Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Deputy Leadership

According to this article in the Guardian, a recent poll shows "Two-thirds of Labour's remaining members want Tony Blair to stand down by the autumn conference next year,
......The poll also reveals members want the deputy leader, John Prescott, to stand down at the same time as Mr Blair."

Gordon Brown will be leader, so the interesting question is who should be deputy. I thought I'd try to answer it from an ordinary voter's point of view - well, I've never been to a political meeting let alone met any of the people I'm writing about, so my views are formed through looking at them via the prism of the media (as are all voters views).

You really need to look at Gordon Brown first, to work out who would most compliment him. Brown comes across as an old-fashioned male. Gruff, rumpled, a bit of a workaholic, reliable, stable, solid, protective of his wife. I really like his wife from the little I've seen of her - she comes across as shy and unassuming - a good contrast to the cold Samantha Cameron and the pushy Cherie Blair.

Gordon Brown's Chancellor should be Ed Balls - it would be a travesty if he didn't get the job. This job needs to be filled on technical merit and Balls is the only one with the brains for it, and whom the City would automatically respect. He would also represent a form of policy continuity. Balls comes across in this profile as a bit of a "New Lad" - all economics and football and "Flippin 'eck's".

So you have "Old Lad" in Brown, and "New Lad" in Balls, each representing the maleness of their generation. Male voters, who have felt public life has been feminised, will love it, as will those males who find Cameron to be a bit too camp and metrosexual (in a way that Blair is not) - and that's most of them.

In the Foreign Office, Margaret Beckett - she represents, cool, capable older woman.

Therefore the Deputy Leadership cannot go to Alan Johnson - he's a cheeky chappy of the sort you see in 1960's movies. It would make the front line-up too male, it would be male-overkill, alienating 30-something females like myself. Jack Straw - associated with Iraq. Peter Hain - looks like a cipher. Harriet Harman - too bland, not sharp enough, too fluffy, doesn't seem up to the job.

Here's a suggestion - what about Caroline Flint? She's female, her look is typical of a lot of women in their thirties and forties, a managerial type, she's representative of our generation in a way Ruth Kelly is not, we can relate to her. I don't know what her background is, but she has the look of a bright working-class woman who has succeeded. She seems to handle the hard questions well on Newsnight.

With her in the line-up, you'd have two men, each representaive of their generations, and two capable women, also representative of their generations. You'd have one Scot and three English people. Two older people, two younger people. Working class and middle class, in contrast to the aristocrats and millionaires in the Tory line-up.

There's no-one fluffy there - but it's only fashionistas in London who find the Cameron fluffiness attractive. The rest of us find him too limp-wristed. People want capable government, not cute.

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