AJ and the Thick of It
I like my OJ, but I have never really been that found of Labour’s AJ. With Alan Johnson resigning over ‘personal reasons’, focus turns to Ed Balls and the (related) question of ‘what are these personal reasons’. My first thought was that it was some parody to the classic scene in the Thick of It where Tucker gets the minister to resign over his ‘deeply held f****** personal issues’ when in fact there are no problems, and the PM and Tucker just fancy moving the minister out. However, things have come to light that suggest Ed Balls may have passed information to the papers about an AJ affair. If this is true; whilst AJ is an idiot for cheating, he shouldn’t have to resign over the matter – but given AJ’s record his resignation is understandable.
Whilst not directly comparable, I can’t resist a chance to share the Thick of It clip I am referring to:
Balls and the Greens
Whilst, at the moment, what happened to AJ is limited to rumours it is important to consider the ramifications of Ed Balls being placed as shadow chancellor. Alan Johnson should have never been given the job in the first place, and now Ed Balls will find the job harder. He might have carved out an alternative in the leadership campaign, one where he voiced scepticism over Labour’s support for cuts; but Ed Miliband and AJ have had time to employ a wrecking ball to many people’s hopes. Ed Miliband didn’t take long to get the ball out today, downplaying Balls’ influence by stating that Labour intend to carry on with AJ’s economic ‘plan’ (whatever that was). It was only this week Ed Miliband was employing the neoliberal line of ‘cuts are the answer’.
Where do the Greens come into this you may ask? Well when Balls announced his change in direction re economic policy I commented on the insight such an analysis can have for the Greens given their desire to halve the deficit by 2013 (through no cuts, however). There is no need for the Greens to be committed to such a target. Regardless, Ed Balls can also learn a lot from the Greens in terms of the unstable effects endless growth has on the environment; the natural world isn’t an endless ‘resource’ – and our inability to have sustainable economic, political and social relations/praxis is inconceivably dangerous
The Need to be Positive
Whilst Labour have a lot to change before they can be considered a truly progressive force, the appointment of Ed Balls gives Labour a distinct hope in carving out a real alternative to the government’s economic plans. Currently, Labour stands for what equates to the same painful cuts the government is enacting, just at a slower pace. This isn’t good enough; and Ed Balls has a real chance to assert some authority over Labour’s economic plans, something that hasn’t happened in a long time.
This is important, because whilst parties such as the Greens are essential, we do need a ‘mainstream’ political outlet to help enhance the credibility of an economic alternative. The Tories and LibDems underestimate the power such a move can have, especially now.
Regardless, whilst the fight to reform Labour is important we mustn’t lose sight of the political movement growing outside of traditional politics. This itself can put pressure on Labour to change, but it also creates counter-posing tendencies to the state and its related power relations. Also given that the Greens have challenges in the north, where the cuts are hitting people the hardest, the northern mainstream channels for political protest are the most bleak.
Nevertheless, there is always that feeling that no matter what happens the mainstream parties will never ignore the calls of the Daily Mail and the Murdoch’s. Labour have a chance to start realising that politics needs a radical labour movement more than ever. However, even if the leadership fails to see this, there are radical political forces such as the Greens and the outside political movements growing asside from traditional politics. But it would be naive to deny that what happens to Labour doesn’t matter.