In his choices for his first shadow cabinet, Ed Miliband gave a strong indication of the approach he plans for the Labour Party in opposition—and it isn’t promising.
Miliband appointed Alan Johnson—who thinks trade unionists are from “planet Zog”—as shadow chancellor.
Johnson does a good line in “working class bloke made good”, which will contrast pleasantly enough with George Gideon Osborne in the House of Commons.
But his actual qualification for the job is that he isn’t Ed Balls or Yvette Cooper.
So as far as Miliband was concerned, what matters is that Johnson thinks the deficit must be reduced and there must be cuts.
Both Balls and Cooper think there shouldn’t be as many cuts and the deficit can wait.
And having Balls as shadow home secretary plays to his weakness.
Ball’s call for an engagement with working class people will mostly mean shadowing the anti-immigration prejudices of the most right wing tabloids.
This is reflected throughout the whole shadow cabinet with all sorts of New Labour right wingers getting jobs.
As a small example, Caroline Flint is the junior shadow minister who will be taking on the Tories’ attacks on housing benefits and security of tenure.
The only problem is that she agrees with half of what they say.
As the Tories prepare the worst cuts in generations, Miliband’s first steps as Labour leader were to appease the party’s right wing and pander to the press—rather than stand up for the trade unionists who voted him in as leader.
Many Labour supporters will be disappointed.
We should unite to demand that the party throws its weight behind resistance to the cuts.