Archive for Alan Johnson

Alternatives to Ed Miliband…

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2011 by eljmayes

Frank Field earlier this week stated that Ed Miliband would hang onto his job as Labour leader as “There are no other alternatives to Ed Miliband”. A ringing endorsement I’m sure you would agree. Let’s have a look at those with a feasible chance of becoming Labour leader, conveniently in three sections- those who would be better than Ed Miliband as Labour leader, those who are on the same level as Ed Miliband as Labour leader, and those who would be worse than Ed Miliband as Labour leader. Please be aware these are my own personal opinions as always, if you disagree please use the comments box below.

Those who would better than Ed Miliband as Labour leader

David Miliband- Ed’s bigger brother is better presentationally and would undoubtedly shift the party to the right if he were to become leader. This would help get valuable media outlets back onside for Labour and give them more scope to concentrate on little issues that seem to catch out Cameron on a regular basis. Whilst I think David is far better than his brother presentationally, he still gives off a slightly awkward vibe in interviews which affects his connection with the voting public. I feel David Miliband won’t stand for the Labour leadership in this Parliament if there were a contest. He would be much better served to stand in 2015 if Labour lose that year’s General Election.

Ed Balls- At his best Ed Balls is a very clever, combative politician who is far better at conveying his messages to the public than Ed Miliband. However, he can come across as slightly condescending (putting it politely) in interviews to the media and would certainly steer the Labour party firmly to the left if he were to become leader. Balls is well liked by the unions (more so than David Miliband in a straight run off) and has to considered as the front runner in any leadership contest should Ed Miliband be ousted in this Parliament.

Yvette Cooper- Cooper is similar Ed Balls presentationally with a combative, no nonsense style at the Despatch Box. I doubt the Shadow Home Secretary would wish to run in any leadership contest, favouring to support her husband to win such a contest.

Andy Burnham– Burnham is again much better than Miliband presentationally, having an easy  going “man of the people” style that endears him to the public. Whether as leader Burnham would shift the party further to the right is to be seen as he doesn’t belong to either the Blair or Brown camp, which may harm his chances in a leadership contest. Much like David Miliband, Burnham would be better served sitting out a leadership contest in this Parliament in my opinion, biding his time until a possible opening in 2015.

Jim Murphy- Murphy has a calm, understated style much like Andy Burnham. He is the only Shadow Cabinet  member currently to be landing significant blows on his opposite number Liam Fox. Murphy seems to be an ideal candidate for the leadership role. The problem is he currently is an MP in Scotland, and therefore a MP who could lose their job if the country was to gain independence for the rest of the UK. It would be foolish for him to stand before the referendum is held and for this reason I can’t rank him as a contender.

Chuka Umunna- Umunna has made waves since being elected at last year’s General Election, being put forward for many media appearances on behalf of the opposition and has a calculated presentational style. Umunna is too young to be taken as a serious contender for the Labour leadership at the present time however in my opinion.

Alan Johnson- Johnson is by far the best candidate Labour could field as leader and would take the party to the right. Unfortunately for the party he will likely step down at the next General Election.

Those who are on the same level as Ed Miliband as Labour leader

John Healey- I have always found Labour’s love for Healey baffling. He isn’t any better than Ed Miliband presentationally and he hasn’t exactly made Andrew Lansley sweat as Shadow Health Secretary, even after his series of u-turns on health reform. Healey would be no better for Labour than Miliband and I doubt he’d run if the Labour leader’s post was available.

Douglas Alexander- Alexander strikes me as a politician who always underperforms in media appearances. He isn’t terrible presentationally, but as he is so close to Ed Miliband I doubt he would run in a leadership election.

Sadiq Khan-  Khan is a relatively astute politician but he doesn’t offer anything radically different to Miliband. Any potential leadership contest would not feature Khan I’d wager.

Harriet Harman- Harman did well as a stand in Labour leader after the General Election but is still a marmite politician, you either love her or you hate her. She seems content in her current role and it would be a shock if she stood for party leader.

Those who would be worse than Ed Miliband as Labour leader

Peter Hain- Hain is terrible presentationally, especially in media appearances. Being Ed Miliband’s closest ally it would seem very strange if he were to stand in any leadership election after his friend’s ousting.

Tessa Jowell– Jowell is essentially a female version of Peter Hain sans tan, poor presentationally with little to endear her to the voting public. She is coming towards the end of her political career and to stand for party leader should the opportunity arise would seem bizarre at this stage.

Liam Byrne- A Blairite, Byrne should be a contender in any leadership election. After his “There is no money left” note however I think he is just happy to be in the Shadow Cabinet currently.

