The Observer on 8 December published a leaked Labour Party memo showing that Alan Milburn is to have a role in Labour’s planning for the general election in 2015.
Just how big a role is really not clear. The memo outlines no fewer than 22 committees to run election strategy!
But Labour’s elected National Executive figures nowhere in the maze of committees. Nor do trade unionists. Milburn does figure.
Milburn was a Blairite Labour minister from 1998 to 2005, responsible for introducing Foundation Trusts and PFI in the Health Service.
Since he has been serving the Tory-led government as its so-called “social mobility tsar”. Tsar of a small domain rather than a big empire, but for the government.
When Milburn took the job, former Labour deputy leader John Prescott called him — and John Hutton and Frank Field, other former Labour ministers who had accepted jobs with the government — “collaborators”.
Andy Burnham, Labour’s current health spokesperson, said that Milburn accepting the job was a “kick in the teeth” to Labour supporters.
Milburn has served the Tory government so well that in February 2012 the Times reported Downing Street officials discussing the “intriguing idea” that he should be offered a seat in the Lords and a job as Health Secretary for the coalition. That was scuppered, as far as we can tell, by Cameron preferring to give the job to Jeremy Hunt rather than by objections from Milburn.
Labour and trade union activists should demand an election campaign run by elected, accountable party committees, guided by party conference policies.