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Labour’s new Leader

September 25, 2010

So by the narrowest of margins the younger Miliband has won.  We can now see how the PM debates will look in 2015.

The 1.3% majority and the fact he was second choice among Labour MPs and members will be a short lived embarrassment for Ed.  The bitterness of the Healey – Benn contest in 1981, when I first got seriously involved in politics, is not a factor now.

I can’t say I really know Ed M.  He’s from the 2005 intake like me.  I served on the Charities Bill Committee with him in 2006.  He’d just been made a junior minister and unlike many of his colleagues was polite and considerate towards opposition MPs.   We’ve exchanged pleasantries many times since. I hope he will be able to resist a shift to tribalism and aggression and provide constructive opposition to the coalition government.  We are in a new era of politics and there is still plenty of scope for Liberal Democrats and Labour to work together in the future.   His attitude to the AV referendum on a fairer voting system will be our first indication of his approach.

There is one very disappointing aspect about the new line up of the three main party leaders.  They’re all in their early 4os, come from comfortable backgrounds and have virtually no experience of the world outside politics.  Each of them say good things about social mobility but collectively they’re a demonstration of how far Britain has to go.  My visit to the States over the last fortnight made me think that despite the polluting effect of big money on US politics, it’s still just possible for someone to rise from the “log cabin” to the White House or Governor’s Mansion.  Since the departure of Major we’ve gone backwards on this side of the pond…

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Art of the Possible permalink
    September 27, 2010 7:41 am

    I agree with you about the new triumvirate. They are virtually identikit.

    Unlike yourself, however, I’m not disappointed because I’m not surprised. Never forget that “social mobility” is a mirage that, like shares, may go down as well as up; which is why it will never be significant. It’s hardly likely that the beneficiaries of the current social arrangements will allow their little darlings to be downwardly mobile, is it?

    That’s one reason why they have arranged the internship system, which efficiently disposes of those plebs whose parents do not have the money to support them in months or even years of unpaid work.

    • September 27, 2010 5:32 pm

      yes, the media and medical profession also have fair access issues.

      • Art of the Possible permalink
        September 27, 2010 8:44 pm

        Definitely. Along with almost any profession that pays well, is interesting and/or has influence, they are all look set to stay in the hands of a minority plutocratic class.

        It’s especially worrying when the media is dominated by families of a privileged elite, for obvious reasons.

      • thebristolblogger permalink
        September 28, 2010 7:20 am

        Surely politics does too?

      • Art of the Possible permalink
        September 29, 2010 9:31 pm

        “Surely politics does too?” Ooh yes, well spotted, there was some quick weaselling out attempted there on the politics front.

        Hard to get a decent dialogue going with some of our politicians, isn’t it?

        Say what you like about Kerry, and her team, at least she gives good dialogue on her blog.

      • September 30, 2010 10:13 am

        given that I said “yes” in response to your first posting I’m not sure how I have been “weaselling out” of anything. My original posting clearly said that I think it is a problem for politics that all three leaders have gone from comfortable backgrounds via Oxbridge straight into the political bubble. Once in the bubble they mix with journalists and build up other useful contacts. Then if they become an MP (probably parachuted into safe seat they only ever intend to visit – do the Mili brothers have much affinity for South Shields or Doncaster?!!) they have a head start on anyone who’s worked their way up outside the Westminster bubble, in what they call the “provinces”. As you’ve mentioned Kerry – at least she had a proper job for many years in the legal profession and was a councillor, albeit in Luton rather than Bristol. She’s rather more in touch with reality I would guess that her new leader. And yes, the same applies to the DPM and me.

      • Art of the Possible permalink
        October 1, 2010 7:33 am

        Pardon my levity, and thank-you for your response.

        Truth is though, it’s not only the Party leaders who are living in a bubble, is it? The strong impression is that MPs are an overclass who aren’t in touch with people in my position.

        As far as I can tell, the majority of MPs now move in the rarefied circles of the law, finance and public relations, totally remote from the rest of us.

        In more than 40 years, and in common with millions, yes millions, of others, I’ve never had a job that pays more than a few pennies above minimum wage, and I don’t expect ever to be able to earn more than that, given the state of the huge and growing divide between rich and poor in Britain. When self-employed, income can be even lower, well below minimum wage, a loophole that many cunning employers have discovered.

        Living with scarcity means that thrift and genuine sustainability is a way of life: walking or cycling everywhere, not having the expense of a car; using your washing water to flush the loo, saving water bills; living in one room in winter, slashing energy bills; using your local green space and sharing with neighbours, creating community and saving money; and so on …

        How many MPs can relate to this from direct long-term experience? I can tell you for free – none!

        So much for representativeness.

  2. John Lucas permalink
    September 30, 2010 6:04 pm

    Big worry

    I’m not sure specialising in politics is the most worrying thing about our party leaders. Does any of them understand science? This constituency lives on high-tech industry and, now you are in government, it is time to convince the Westminster village that scientific research is our only non-gambling hope of escaping the financial mess. Forget cuts, they must understand, spend more on science or we’re done for.

    • September 30, 2010 6:48 pm

      We’ll have to wait and see what the new government’s comprehensive spending review has to say. Unfortunately, the last spending statement by Alistair Darling proposed cuts in research, something I criticised as the Lib Dem shadow on higher education. I hope Vince Cable is able to agree a better settlement with the Treasury. I have been urging him to do this and have introduced him to vice chancellors outside the Russell Group of research intensive universities to press the point that excellence should be funded wherever it is found.

      • Art of the Possible permalink
        October 2, 2010 12:44 pm

        My response to this seems to have been caught in the machinery since early yesterday morning, so here it is without the links.

        John Lucas: “I’m not sure specialising in politics is the most worrying thing about our party leaders. Does any of them understand science?”

        But the two are directly related, John. Most MPs are out of touch with anything that is outside the bubble of their highly paid legal, financial and public relations aristocracy.

        Credit to the Lib Dems though, Julian Huppert pointed out the dangers of our parliamentarians being drawn from a small section of society that does not understand scientific thinking.

        Science writer Michael Brooks campaigned against “homeopathy” Tredinnick in the last election, and in his view:

        “The problem science has in Parliament is not about the few MPs who are actively anti-science. It’s about the many ostensibly neutral MPs who support such activism by voting the enemies of reason onto powerful committees or by signing their misguided petitions.”

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