The reason why I have put such prominence on presentational skills in this post is because I believe Cameron will run a presidential campaign in 2015, much like Alex Salmond’s Scottish Election campaign this year. It is essential for Labour to have an able media performer in any General Election campaign. I doubt Ed Miliband can get to Cameron’s level presentationally within four years. At the present time, I rate Ed Miliband’s chances of still being Labour leader at the next General Election fifty-fifty at best.








Good Week, Bad Week 22/05/11…

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2011 by eljmayes

Good Week

Alan Johnson- Johnson showed on Friday’s episode of Have I Got News For You why he will missed on the front bench of the Shadow Cabinet. He was assured, funny and clever in the host’s role. I can see a return to frontline politics for Johnson, but only if his party moves further to the right or Ed Miliband is replaced as Labour leader.

Chris Huhne- Huhne has had a great week this week by somehow remaining in his job. I have a feeling that his luck may run out soon though.

Bad Week

David Cameron- The Prime Minister himself has had a relatively uneventful week but his party as a whole has had a terrible one. Cameron performed badly at Prime Minister’s Questions after Ken Clarke’s confused comments about “different” types of rape with Ed Miliband landing some clear verbal blows. The Tory leader will be heartened by his party’s high poll ratings and Gordon Brown’s IMF leadership bid implosion however.

Nick Clegg- The Deputy Prime Minister has had a poor week after his plans for Lords reform were criticized heavily by both the Conservative and Labour back benches. Substantial tweaking will be needed to his proposals to avoid the humiliation of another public defeat like the AV Referendum.

Ed Miliband- Miliband has had a very mixed week, he excelled at Prime Minister’s Questions but then delivered a dire, vacuous speech to a left wing forum this weekend. The Leader of the Opposition desperately needs to up his game in my opinion, apologising for the economical failures of the last Labour Government and formulating some concrete policy ideas in the short to medium term.

Ken Clarke- Clarke got in real muddle over “different” types of rape in a radio interview and although he recovered rather brilliantly on the subsequent day’s Question Time I feel he will be reshuffled in early 2012.

Theresa May- The Home Secretary drew no reaction whatsoever from The Police Federation after their leader heavily objected to the impending twenty percent cuts to their budget. The Tories need to find a way of remaining the party that is perceived to be tough on crime as this could be a vital attack line for Labour long term.

Gordon Brown- Gordon Brown looks like he has missed out on the top job at the IMF which may mean he can attend Parliament more often. Or not, as the case may be.

Alan Johnson Gets “Passionate” About The AV Referendum…

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , on May 5, 2011 by eljmayes

By swearing at Labour Peer Paul Boateng. Strong language in this video.

Good Week, Bad Week 23/01/11…

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2011 by eljmayes

Good Week

Nick Clegg- Clegg has had a good week by nothing bad happening in or around his party, and the Lib Dems’ poll ratings stabilising.

Ed Miliband- Miliband has had a mixed week with Alan Johnson’s resignation and Andy Coulson leaving his role at No.10. The Coulson story is good news for Miliband short term as it gives him a platform to question Cameron’s judgement, but long term I see it not making much of an impact with voters. Johnson’s resignation means Miliband has been forced into an early reshuffle which looks to have strengthened his and Labour’s position (if he can keep his Shadow Cabinet under control). A major reason why I would say Miliband has had a good week over a bad week is Labour’s poll ratings. Labour are consistently polling above forty percent in nearly every poll now which is great news for them this early in the electoral cycle.

Ed Balls- Alan Johnson’s resignation means Balls has had a good week. Balls is undoubtedly substance over style, with his combative approach being very love/hate for the voting public. If Miliband can control him and stop him from taking control of the party’s direction, Balls could prove the driving force behind Labour winning seats at the next election. That’s a very big “if” however.

Yvette Cooper- Cooper’s appointment to Shadow Home Secretary means she will be in role where she can actively attack the Coalition. As I have stated previously, the role of Shadow Foreign Secretary is basically a role in that you agree with the Government on every subject, which is not Cooper’s style.

Bad Week-

David Cameron- Andy Coulson’s resignation has masked a poor week for the Prime Minister. Inflation is higher than expected, unemployment figures are still very high and the Coalition’s NHS reforms have been greeted with criticism from medical professionals, not just Labour. Cameron will replace Coulson with a similar personality and I doubt the voting public will punish the Tories at the ballot box for any subsequent revelations of phone hacking involving the ex-editor of The News of the World. Long term, Cameron needs to establish a narrative that Labour cannot be trusted with the economy, and Ed Balls’ appointment to Shadow Chancellor may have made that job slightly easier.

