own party over the severe spending cuts he has backed. – The Telegraph


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