16 June 2009

There will no inquiry into this little war

According to Rachel Sylvester’s piece in The Times, our Government is at war.  No bullets are being fired but the odd mobile phone could be doing some damage.  The spat is between Brown, Mandy and and Balls.  She explains:

The problem for Mr Brown is this: the man on his right [Mandy] and the man on his left [Balls] disagree fundamentally about the future direction of the Labour Party and the next election campaign. With his head Gordon knows he should follow Peter, but his heart is still with Ed. “In the end he's got to decide whether he's going to leave Ed and go off with Peter,” says a Cabinet minister. “That's the only way he will find happiness and win.”

Let us dispense with the happiness bit.  Moving on to the important points:

The Business Secretary has always shied away from class war - he wants to appeal to posh and poor. He is instinctively suspicious of fighting another election on “investment versus cuts” - a rehash of Labour's past two campaigns, which took place in a very different economic climate. An interesting alliance has formed in Cabinet between Lord Mandelson and Alistair Darling, who argue that the Government has to be honest with the voters that there will be spending cuts whoever wins power.

I am told that the Chancellor is not entirely happy about Labour's campaign dubbing the Tory leader “Mr Ten Per Cent”, and that the new Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liam Byrne, was initially reluctant to front a “Tory cuts” press conference organised yesterday by No 10. They know that it would be just as easy for the Conservatives to run a “Labour cuts” ad. Indeed, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, if the schools budget is ring-fenced along with health - as Mr Balls suggested yesterday - then there would have to be a 13.5 per cent cut in spending on other departments. Does that mean Mr Brown is Mr 13.5 Per Cent?

Along with other ministers such as Alan Johnson, David Miliband and Ms Jowell, Lord Mandelson would prefer to see an election campaign based on Labour plans to reform public services and restructure the economy.

So, we have the Blairite wing of the party lead by Mandy and in the other corner Brown and Balls.  With Mandy’s henchmen planted all over Whitehall and with reinforcements due at any minute, it is battle he will surely win.  The problem as usual is Brown, who could well side with the boy Balls.  My guess is that Mandy is several moves ahead of Balls and will win the day.  However, if Mandy does lose out to Balls, then what?  Does Mandy turn against Brown?

Keep an eye on this little local difficultly.  It could well explode in Brown’s face if he is not careful.

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