Alan Johnson- Johnson’s resignation means he is the last of the Blairites to leave a senior role in the Shadow Cabinet. His presence helped “balance the ticket” higher up in the Shadow Cabinet and without him I have doubts the Labour party can avoid moving away from the centre ground of British politics to the left. As for Johnson’s political career, I suspect he’ll walk away at the next General Election with little fanfare.

Andy Coulson- Coulson leaving his role at No.10 asks more questions than it answers as to further allegations of phone hacking. For the Tories it means he is now not associated with them and so the only damage going forward will be opposition jibes about Cameron’s judgement in employing Coulson. Personally for Coulson I expect him to take a very low profile role in the city.

Liam Byrne- Byrne cannot be relishing the thought of going up against Iain Duncan Smith week in, week out in his new portfolio of Work and Pensions can he?

Shadow Cabinet Face Offs…

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2010 by eljmayes

So Ed Miliband has decided (rather quickly) on his Shadow Cabinet going forward- here are the tussles that await those lucky enough to be selected.

Shadow Chancellor- Alan Johnson faces George Osborne Johnson will almost certainly be to the right of Ed Balls fiscally (as he backed David Miliband’s leadership campaign so strongly) which will make him more credible to the country but perhaps not in his own party or to the unions. Coalition will no doubt try to portray Johnson as the “old generation” who was at the centre of the last Government which racked up a massive deficit. My gut feeling is Ed Miliband won’t be able to reign in Johnson as Brown did with Darling, and a coherent message on the economy may suffer.

Shadow Home Secretary- Ed Balls faces Theresa May Balls could be effective in this role, especially with the cuts that are coming to the Police. The issue with Balls is one of whether or not he can focus entirely on his brief and not go off on tangents. If he does drift off message towards his specialist subject, the economy, he could come into conflict with those on the right of his party.

Shadow Foreign Secretary- Yvette Cooper faces William Hague Cooper will be wasted shadowing Hague as the Shadow Foreign Secretary role is one mainly of agreement with the Government, there are few major foreign policy differences between all three major parties after all. Cooper would have been better suited to the Education or Defence portfolio in my opinion.

Shadow Health Secretary- John Healey faces Andrew Lansley Health is a rather tricky subject for Labour in opposition because of the Coalition’s commitment to increase spending on the NHS in real terms throughout the Parliamentary cycle. Healey is an unknown, and to an extent Andrew Lansley is as well. I predict therefore (scandals notwithstanding) health and the NHS will slip down the Labour attack agenda as they oppose cuts to other sectors more vehemently .

Shadow Education Secretary- Andy Burnham faces Michael Gove Burnham isn’t as combative as Ed Balls, who was effective against Gove whilst he was Shadow Education Secretary after the General Election. Burnham is a more likeable character however, and his “man from up North” persona may play well against Gove’s (slightly) upper class persona. I expect education to be a key battleground over the Parliamentary cycle, with every single cut being opposed by Labour.

Shadow Defence Secretary- Jim Murphy faces Dr. Liam Fox Defence is by far the most emotive role a politician could be appointed to at the current time. With Fox seemingly disenfranchised with his party over the cuts, Murphy should be able to make headway if he can outline where cuts to our Armed Forces should be made (no mean feat admittedly).

The rest of the Shadow Cabinet would seem to face an uphill struggle against there opposite numbers in the Coalition. Sadiq Khan will not relish taking on Ken Clarke at the despatch box on Justice matters, and neither will Douglas Alexander look forward to challenging Iain Duncan Smith on the subject of Work and Pensions. Ed Miliband’s strategy going forward must be to set up three or four credible attack lines on the cuts maximum and to maintain cohesion between his MPs, activists and trade unions.

Could Johnson Be The Saviour Of Labour?..

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , on May 2, 2009 by eljmayes

Fifties throwback Alan Johnson is going to be increasingly in the public eye over the next few months due to the swine flu outbreak. However bad any outbreak gets he is going to have plenty of opportunities to put himself in position for the leadership if Labour do finally get rid of Brown, likely this Autumn if the Labour share drops below twenty five percent across the polls. His biggest rival for the post would be Harriet Harman who has the backing of the party’s grassroots but not from the wider electorate I believe.

If Brown does hang on and loses the election with a Tory landslide then clearly he would be a fool to stand for the “Hague” position where Labour could not win after a single term. Johnson’s best chance would be to either force Brown out or wait until 2015 if the polls at this time are correct. A cheeky tenner on Johnson may pay dividends in six months if Labour continue with their ongoing implosion.

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