Nick Palmer (former Labour Party MP) Writes: Many of us who liked Greg Marshall’s campaign style in the 2017 election will be glad to hear that he’s been selected by Labour (with 92% of the membership supporting him) to stand next time. Broxtowe is one of the first seats in Britain to select its Labour candidate, reflecting the closeness of the result last time. With luck the Greens will swing behind Greg this time, making it closer still.
I’ve now completely moved down to Surrey because of my job as Head of Policy for Compassion in World Farming – I waited a few months to see if the job was working out, but it’s good fun and it was time to stop 3-hour commutes every weekend. I’m still going to be visiting friends from time to time (and saw at least 10 constituents who I recognised when I was up this weekend), but it makes sense to concentrate on m new surroundings, which are very different – you wouldn’t think Surrey and Bulwell (where I was living since last year) were the same country. It’s extremely pretty, twice as expensive (for rent anyway) and…a bit quiet. But I’m getting involved in Surrey Labour and exploring a few new sides of life that I’ve neglected up to now.
I’ll continue to chat about national politics now and then. The current state of affairs is extending the soap opera parallel: in the last two weeks, we’ve seen Cabinet-sourced attacks from colleagues on the PM, the Deputy PM, the Chancellor, the Foreign Minister and the Environment Minister. On the Jeremy Kyle show, they’d make an amusing family if you like that sort of thing; as a Government at this difficult time, they’re not really functional. I’m not saying they’re individually useless – May seems level-headed, Gove is doing a generally good job at Defra. But they’re not a team.
By contrast, Labour seems generally coherent, despite the occasional squabbles, and it’s very obvious that the leadership is focusing on offering a reasonable alternative government: it’s a long time since Corbyn and McDonnell were seen as gaffe-prone amateurs. The key issue financially is whether you think that the policy of borrowing at current low interest rates to improve public infrastructure will pay off: With the challenge of Brexit looming, I think we need to attend to our ramshackle economy with this type of focused approach – near-Saharan levels of low productivity growth (“let’s try to catch up with Upper Volta”, as the Economist put it sarcastically last year) and near-record level of payments deficits cannot continue indefinitely. I’d like to see buying out the PFI contracts given lower priority – it makes sense in the long term to bring the drain on finances to a close, but rushing out of all of them would be the same type of mistake as rushing into them turned out to be.
Best wishes, Nick