After one of the most eagerly awaited (by the media and politicos) shadow cabinet announcements of recent times, Ed Miliband has named his team to take on the Tory/Lib Dem coalition.
So far the reaction from pundits and some Labour activists has been muted, with mutterings about missed opportunities from not putting Ed Balls into the Treasury or parking Yvette Cooper at the cul-de-sac of the Foreign Office. Having thought about today’s announcement for a while and taken a few soundings, I have to confess that I don’t share the pessimism of those who think that Ed could and should have chosen differently.
Maybe I’m mellowing out in my old age, but I think that It’s not necessarily the best move to go with the obvious choices from day one. Why go with what people (and your enemies) expect?
Lets face it, the Tories in particular but also the Lib Dems are in for a bruising battle after the announcement of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) on 20 October. So, why not put some tried and trusted people in the key positions to take advantage of this. Johnson is generally acknowledged to be a smooth operator but one who is convincing. He should be a good match for Osborne and the Tories wont be able to use the Balls/Cooper angle on the crucial battleground of the economy.
Another useful move by Ed Miliband I think is to use the female ‘bloc’ where necessary against the coalition’s key performers. Yvette Cooper against William Hague and Caroline Flint against Eric Pickles should be very interesting and entertaining to watch. While I would have liked to see new faces in the shadow ‘nations’ posts, Ed has brought back Hain and Woodward because he didn’t have any other experienced alternatives for Wales and Northern Ireland.
Today’s announcements show that Labour’s new leader is more than prepared to show the coalition that they will not be able to have a go and portray him as someone who is a rabid left winger but a serious contender for PM. I think he sees the long game and I reckon he is preparing accordingly.
Phase one is to negotiate the CSR and come up with a credible alternative. Phase two should be to start to set the agenda in preparation for the next election. An election, by the way, which could still happen sooner than people think.
Politics has just got a whole lot more interesting.