Thursday, January 20, 2011
Johnson's Resignation Probably Serendipitous
Nobody, at the time of writing, knows why Alan Johnson has resigned as Shadow Chancellor. His opponents will say it's because he wasn't really making much of an impact and there is something in that jibe. Johnson is immensely likable and, possibly through his remarkable provenance, able to engage voters across the social gamut. However, when Gordon was that awful clunking millstone around the party's neck- I calculate from June 2007 to May 2010- Alan showed little sign he was inclined to take on the top job. A nice guy not cut out for conflict at the very top? I guess and suspect so.
As for Balls, there is no doubt he is itching to express an aggression which seems to be a natural characteristic. Tony Blair had occasion to feel the edge of his tongue, and allegedly Ed Balls did not always get on well, in the court of Gordon, with the man who is now his party leader. During the leadership campaign Balls was far and away the candidate who, whilst campaigning, managed to land blows on the new coalition government. I think he'll make a big difference.
There is no doubting the success of the coalition in winning the battle of who is to blame for the recession. Cameron, Clegg and Osborne have hammered away at the line that Labour's gross overspending caused the deficit whereas the truth is that the US banking caused the recession and that in turn caused revenue to dry up for the Treasury resulting in the need for massive borrowing both to bail out the banks and maintain public services. Labour recognised the need to retrench- as Darling repeated many times, though his remedy was to halve the deficit by 2015 not eliminate it. His argument- and that of some Lib Dems at the time- was that savage cuts would throw people out of work and risk frecession or at best glacial economic growth. Darling never won the argument and after the election the coalition succeeded in imposing its view of history. This has subsequently provided the rationale for everything that the government has done in terms of its programme of cuts to 'sort out the mess Labour left'.
One of the reasons Labour lost this vital trick, is that it was distracted by its leadership contest. Ed Miliband, arriving late in the day, hoped that appointing Johnson would help win back lost ground and erode the strength of the government's economic narrative. Johnson just was not up to it, I fear and Labour, whilst not languishing in the polls, has made no real inroads into the idea that the Con-Lib-Dem coalition has the best ideas on economic policy. Miliband probably wanted to avoid placing a rival in such a powerful position, as well as avoid the embarrassment of favouring Ed Balls's wife, Yvette Copper, for the top economic post.
Now the proper progression of events has occurred and I think it'll be for the best, t5hough the government will insist it's 'Brown's team back in charge of Labour's economic policy'. Already Balls is insisting it 'does not have to be like this' on all the airwaves available. As the cuts drive ever deeper, it could well be that this more loudly asserted message will replace the present narrative. As to the real reason why Johnson resigned? Unless he decided to fall on his sword, not a clue.
You should get a job on a tabloid! Your story is great apart from factr it's all wrong. It's Mrs Johnson who has been having the affair with one of hubby's policemen! I suspect Alan's alck of bite in his job is another unacknowledged reasons though.
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