Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Oh, and on that article...

While we're talking about that Miliband article, there were one or two points that really stuck in my gullet:
The economic challenge is new. People want protection from a downturn made in Wall Street. The country needs to prepare for an upturn when new service industries — insurance, education, care, creative industries — are growing at home but also among the new Chinese and Indian middle classes.
This is tripe on two levels. The first is that the downturn is not 'made in Wall Street' but largely a result of British and European economic policy. Inflation is made much more damaging by our weak exchange rate; food prices have been inflated largely as a result of the disastrous dash to bio-fuels. And the new service industries he cites as about to grow in China and India - education and care especially - have little relevance to the domestic educational and care sectors. Unless he really believes that there is going to be a mass exodus of history teachers to the Chinese education sector.
There is not much to suggest that Miliband's the man to turn Labour around. But then, he is at present the stand-out favourite for next long-term leader (ignoring any caretaker scenarios). If Labour do go down to heavy defeat at the next election, will the party really decide that a policy wonk is their best bet to claw their way back into politics? Because there is recent precedent of a party that did that - when the Tories chose William Hague. Had they chosen Ken Clarke instead, it is arguable that the Tories would not have descended quite so deeply into the 'weirdness' category. Labour may well believe that a chatty, friendly, safe sort of leader would be better than an intense policy wonk - maybe Alan Johnson. So perhaps, if Miliband wants the leadership, he should go now while he has a good chance, rather than wait for a potentially better chance that may never arrive. There's a Tory precedent for that scenario too - Michael Portillo.

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