Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Gordon's 'All Talents' Strategy Could Go Pear-Shaped

Recruiting Sir Digby Jones(pictured)into his government of 'all talents' was something of a coup for a PM wishing to display his lack of tribalism as well as his bi-partisan sincerity. But I wonder if this success might not come back to bite Brown, even more than it has already? Writing the most fiercely leftwing article I can remember from him, George Monbiotopines:

He[Jones] was the most neanderthal boss the CBI has ever had. Digby Jones campaigned to freeze the minimum wage, neuter the EU's working time directive, block corporate killing laws, promote privatisation, cripple environmental rules, and curtail maternity leave. Of the unions he said: "They are an irrelevance. They are backward looking and not on today's agenda." As if to show who the boss is, Comrade Digby refuses to join the Labour party: he has been permitted to enter the government on his own terms.

Labour loyalists who have waited years for a ministerial portfolio will have harboured savage thoughts in their breasts at the embrace of such a prominent officer of the 'enemy' classes. Jones, moreover, is famous for being outspoken; I'm fairly sure that he is already well 'off message'. Soon the circling media will corner him and ask him his views on Labour policies, reminding him, no doubt, of the quotes used in the Monbiot article, for example. He is unlikely, to his credit, to seek resort in weasel words.

Gordon's idea was to exploit the admitted energy and business expertise of the dynamic right-winger; embarrassment and possible release of his 'catch' might well prove to be the end result in a few months time. Sir Digby Jones, is I suspect a convinced member of the 'business tribe' and, as Brown surely knows, our politics is still fundamentally tribal too. In LBJ's famous metaphor, including someone fiercely independent in government was thought the better option because this person would be 'inside pissing out' rather than 'outside pissing in'. The danger of Sir Digby is that he'll prove to be someone 'inside pissing all over everyone.'

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