The 60-year old cabinet veteran Alan Johnson has insisted that he is sticking around for the long-term, despite signals that he is not exactly bonding with Ed Miliband. Their disagreement over the graduate tax and the 50p income tax band are the most visible signs of tension. They are also spending less time together than you might expect. As the FT reported a few weeks ago:
Mr Johnson and Mr Miliband have been allocated the same offices in Westminster’s Norman Shaw buildings once occupied by Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne before the election. But the shadow chancellor spends most of his time in his old office in a separate building. Read more
The Miliband team aren’t desperately happy that Ed’s decision not to attend tomorrow’s TUC rally has been construed in some quarters (see my last blog) as a U-turn. They are claiming that the event isn’t even a rally anyway.
Ed proudly supports the rights of people to voice concerns and lobby Parliament, they tell me. “But there is no rally, people won’t be marching, it’s not placards and braziers.”
They are half right (yes it’s only an event at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster) and half wrong (it is still a self-styled ‘rally’). Read more
I was in the room at Manchester’s TUC conference when Ed Miliband was asked if he would attend the anti-cuts TUC rally tomorrow in London. “I’ll attend the rally, definitely,” he replied. As I wrote at the time it was a significant moment, not least because David Miliband sounded much more ambivalent. Their different replies may have made a difference in terms of crucial votes from union members.
Now Polly Curtis at the Guardian is reporting that Mili-E will not be there tomorrow; instead he will have some private chats with union officials. It’s a striking U-turn. Read more
Pat McFadden has become the latest senior Labour figure to question the party’s own proposals for a graduate tax, urging his colleagues instead to back the coalition’s plan for further education funding laid out by Lord Browne this week – writes Elizabeth Rigby.
In a shot across the bows of Ed Miliband, his new leader, the Blairite former business minister of state said yesterday that Labour should stop opposing the plans and concentrate on making the Browne proposals more palatable to less affluent pockets of society. Lord Browne’s report on higher education, which is likely to be backed by the coalition, has advocated charging more for courses funded through student loans rather than a pure graduate tax. Read more