Watch out, there’s a new man in town. He is going to shake things up. He’s going to get things done. He’s a policy heavyweight and an inspirational leader-in-waiting. He’s going to rise up through the Westminster power structure and eventually become the Labour leader that Ed Miliband can only dream of being. He is Stephen Kinnock.
The face has the wistful, simple and vacant look reminiscent of Prince Edward on a bad day, albeit with even less charisma. Presumably he is charming enough in person, as he is happily married to Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the Prime Minister of Denmark. Kinnock Jr. currently lives in London while she and his children reside (naturally) in Copenhagen.
But now Stephen Kinnock, Son of Neil, First of his Name, is throwing his hat into the ring to be the Labour candidate for the Welsh constituency of Aberavon at the next general election.
The Guardian observes that this is by no means the first nonentity with a famous surname to try to make politics a family business in recent years:
Will Straw, son of Jack, will contest Rossendale & Darwen for Labour in next year’s general election. David Prescott, son of John, stood unsuccessfully for selection in the Greenwich and Woolwich constituency in November. There has been speculation that Tony Blair’s eldest son, Euan, might seek a parliamentary seat after he gave up a career in banking to work for a small Coventry charity.
The four young men, were they successful in their ambitions, would be the next wave of political offspring to carry on the family tradition. Hilary Benn, son of Tony, Ben Gummer, son of John, and Nick Hurd, son of Douglas, are all MPs. Anas Sarwar was elected Labour MP for Glasgow Central after his father, Mohammad, stood down from the seat in 2010. Francis Maude, Bernard Jenkin, Andrew Mitchell and several others at Westminster all succeeded a parent to the role. There are plenty of recent historical examples too, from Douglas Hogg, the former Tory agriculture minister, to Estelle Morris, education secretary under Tony Blair, both of whom came from dynasties of MPs.
Just what Parliament needs – another untalented, uninspiring wet rag of a candidate with next to no real life experience (aside from the inevitable internships and think tank jobs that having a politician’s surname makes getting easy) to lower the average IQ of the Commons even further. Stephen Kinnock’s credentials and life experience? Being a research assistant at the European Parliament, a succession of jobs at the British Council, a job for the World Economic Forum and his present role at a consultancy that “helps global businesses go beyond the green basics and reinvent the way they grow”. Make of that last one what you will.
Parliament and politicians are thoroughly despised at this country at the moment. I know they are because I helped to campaign for one in the 2010 general election and many members of the public told me exactly what they thought of the lot of them. The expenses scandal is still fresh in the minds of many, and public fury will surely erupt again when MPs accept their proposed inflation-busting pay raise in the near future. With political engagement at an all time low, is now really the time to be throwing more prime examples of nepotism from the political elites in our faces?
Of course, these shenanigans are not restricted to the Labour Party – though they certainly take the biscuit for nominating Emily Benn to be a candidate back in 2007, when she was still only seventeen years old. There was a time when the runt of the family litter would be encouraged to join the clergy while the oldest son inherited the family estate. I certainly do not propose a return to those days, but surely we can come up with a better career path for the rootless and questionably-talented progeny of famous politicians than our current scheme of packing them back to Westminster before the green benches occupied by their parents have had a chance to grow cold?
And if we must continue to indulge in nepotism in British political life, can we at least try to make it a little more glamorous? In America, they make up for their lack of a royal family by bestowing on their political dynasties a real aura of magic and sparkle, wealth, privilege and scandalous intrigue worthy of a daytime soap opera. The Kennedys, the Bushes, the Clintons – their style of nepotism is no more morally acceptable, but it is a hell of a lot more fun to watch. No television producer is in a hurry to start making Keeping Up With The Kinnocks.
This is the son of a man who fell into the sea while posing for a photo shoot:
Somewhere, lurking well out of sight, are talented potential citizen politicians whose civic instincts we should be tapping to devote five or ten years of their life to serve a term or two in Parliament for the good of the nation.
Stephen Kinnock can sit this one out. The World Economic Forum surely misses his talents.