James Forsyth

Labour’s shifting plates

Labour's shifting plates
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James Macintyre, who is well sourced with the Mandelson camp, has an interesting piece in this week’s New Statesman on the fight Mandelson thinks Labour should pick with the Tories. The Mandelson view is, apparently, that Labour should make cuts and emphasise that only certain things can be afforded and then challenge the Tories to say they would go further. More intriguing than this latest attempt at creating dividing lines is who reportedly supports such an approach:

“In this, Mandelson has allies in James Purnell and Ed Miliband, the Climate Change Secretary, and an enemy in Ed Balls, who argues for precisely such a divide. But the Schools Secretary has been badly damaged by the revelations about McBride, who is widely thought to have been running his unofficial leadership campaign. His influence, along with his leadership hopes, have been seriously diminished. Meanwhile the stock of Balls’s somewhat reluctant future leadership rival Ed Miliband, who also warned Brown about McBride after last autumn’s party conference, remains high. The younger Miliband has formed a strong alliance with Mandelson and, together with Purnell, may do most to steer Labour’s course this year.”

An Ed Miliband, James Purnell axis could be—in Labour leadership terms—very interesting. Ed Miliband has certainly done his utmost recently to present himself as the principled side of Brown’s political character. This comes with the implicit implication that Balls’ represents the Nixonian side. Balls has, arguably, been an even bigger loser from smeargate than Brown.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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