Johnson out; Balls in….Now we need an alternative economic strategy!

Something of a shocking day then; Alan Johnson resigns as Shadow Chancellor and is replaced by Ed Balls.  It’s no surprise that AJ hasn’t lasted as Shadow Chancellor; that was never the plan. He was always a stop-gap which in and of itself in such a sensitive position, where generating a sense of stability is a must, shows how deeply flawed Ed Miliband’s original decision was. I maintain it was motivated by personal concerns for his position and not by an honest assessment of who was best for the job – something that was clearly shown by the fact that Johnson was ‘in the traps and screaming’ from the beginning. Whatever motivated his decision I am sure he will on one level at least be glad to be out of it. He probably should have chosen to depart on competency grounds if he had wanted to keep his personal life out of it and said to hell with the damage this would have done Miliband – it is, after all little more than his selfish decision deserves. It’s to be hoped he is left alone  but the manner of his departure makes that outcome highly unlikely.

I hope the stories about the negative briefing by Ed Balls and his team prove to be untrue because if they don’t it could sow some poisonous seeds that may germinate in the future. Nonetheless, they are a distraction from the real politics. My first suggestion to Ed Balls would be to ignore just about everything Ed Miliband has to say when it comes to the economy. The fact he is more likely too is more grist to the mill that the ‘threat’ posed by Balls was the reason he was never appointed in the first place. Watching Johnson and Miliband trying to cobble together something like a coherent economic vision has, for the vast majority of the time, been very painful indeed. In fact, its been like watching two moles desperately attempting to play a convincing game of ‘I Spy’.

I am under no illusions about what Balls is and what Balls isn’t. However, in his Bloomberg speech he showed he at least has a clue about where to start with constructing a truly alternative vision for Labour. If you added into the speech a commitment to nurturing a new, more democratic, economy with a strong commitment to the co-operative and mutual forms of organisation then you have the beginnings of something bold, challenging and that could offer Labour a really strong coherent vision of how we are different from the Conservatives.

None of this would equate to everything I want and feel should happen but it would be the beginnings of something inspired by Labour values and something that could really fundamentally being the ball rolling on lasting change in Britain. I hope Ed Balls sticks with this; I hope he does not let his vision be restricted by our leaders timidity. No matter how he got there he is the right person in the right place. Labour needs him where he is now but after the dust has settled; it needs to take the next step and put forward a truly radical economic alternative.

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About darrellgoodliffe

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7 responses to “Johnson out; Balls in….Now we need an alternative economic strategy!”

  1. Ryan Thomas says :

    Agreed, this is great news. The turning point will be the policy review, at which point I think we will start to see Labour move away from the Darling-Johnson plan toward something more closely resembling the vision Ed Balls articulated in his Bloomberg speech.

    I am not sure I would agree with the assessment that Ed Miliband’s appointment of Johnson was “selfish”, more strategic (though maybe I am splitting hairs here). It was clearly a way of keeping the hard right of the party onside, which I think is crucial to the stability of the party (I think how Miliband handles the Blairites will be pivotal to the success or failure of his leadership). I am optimistic that we are seeing the start of a retreat from Blairism back toward something resembling, however vague at this stage, Labour values.

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  2. Robert says :

    I’m sad that Johnson had to go so early he gave Miliband a bit of time without having to have first aid for the knife marks in his back.

    Romours already doing the rounds is Balls has been spreading a few nice remarks about Johnson problems, if true I think Labours got problems again with the power house of personalities taking over.

    But in the end it does not really matter, we do not have what I call a labour party, Miliband is another of those people who now see Thatcher as being a great leader, and they all want to be great leaders.

    I’ve seen first hand at what labour thinks of the council housing dwellers, the sick the disabled who will now make way to repay the countries debt.

    I can remember being in a room listening to Blair rants about welfare and how it’s unfair to have one benefit higher then another, in other words one benefit and it should be the same, which would be £63 a week.

    So in the end for me it makes no difference if I’m being shit on by the Tories or the labour party it all smells the same.

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  3. John Reid says :

    After the ’83 election, Tony Benn’s other comment apart form that we lsot as it wasn’t left wing enoug was “ahh but 8 million people voted for Schoscialsim “(I put the extra “H” in as thats the way he talks,)
    Sunny Hundal, Sam Tarry,Laurie Penny all joining the labour party and silencing those who disagree, looks like we’re out of power for a generation again,

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  4. Robert says :

    Well labour is a left wing group or is was Kinnock changed it because basically he looked and sounded like Brown, he pissed off the public by saying go home get ready to rule, problem is most of us pissed off home and stayed home come voting day, sadly like a good little socialist I voted Labour.
    But right now I’m having a hell of a time seeing the difference between Cameron and Blair, Blair and Miliband, both are career politician who will go off after a short while and make a fortune

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  5. darrellgoodliffe says :

    @Ryan,

    I hope your right about the Policy Review turning a corner.

    I think we mean broadly similar things to be honest though the edge to my comment is that I think it was motivated by Ed’s desire to protect his own self-interest hence the selfish designation. Yes but then the question becomes how far you go to keep people on side does it not? I hope your optimism is justified.

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  6. darrellgoodliffe says :

    @Robert,

    It seems now at this stage those rumours were just that.

    As you know, I share some of your frustrations here but the fact is that we have to think strategically about how to change that and in that sense the appointment of Balls was a blow in the right direction I feel.

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  7. darrellgoodliffe says :

    @John,

    Of the two people I know about you mentioned there I would describe neither as socialists. Neither Sunny, nor Laurie fit the bill to my mind so I think your concerns are a little premature and misguided to say the least…

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