Posts Tagged ‘chancellor’

The three choices facing moderate Labour MPs at tomorrow’s Budget

15/03/2016, 09:55:09 PM

by Greig Baker

Some people accuse Conservatives of wanting power at any cost. Having worked for the party during some of its darker days in Opposition, I can assure you that is not the case. However, most Tory MPs do understand you have to be in power to wield it.

When the Chancellor sits down after delivering tomorrow’s Budget, ambitious Labour MPs will have three choices if they want to wrestle the keys to Number 10 away from Cameron’s successor. First, they could drink the kool aid and hope against hope that Jeremy Corbyn has stumbled upon a new way of winning elections. More realistically, they will have to choose between options two and three – quietly rebelling or carefully splitting.

The rebellion option will be embodied by Rachel Reeves, Dan Jarvis, et al, who will set out their own response to the Budget, coming from a dramatically different position to Labour’s frontbench. In contrast, the splitting option has already been demonstrated by David Lammy and Andrew Adonis, who have been willing to give Corbyn a few more days’ bad headlines in return for the promise of actually getting stuff done.

Given that Andrew Adonis’s recommendations from National Infrastructure Commission will get great big lumps of real hard cash thrown behind them tomorrow, the understated rebels are going to have to do something special to persuade colleagues that they can offer a viable alternative.

Either way, the reaction to tomorrow’s statement will give us a clear sense of which Labour MPs know that you don’t have to be a Tory to want to be in Government.

Greig Baker is Chief Executive of The GUIDE Consultancy

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Saint and sinner. Genius and villain. The many aspects of Gordon Brown

02/12/2014, 02:35:22 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Much has and will be written about Gordon Brown and about how he divides opinion both in British politics and, not least, in the party he once led. The many contradictions of his complex personality are already well chronicled.

A “moral compass” awkwardly spliced with low cunning. Big-hearted compassion for the poor matched with unrelenting brutality towards opponents. An expansive intellect married to occasional political stupidity.

At the root of it all, however, he was an outstanding social democrat, one of a select few Labour ministers – Bevan and Crosland spring to mind – who have left an indelible mark on British society.

He was undoubtedly Labour’s finest chancellor, using the role to rehydrate key public services, trebling spending on the NHS and doubling it for education. This alone will see his impact echo. But he also, for a time, brought about full employment and presided over the longest continuous period of growth since records began in the late 18th Century. Even his later failings to manage spending, against the vortex of the global banking crisis, will pale against his many achievements.

He was certainly our most political chancellor, using the office to pursue an unrelenting social democratic agenda in a way none of his Labour predecessors ever managed. Snowden, Dalton, Cripps, Gaitskell, Callaghan, Jenkins and Healy. Each of them found themselves at the mercy of events, implementing austerity measures in failing governments, dashing dreams and triggering internecine feuding in the process. Brown, for a good while at least, seemed to have mastered political alchemy.

“No more boom and bust” may seem a hollow boast now, but not when he used to make it. He made the whole of British politics believe it too. His intellectual dominance was, for most of his decade-long tenure as Chancellor, total. This explains why his Conservative opponents hated him so intensely, while admiring Blair.


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Sunday review: Back from the brink, by Alistair Darling

11/09/2011, 11:16:44 AM

by Anthony Painter

Like the Kennedy assassination, new camera angles on the decline and fall of Labour in office will be discovered for many years to come. What’s more, each new piece of undisclosed footage will end with the same dreadful, bloody result. So why do we do it to ourselves? We just can’t help it.

The latest offering from a senior Labour figure, the ‘never knowingly over-optimistic’, Alistair Darling’s Back from the

"A wise voice of reason"

brink has the same literary merit as the others in the genre: structure and style are put in the service of proving a point. But like the chick lit, executive biography or self-help genres (the political memoir may be a subset of this latter category- for the author) it is not full-throttle, florid prose that is the attraction. The author gets to have their say, settle a few scores and we get to vicariously sit in the room while momentous decisions are made.

Perhaps only Chris Mullin’s diaries would be worth recommending to a non-Westminster obsessed friend amongst the New Labour memoirs. For the rest, twenty minutes in the company of exclusive in the Sunday Times would be enough. None of this is particular to Darling; it should be clear by now that this is not my favourite genre. If it’s your taste then Back from the Brink is no better or worse than most of the others.

The Alistair Darling who emerges from these pages is decent, honourable, intelligent, courageous, and resolute. He’s rather like Alistair Darling in fact: very likeable and engaging. When events have subsequently proved him right, he makes his point and then moves on. There is no great crescendo of self-justification. But there’s no real mea culpa either. We simply see things- most of which we knew already- from his perspective. Kennedy gets shot and dies. (more…)

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