Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Happiness Agenda: Now Milburn jumps on the bandwagon

I took David Cameron's money can't buy happiness speech as the main subject for my latest column and Podcast, after Cameron appeared to take up my earlier suggestion that the party which most closely manages to identify itself with this agenda will win the next election.

"Bit by bit, Mr Cameron is cleverly positioning himself as the man who – in contrast to the dour Scotsman - can put a smile on Britain’s face."

But wait. It now emerges that someone else whose name has frequently been mentioned in connection with Number 10 Downing Street is making a big pitch for exactly the same territory.

Step forward Alan Milburn, who like Cameron, is no friend of the Chancellor and may conceivably be entertaining thoughts of running against him in a contested election sometime soon.

The really interesting thing about Milburn's piece in this week's Sunday Times News Review is that although it starts off as a paean to family life and spending more time with the kids, the more your read on the more it starts to come across like a personal manifesto for the future.

Take this for example:

"I suppose most of us have always known in our hearts that neither power nor money can buy happiness.....But while money alone won’t make us happy, tackling poverty alleviates misery. The happiest societies tend to be the most equal ones. And since unemployment — alongside family breakdown and bad health — makes the biggest contribution to unhappiness, creating paid employment is good news for the individual as well as for the economy."

Furthermore, although he several times insists he made the right decision in resigning twice from the Cabinet, not once in the piece does he rule out another return to the frontline.

Regular visitors know my views about Milburn's chances - I think they are very slight in view of his relative lack of standing with Labour MPs and the unions compared to Mr Brown and other potential rivals such as Alan Johnson.

But I wonder whether Milburn might just be craftily positioning himself as the man who can beat Mr touchy-feely Cameron at his own game?

1 comment:

The Daily Pundit said...

Too many unanswered questions about Mr Milburn, Paul. Ongoing investigations as it were.