Labour’s Turn Towards Electability
I was two notches too harsh on Ed Miliband in my assessment of his reshuffle of the Shadow Cabinet in my column for The Independent on Sunday.
After it had gone to press, Tristram Hunt, the new shadow Education Secretary (pictured), said he was on the side of parents who want to set up schools, and Rachel Reeves, the new shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said that Labour would be “tougher” than the Conservatives on social security benefits.
Yes, I know that Labour’s policy has not changed. The party is still opposed to new free schools outside areas of “need”, although Hunt was notably unspecific about how that might be defined. And it is still in favour of regional variation in the benefit cap, which means that it could be higher than £26,000 a year in London.
But the language is different. Hunt:
There are lots of parents out there who want to set up schools. What I am saying is if you want to do that when we are in government we will be on your side. There has been this perception that we would not be, and I want people to be absolutely clear that we are. I am putting rocket boosters on getting behind parents and social entrepreneurs.
Reeves, asked about the benefit cap, “said she backed it”, and said only that Labour would “look at” regional variations:
I think it is right that those people who are in work do not feel that those who aren’t in work are getting something that they couldn’t dream of getting.
Those are significant changes in the right direction, and should be welcomed as such.Tagged in: ed miliband
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