Donald Brind – from a Labour perspective
I woke up this morning to hear a devastating critique of the Chancellor George Osborneâ€™s record on the Today programme. Under him â€œwe havenâ€™t rebalanced the economy towards manufacturing, exports and the regions .. fixing the roof when the sun shines never happened.â€
A perfect script for the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell you might think but this was, in fact, John Longworth, head of the British Chambers of Commerce speaking. He had just published a report showing that manufacturing is close to stagnation and growth will be slower than expected.
The Today programme also interviewed the Chancellor about his heavily trailed speech warning of the perils facing the countryâ€™s economy
But why no invitation to McDonnell? His absence from the Today studio was, if you like, the â€œopportunity costâ€ of Jeremy Corbynâ€™s protracted reshuffle. McDonnell had been sent off to the Today the previous morning to defend the sacking of shadow Europe Minister Pat McFadden and shadow culture secretary Michael Dugher. Heâ€™d had his quota of airtime on the BBCâ€™s flagship news programme.
He was in demand later by the BBC and others but his Today experience illustrated a broader point about the reshuffle â€“ even if it had been well planned and smoothly executed — what it offered voters was Labour talking about itself and not about the things that voters themselves care about.
That cost was also evident at Prime Ministers Questions where the Labour leaderâ€™s team had prepared for him a searching list of questions about flood preventionÂ â€“ a classic example of the false economies that are a feature of Osborneâ€™s record as Chancellor. But David Cameron was equally well prepared, glossing over cuts in funding for flood prevention schemes, and scorning the reshuffle in every answer.
He delivered brilliantlyÂ an elaborate riff on based on the fact that this year sees the 400th anniversary of the Bardâ€™s death. â€œThere was a moment when it looked like this reshuffle could go into its twelfth night. It was a revenge reshuffle, so it was going to be as you like it. I think, though, we can conclude that it has turned into something of a comedy of errorsâ€”perhaps much ado about nothing. There will be those who worry that loveâ€™s Labourâ€™s lost.â€
Perhaps those with most reason to be aggrieved about the effects of the reshuffle were Labourâ€™s London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan and the thousands of party supporters who turned up stations across the capital. They were handing out leaflets trumpeting Khanâ€™s key pledge to freeze fares for four years. The reshuffle ensured the campaigning got less media attention than it might have done.
Thomson pointed to polls putting Khan ahead. â€œDespite the assumption that all women swoon over Goldsmith, it is Khan who is way ahead with female voters as well as with the young.â€
Labour is strong in London, she says, with 45 of the capitalâ€™s 73 MPs and more than 80,000 people voted in Labourâ€™s selection but fewer than 9,000 in the Tory equivalentÂ adding â€œKhan has the better machine.â€
Thomson suggests that the â€œTory high commandâ€ wouldnâ€™t be too bothered about defeat for Goldsmith — â€œ though they would never admit itâ€ The reason? â€“ â€œthey wouldnâ€™t mind boosting Jeremy Corbyn. If he can win last yearâ€™s Oldham by-election and this yearâ€™s mayoral election, then he might yet cling on until the general election which is exactly what Mr. Cameronâ€™s potential successors â€” George Osborne, Theresa May and Boris Johnson â€” want.â€
For Labour victory for Khan is important not just because he will be a good Mayor but because his campaign is outward looking — dealing with issues that voters care about. He is providing a model of inclusive leadership that the party desperately needs.