Old school Johnson ready to scrap with Osborne?

To many it may have proved to be a major surprise that former postie Alan Johnson got the job of  shadow chancellor instead of cocksure Ed Balls.

However, for the minority of the Labour Party it represented that Ed Miliband is prepared to take the heavy steps towards unity amongst the shadow cabinet, avoiding the fall-out culture catalysed by the Blair regime.

Even though Johnson’s appointment will give Labour members who voted for David Miliband a strand of hope, it does seem that the MP for West Hull and Hessle will be favouring cutting the deficit by implementing firmer tax rises.


Shadow chancellor Alan Johnson has the emotional connection with the working-class families but does he have strong enough credentials to shoot down slippery George Osborne at the dispatch box? Photo: Downing Street

The Tories in mid-week made a hash of things at their own party conference, with David Cameron promising a “family friendly party” but then left with a red face after it was revealed the latest Coalition cuts will hit the poorest families hardest.

Looking past his rather ragged CV that lists leaving school at 15, working on the shop floor at Tesco’s before becoming a postie, Johnson was and always will be a Blairite. Even though the 60-year-old is a former trade union leader, many left-wing voters may see the appointment as taking a backstep and the knowledge that he’s possibly not the toughest when it comes to economic policy may have left George Osborne and friends at the Tatton Conservative Club in heaps of laughter as the shadow cabinet positions were announced.

There is no doubt that the man who decided to go on the dole as a lifestyle choice will  provide transparent relation to working-class families who the Tories seem to be undermining. But it will be for London-born Johnson to fall back on Labour’s root social values and go against the grain instead of choosing to live with irresponsible modern economical practice.

A man who everyone knows hasn’t had a particularly glamorous life is now in a position where he can lash out at the opposition, who now choose to preserve their best china for weekends rather than exploiting their real behaviour on a daily basis. Ed Miliband along with Johnson finds further balance amongst his shadow public spending team by making MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, Douglas Alexander his work and pensions shadow secretary.

It is now assumed that the title of Red Ed can be dropped and replaced with Ready Ed as it seems the younger of the Miliband brothers has fired back at critics claiming that Labour’s counter-cuts policy was being arrested by the unions, which certainly looks as though it won’t happen under Johnson’s watch.

On the other hand however, he does bring the element of the working-class man that is necessary to balance the books that document Miliband’s more comfortable middle-class and forgiving background.

Once the former home secretary makes it to the dispatch box there will be no room for emotional weakness as waiting on the opposite side will be the slippery figure of chancellor Osborne ready to slither out of any uncertain situation.

If Johnson’s new role of shadow chancellor is to be a successful one he’ll need to do much more than oppose cuts, he’ll have to make evident to the electorate his internal desire to build a strong and prosperous future for millions of families across the country.

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