Friday 1 October 2010

Big egos

In yesterday's Guardian Ed Milliband was quoted as saying that it would have been "fantastic to have (David) serving in my cabinet...He is my brother and as leader of my party my door is always open for him to serve in the future." (my italics)

But it isn't his party, it belongs to its members (who, incidentally, along with individual trade union members, voted for him by a massive majority of 175 000 to 145 000 - there is nothing "narrow" about his victory). The shadow cabinet, which is chosen not by him but by Labour MPs, surely belongs to all of us - it is that part of our constitution which, if it does its job properly, leads the task of holding our government to account and offering a viable alternative.

I can't remember the exact words, but Nick Clegg too, when first elected Liberal Democrat leader, used phrases such as "under my leadership the Liberal Democrats will..." and "I will lead the Liberal Democrats to..." Liberal Democrats pride ourselves on being a very democratic party, and our "front man" should be leading us in the direction where we, the members, and those who vote for us, want us to go.

Our politics will be healthier if we move away from this absurd emphasis on the personalities and characters of the party leaders and return to the custom of collective leadership where the prime-minister is simply primus inter pares, and the the opposition leader is simply first among a team of talented alternatives.

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