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John Hutton: Tory fig-leaf

Today, a report commissioned by one of the most radical right-wing governments in modern British history is being published. It recommends slashing the pensions of six million public sector workers while forcing them to contribute more and retire later. It sums up the Government’s whole approach to the economic crisis that erupted three years ago. The pillars of any civilised society – our nurses, teachers and other front-line staff – will be forced to suffer, while the banks who caused the crisis will have their balance sheets topped up by generous cuts to Corporation Tax.

And who is the face of this assault? The author of the report, of course: John Hutton, New Labour’s former Work and Pensions secretary.

John Hutton is not alone in making the rather small leap from über-Blairite zealot to Cameron advisor. One of Blair’s old right-hand men, Alan Milburn, is another: and he’s currently bludgeoning satire to death by advising the Tories on social mobility .

When it was announced that former Labour ministers had become advisors to the Conservative-led Government, former Labour deputy leader John Prescott denounced them as “collaborators“. I wouldn’t go that far, because it is intended to bring up memories of France’s Nazi-aligned Vichy regime, and I recoil at carelessly throwing Nazi parallels around.

But both Hutton and Milburn were appointed not for their expertise, but as political figleafs – and it is pointless to suggest otherwise. They are helping to confer legitimacy on a government that failed to win it at the ballot box. The Tories won just 36% of the popular vote last May, but are now ruthlessly implementing a hard right agenda. ‘Ah,’ they can say, ‘we are a moderate government drawing on talents from right across the political spectrum.’

I’m not calling for Ed Miliband to expel either Hutton or Milburn, because I favour process over arbitrary top-down expulsions. Instead Labour’s National Executive Committee must surely launch an urgent investigation into the conduct of both – and ‘poverty tsar’ Frank Field, for that matter. They are using their status as leading members of the Labour Party to provide political cover for Tory policies that will devastate communities across the country. If that is not “bringing the party into disrepute” – an expellable offence – then I don’t know what is.

As the Independent‘s thoughtful, nuanced Chief Political Correspondent Steve Richards has put it: “Ultra Blairites, Cameroons and Cleggite Liberals could all happily dance together in the same party.” I agree: and perhaps it is time the NEC gave them the chance to do so.

2 Comments

  1. Mick Williams says:

    And the ‘appointment’ of Liam Byrne to oversee policy development would appear to continue this trend for the future.

  2. Steve Kelly says:

    Personally, and a s labour Party member all three mentioned in your article are collaborators and traitors. There should be an investigation into their conduct and if necessary they should be expelled from the Labour Party unless they are prepared to recant.

    At a time when we as a party should be standing up against the most hated Tory Government ever in the history of this country, how can three members of the Labour party even consider working with them.

    At the very least Hutton should be sacked form his post.

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