Daily Archives: October 7, 2010

Jim Pickard

Ben Bradshaw’s failure to make the shadow cabinet is not such a surprise, despite his manifest talents; he didn’t have enough support on the left of the party. More of a shocker is Peter Hain, former Welsh secretary, not reaching the final 19 (by a whisker) despite having been deputy chair of Ed Miliband’s election campaign.

Others who might have made it but did not include Chris Bryant, Diane Abbott (who tends to rub other MPs up the wrong way) and Emily Thornberry, who may still make it to the front bench before long. 

Jim Pickard

When I tipped John Healey as a possible shadow chancellor this morning it might have seemed outlandish to some, given his relatively low profile compared to the likes of Alan Johnson and Andy Burnham. But Healey has come in second in the Labour PLP vote for the shadow cabinet, just behind Yvette Cooper, proving that among his own MPs he is very highly regarded. Meanwhile Liam Byrne just scrapes through, 19th out of 19.

Here is the list in full, provided by a friendly MP:

1] Yvette Cooper (232 votes)

2] John Healey (192 votes)

3] Ed Balls (179 votes) 

Jim Pickard

Those seeking clues into the relationship between the two Eds (Miliband and Balls) should remember the first hustings of the summer, hosted by the New Statesman. Those watching were struck by the moment that Ed Balls had been talking at great length before Miliband chipped in: “It’s just like being back in the Treasury“.

Ed Balls is arguably the toughest and most qualified Labour MP to shadow George Osborne. But he has chosen to take an unyielding approach to the deficit which is the polar opposite of Osborne – and seems to preclude a compromise somewhere in between (of the kind proposed by Alistair Darling).  

When both Eds worked for Gordon Brown over a decade ago it was Balls who was seen as the more dominant figure. When Ed Miliband decides who to put into the shadow chancellor job he will be aware that if he chooses Balls he could be effectively ceding control over economic policy to his old rival. Of course he would nominally be in charge. But it is hard to imagine the strong-willed Balls shifting his strongly-held economic views to suit anyone else, even the new Labour leader. 

George Osborne’s cut to child benefit has triggered a bit of a debate over welfare handouts and procreation.

This is usually a bit of a no-go-area for politicians. But Jeremy Hunt has been brave enough to suggest that long-term benefit claimants should “take responsibility” for the number of children they have. Fraser Nelson, meanwhile, has dug up some numbers on the 2,500 incapacity benefit claimants with 6 or more kids.

This all reminded me of one of my favourite Gordon Brown stories. There were about 45,000 extra children born as a result of Brown’s largesse with benefits, according to economic research. It is a whole generation of “Brown babies” identified by the Institute of Fiscal Studies.

People appear to have taken his fiscal stimulus literally. Big increases in tax credits and income support payments pushed the birth rate to its highest level since 1974. The “price” of an extra child fell for many low income families along with the financial penalty of staying at home as a mother. Working class had more confidence to have children — or at least have them earlier. 

Jim Pickard

I am told by a reliable source that ministers have struck a deal with five out of the six civil service unions over the civil service compensation scheme. (The PCS* are apparently still holding out but its national executive is meeting this afternoon to discuss the offer). An announcement is expected as early as today.The deal could pave the way for the coalition to cut redundancy terms for civil servants and lay off up to 100,000 jobs out of the 500,000 covered by the scheme.

Francis Maude, cabinet office minister, is currently legislating for the new arrangements via a parliamentary bill which has its third reading next week. He has wanted to reduce the cost of making civil servants redundant by about two-thirds, claiming the current scheme is “way out of kilter” with the private sector.