Bring back the big beasts – young, arrogant and ignorant politicos are to blame for modern Britain’s soulless politics, and Labour’s resounding general election defeat
When Ed Miliband stood in a field last month and unveiled his universally mocked policy monolith – swiftly renamed the EdStone by political journalists who couldn’t quite believe their luck – the brains behind the doomed operation was a young whippersnapper named Torsten Henricson-Bell, a 32-year old special advisor and Oxford grad described by one MP as being “totally devoid of any politics”.
A few days later, when the #EdStone fiasco forced the Labour Party into full damage control mode, it was 40-year old campaign manager and Miliband acolyte Lucy Powell – another politico without a day’s real-world work experience to her name – who managed to make things even worse by suggesting that Ed Miliband shouldn’t actually be expected to keep the vague pledges he had taken the effort of carving into tablet form.
The rise of these people is hardly limited to the Labour Party. A former policy unit apparatchik and ministerial bag carrier from the John Major administration now sits in Number 10 Downing Street, re-elected to serve a second term as Prime Minister having transformed the Conservative Party into an ideologically rootless but effective vote-winning machine. The difference between David Cameron and Torsten Henricson-Bell is only one of competence, not of kind.
Nearly a month after the ideologically barren, soul-sappingly irrelevant general election – and Labour’s abject defeat at the hands of David Cameron’s Coke Zero Conservatives – it is time to face facts: the Bright Young Things of British politics, the embryonic career politicians shimmying up the greasy pole in search of a safe Westminster seat courtesy of their party machines, are the symptom, not the cure, of Britain’s political ills.