Martin Bright

The Adrian Mole Generation Should Step up to the Plate

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It's perhaps a step too far to mix a reference from a popular work of 1980s satirical fiction with a phrase borrowed from baseball in the headline of this piece, but somehow it seemed to capture the situation.

With increased speculation about Harriet Harman's leadership ambitions the time has come for the younger generation of Labour politicians (most of whom are a simillar age to Sue Townsend's hero) to start sticking their heads aboove the parapet.

A name that seems to be emerging as a possible runner is Treasury minister Yvette Cooper.

I have often wondered whether we would ever see a husband and wife team in No. 10 and No. 11 Downing Street . It would certainly make the living arrangements easier. I'm sure Ed Balls has sometimes wondered what it would be like running the country with his wifeworking away next door as Chancellor.

But I've always thought a much better arrangement would be to have Yvette at the helm with Ed looking after the money. It's certainly the case that Mrs Balls has grown into a formidable television performer (if not one the public can instantly warm to) while her husband still struggles to project his personal charm on TV and radio.

So it was interesting to read  that at least one minister is suggesting that Yvette Cooper run for the post-Gordon leadership as a stop Harman candidate. I don't have anything against Harman as such, although she does have an ability to speak fluent New Labour gibberish sometimes. But the time has come for the 40-somethings to push the architects of "The Project" aside and reinvent the party for the 21st century.

It is something of an indictment of Labour's Adrian Mole generation that the most dynamic figures in the party at the present time are Harman herself, John Prescott, Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson. Average age: 59.