Saturday, 9 October 2010

Milliband demonstrates canny thinking

Ed Milliband has announced his shadow cabinet; and has demonstrated some canny thinking.

Most obviously Alan Johnson into the Shadow Chancellor’s job. Dangerous move, but a good one. If Ed had put either of the front-runners (Ed Balls or Yvette Cooper) into the post he’d have ever been faced with the media predilection for Soap Drama. Besides which, he couldn’t really have put Ed Balls there; Balls’ comments recently about deficit reduction would have sent out entirely the wrong messages. But best of all, Ed M has wrong-footed the journalist pundits, without raising their hackles.

Alan Johnson is an incredibly safe pair of hands. In government he headed up both Health and Home Office and steered sure courses, taking them both out of the highly anti-labour news. His joke about an ‘economics primer’ may have been funny (it was neatly wry and brilliantly self-deprecating) but may have been a tactical error. However, he could easily turn it back on the Government if they attack him with it. And distant, posh-boy George will find an excellent opponent in older, genuine, honest talking Johnson. Good move.

Good to see Caroline Flint making a return; she’s an excellent communicator. And the bossy women from Blair-Brown have gone.

Sorry not to see Diane Abbott somewhere; she has grown enormously over the leadership campaign. She may be tricky to handle within collective responsibility; but she now has far more positives than negatives. I have hopes . . .

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