I had high hopes for Gordon Brown. He was an excellent Chancellor, but he’s proving to be something of a naive Prime Minister. That’s the problem with people who have powerful visions driving them forward – they can’t always see the scenery changing as they stride into the unknown.
In my opinion, Gordon Brown’s cabinet reshuffle is one such mistake. His “government of all the talents” is beginning to look like a non-starter already. Apart from there being no non-Labour members in it yet, where’s the Labour heavyweight intellects of people such as John Read? Out in the cold.
Instead, we have the young Milliband brothers – young Ed will be looking after the cabinet office (the control centre of British politics) and young David will be in charge of Foreign Policy. Conspiracy theorists might say the Milliband family wish to take over the system, or at least know everything about what is going on.
I wouldn’t like to get into an argument with David Milliband as he does tend to steamroller over people without really listening to what they are saying or even answering their points. So much for Gordon Brown’s “listening government”. Apparently his brother Ed is much of the same. Are they both products of their Marxist activist father or their Jewish roots? Or fully signed up members to British New Labour with no particular Israeli sympathies? We shall see – but don’t expect any revelations from interviews with them. They are very intelligent and, to quote a well used Northern expression, rather too gobby for that. One thing you can say is they are both very young for the positions they now hold.
Now Gordon made much of his call to arms for people from different backgrounds to work together to build a better Britain. So, he has denuded much of the talent he had with him at the Treasury (weakening that institution and giving back control to the Civil Service once more) and been so far unsuccessful in bringing in anyone from any other party to help. Not surprising really. He may have idealistic views about building a better Britain, but I don’t really think David Cameron does – he just wants to rebuild the aristocratic hegemony that once ruled the old Tories, the landed gentry who liked to think of themselves as benign custodians of the poorer classes who couldn’t really look after themselves.
As for Menzies Campbell and the LibDems, joining forces now with Labour would not help their ambitions to become the second party of politics. Only changes to the electoral system can achieve that. Proportional Representation would certainly help them, as well as New Labour since it is widely expected only the Conservatives would suffer. Depending on which PR system was introduced of course. More on that another time.
I was hoping for a better Chancellor too. Alistair Darling has a mixed record, never really shining at anything, although time after time finding work in the Financial areas of the government. His stewardship of the Financial Services Authority was rather lacklustre, and I can’t think of a single thing where he jumped out of the woodwork and shone. It is said “we recruit in our own image” and maybe Gordon thinks someone who keeps their head down is an introvert like he considers himself to be. Gordon, there’s a difference between being shy, and being an introvert: you’re shy, not an introvert.
Still, it is early to judge, but first impressions count. I do like the idea of splitting some of the big departments up, but I do hope Gordon has seen episodes of “Yes, Minister” to see how his grand designs can be so easily absorbed without change by the Civil Servants.
In the end, they always rule.