AJ was the right choice for Shadow Chancellor
From the archives, 2nd September 2010:
"When he is elected leader, Ed Miliband will come under the most terrific pressure from the opposition, media and Blairites over his supposedly radical and left-wing policies. If David were elected leader, the main pressure which he would face would be to win over and enthuse the people who supported his brother or Ed Balls. To unite the Labour Party, Ed Miliband would need to appeal to the Right, David to the Left. "
8th October 2010: Leftie supporters of Ed Miliband get v v cross when he appoints Alan Johnson as Shadow Chancellor.
From the Shadow Cabinet appointments, it looks like Labour is planning strong opposition to government policies on the NHS, defence and police cuts - areas where they have put combative ministers who vocally disagree with what the government is planning. They seem more likely to try to find compromises on justice & prisons and welfare reform.
I understand why lefties wanted Ed Balls as Shadow Chancellor and his economic policy adopted 100% . But Balls doesn't come across particularly well to the public, and opponents of his policy within the Labour Party would have briefed journalists that they thought his policies were not credible. The resulting civil war would only have helped the Tories.
We know the problems when economic policy is seen as being under the sole control of the Chancellor - to win the economic argument and defeat the Tory cuts, we need an economic policy which the whole Cabinet - including Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper - are involved in developing and can sign up to. Johnson can be a persuasive public advocate for Labour's alternative and the comparisons between his life experience and George Osborne's help reinforce the message.
And in developing their alternative to George Osborne's savage cuts, Labour should pay close attention to this brilliant article from our new Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the fantastic Angela Eagle:
"The so-called deficit ‘emergency' was ironically caused not by profligate government spending but by a failure of the market-based international banking system and the triumph of unbridled greed amongst the super rich. David Cameron's immediate excuse to act was the deficit generated by the previous Labour government to stabilise our banks and successfully mitigate the social effects of the global recession which followed the credit crunch. He did so by launching an assault on the post-war state settlement more extreme than anything Mrs Thatcher's most swivel-eyed fanatics could have fantasised about. The theatrically named ‘emergency budget' began this process and the October spending review will continue it.
That there was no electoral mandate to introduce the largest public expenditure cuts in British peacetime history is clear. Those who voted Liberal Democrat had a right to assume that their chosen party would stick with the economic policy clearly set out in their manifesto at the election. Like Labour's, this emphasised the danger of cutting the deficit too far or too fast while economic recovery was still fragile. In fact it was this economic position which achieved majority endorsement once the votes were counted."