Thursday, 20 January 2011

Just when things were looking up for Labour

Alan Johnson, their Shadow Chancellor, has resigned out of the blue, citing 'family reasons'.

Presumably this means that the tabloid press has got something juicy to spend the weekend splashing over multiple pages with breathtaking hypocrisy. It may, of course, be a genuine family tragedy.

Either way, it's a shame. There's been a whispering campaign against Johnson because he's slipped up a couple of times and isn't an economist, but I thought making him shadow George Osborne was a very smart move: Johnson's a relaxed, personable working-class man who's done manual work for a living - everything George Osborne isn't. Labour desperately needs good communicators who've lived normal lives, and it needs some stability.

I wonder if Ed Miliband knew this when I saw him earlier - he seemed very relaxed, so it must be a complete surprise to him too.

Update: it appears that Johnson's bodyguard had an affair with his wife and other sources claim he had an affair with a civil servant, and the story was leaked by Ed Balls' special adviser. Obviously all relationships are complicated and we should resist tabloid-style moralising, but I think a period of leaving them alone would be in order. Poisonous.


Artog said...

I'm glad he's gone, it was so ridiculously tribal to have chosen him as shadow chancellor over Ed Balls - hopefully now Osborne will be properly challenged.

I lost any respect I had for Alan Johnson during the whole Professor Nutt fiasco.

The Plashing Vole said...

I do agree with you on the Nutt business. Johnson is thoroughly rightwing and used his background as cover to behave in a populist fashion. But I did think that without any need for a competent economist fronting the treasury shadow team for a while, he was a good foil for Osborne. In terms of tribalism, I can't help thinking that Ed's not the best choice. If he can behave himself, he'll be great. We'll see…