I do feel for David Cameron. A month ago he was the PM who was quietly confident that he would win the referendum and would be at this point reshuffling his cabinet and getting on with his ‘economic plan’.
However, we now have a new Prime Minister and a new cabinet. Gordon Brown declared his first cabinet as a ‘government of all the talents’. With Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary and Nigel Hunt left in place to fire harpoons at the NHS – I think it’s safe to call this a government with some of the talents.
I’m still not sure if it is an act of pure genius putting Boris in charge of Britain’s diplomacy with the world or an act of pure insanity. But whatever happens Boris won’t be boring. I’m not even sure if he will be in the job all that long. He has to work alongside eurosceptic MP David Davis whose ego dwarfs the EU, but who has been given Secretary of State for Exiting the EU – working alongside brexiteer and other ego-phile Liam Fox, the new Secretary of State for International Trade. These three will find it hard agreeing to seating arrangements around a table – never mind the intricate policy and political details of how we leave the EU. Fun times ahead.
I understand why Theresa want’s to keep Jeremy Hunt in place. His nose and hands are already bloodied with his back sore and scarred with the numerous whippings and fist fights he’s had with the NHS. The Government seem to be determined to push through a new contract on Junior Doctors. Why get a new minister’s hands bloodied and bruised – better to let Jeremy slug away in Health and then get rid of him when all the damage is done – bringing in a clean pair of hands to try and smooth things over later.
If you are a fan of political history – you may be interested in this video that charts the final months of John Major’s government through the eyes of the shadow Chancellor Gordon Brown and his team, including Charlie Whelan, Ed Balls and Ed Miliband, following them through Labour’s election campaign and into government. This programme was broadcast on 30th September 1997.
Unity is often seen as a good thing. And depending on what’s being united – that can be the case. However, the current Labour unity against Jeremy Corbyn is going as well as can be expected.
There is so much bad blood flowing around the Labour party at the moment (from its heart to its toe nails) I’m surprised it hasn’t been wheeled into an NHS hospital for a transfusion! Then again, with the track record of some NHS hospitals (Romford Queen’s Hospital) – maybe staying out is the medicine which is keeping it alive.
The belief is that Jeremy Corbyn is a problem for Labour and it’s election chances of 2020. I don’t actually think that Jeremy is the problem at.
The problem in so far as I can see isn’t with Jeremy – but with the uninspiring nature of the other candidates. Why aren’t they doing better? If Labour doesn’t really like them – who will?
If NONE of them seem able to even come close to Jeremy – in terms of engagement, charisma, warmth, charm & voice- what chance does Labour have in 2020 when fighting a real opponent? This particular Labour leader election – must be, must be – one of the worst managed, handled and executed election ever. It’s a disaster in terms of PR, the available candidates and the future election prospects of the party.
If you believe the polls (and after May 2015 why would we?) Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper haven’t captured party members imagination in the same way that Corbyn has. But maybe this reflects the wider trend away from party suits with plukes (spots for those unfamiliar). Just evaluate the Corbyn effect – with the Nigel Farage effect. Great at grabbing headlines. Great at getting party members enthused and great at getting them active in their communities. The problem with Farage is, of course, no one outside his gabble of groupies – want to see him actually running the country!
So, I understand why the Labour party fear a Corbyn win. It would probably be his last success. Capturing the hearts of your party is one thing. Capturing the hearts of a nation is another. As David Cameron has shown us twice – you don’t need to be a brilliant politician or outstanding Prime Minister. But, as RuPaul would say on her drag race “Good luck….and DON’T fuck it up”. Unfortunately since 2007 – the Labour Party hasn’t heeded Lady Ru’s words of rudom.
But surely the bigger problem here is the total lack of enthusiasm for any of the other candidates. A number of Labour’s ‘big beasts’ or just ‘beastly beasts’ have come out for Liz Kendall including David Miliband, Tristram Hunt, Chuka Ummuna, & Margaret Hodge. Liz Kendall? A future leader? A future Prime Minister on the global stage? Really? She ain’t no Angela Merkel or Barbara Castle. One wonders if some of those names attached to her are giving their backing knowing that the public are as likely to vote for Liz as they are for compulsory syphilis injections (and yes, some will) – thereby giving them time to grow within themselves and prepare for their own Labour leadership bid in 2020?
And then…into the debate tumbles Tony Blair, Alistair Campbell and Gordon Brown – all with one message. A message which appears to go against the ‘holy grail’ in which new Labour was built. Negative campaigning on one subject – in which you force feed a message that no one ordered nor has the appetite to taste – let alone devour.
The lack of a future Prime Minister between here & 2025 is a problem for Labour and the problem is that no one seems to know how to handle it. From Blair to Brown; Burnham to Cooper – the undignified way this contest is being played out should give much comfort to Chancellor George Osborne – whose chances of being PM are now looking stronger than ever – especially as he’s had plenty of time to practice and improve his communication skills. By 2020 he will be a force to be reckoned with & could be “our” Tony Blair to “their” David Cameron. We’ve almost forgotten how insignificant and floundering Cameron used to look at the dispatch box when up against Blair. Cameron never did and never could win when facing formidable competition.
Whoever wins the leadership of the Labour party – will face the hardest tests of their political career. They are up against a Tory party machine that survived a major recession and a rather under performing Prime Minister – who then won an election.
The next Labour leader has to not only get the policy right. They must, as Ed Milliband found to his cost, look and sound like someone who could lead the country. For me, the jury is still out on whether this is possible between now and 2025. And I think that’s a real shame.