Sunday, 22 February 2009


An article by Polly Toynbee in yesterday's Guardian gave me pause for thought. She said:
Labour has lost its political talent. So long in power, ministers are now managers toiling in their silos, talking like policemen, devoid of political imagination.
This is clearly true. It's hard to think of any Labour politician today of ability, stature, and judgement. Mandelson has ability but no judgement. Brown is a wonderful number 2, hopelessly at sea as leader. And I certainly can't think of any other true talent. Blears? More of a squirrel than a politician. Smith? Fiddling your expenses is so depressingly low that she doesn't deserve to run a sixth form debating society, let along the Home Office. Miliband? Almost certainly complicit with torture. Certainly this generation of Labour politicians are not nearly as inspiring as Robin Cook, let alone Bevin, Atlee or Morrison. The only politician of the Left that comes close is Vince Cable and he's a liberal democrat. (Excuse me while I wash my mouth out with soap and water.)

This suggests a broader question. Is it actually possible for any party to stay in power in Britain for an extended period without using up its talent? The Tories didn't manage it either: just compare the last Major cabinet with the first Thatcher one. Perhaps the system is set up so it is close to impossible to both govern and renew the party.



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