In the past week, lefty pointy-heads have been all a-twitter about a piece on the Economist’s blog, mapping out how Ed Miliband might want to clip the Treasury’s wings and expand BIS, so that BIS becomes an engine for “economic reform”.
This new “department for Milibandism” would take on responsibility for jobcentres from DWP, training from Education, cities and regional growth from CLG and financial services from the Treasury. The poor old Treasury would be left as a much diminished office of the budget.
Cue supportive interventions from noted Ed-ites and much sage discussion about the policy and institutional impact. But as the wonkathon subsides, thoughts turn to the politics of such a change and the eternal question, cui bono?
The stony silence from the shadow chancellor’s camp speaks volumes. Ed Balls would effectively be demoted to the role of chief secretary to the Treasury. Suffice to say, he’s unlikely to be a fan. No, the lucky beneficiary from this radical Whitehall surgery would appear be Chuka, the current shadow at BIS.
So who lobbed this political incendiary into the debate? Step forward the uncredited author of the piece, Jeremy Cliffe.
Would that be the same Jeremy Cliffe who is good mates with one, er, Chuka Umunna? The same Jeremy whose Linked-In CV lists a past role as “Campaign Intern, Streatham Labour, December 2009-January 2010.” The same Jeremy whose CV goes on to list one of his jobs as “Researcher, Office of Chuka Umunna, June 2010-August 2010”?
Hmm. Stop it. You’re too suspicious, Uncut is sure this is all just a big coincidence.
In other coincidental news, la Umunna penned a piece for last week’s Observer on democratic renewal; nothing to do with industrial strategy and completely out of the blue, but nevertheless a worthy subject for a political intervention. It brought to mind a comment from a grizzled whip a few years ago, speaking about loyalty from the then cabinet, “When the children start talking off-topic, discipline is breaking down and trouble’s not far behind.”
In fairness to Chuka, at least he was scrupulously on message in his Observer piece. Rumours from the PLP abound that the really big fight of the coming term is about to kick-off: Balls versus Burnham with loyalty to the collective shadow cabinet line likely to be the first casualty.