Pride in Labour's present and hope for its future
I'm less interested in some self-important retired civil servant's silly comparisons of Gordon Brown with Uncle Joe (though enjoying the fun the cartoonists are having with it) than in what the allegedly "stalinist" (which usually in British political abuse means well-organised or good at winning, rather than "supporter of a dictator who was responsible for 30m deaths and the Gulag" which is what it should mean) Mr Brown is acheiving through the way Lord Turnbull alleges he conducts government business.
According to most of today's papers, he is going to announce an extra £1 billion to tackle child poverty in the Budget today. The Guardian says this will lift 200,000 children out of poverty and he will also make "an announcement that education will be the biggest winner from this year's spending review, with extra resources earmarked over the three years from 2008 to start bridging the gap on spending per pupil between state and private schools."
The Guardian also says that "After nearly doubling in the 18 years of Conservative rule between 1979 and 1997, the number of children living below the poverty line had fallen by 700,000 by 2004-05, the last year for which figures are available. A further fall is expected when the data for 2005-06 is announced this month."
This in itself - forget everything else we have achieved - justifies re-electing Labour at the next General Election. I have a great deal of difficulty understanding people allegedly on the "left" who can't summon up enthusiasm - or in some cases are actively hostile to - a government which is taking this kind of action on child poverty and education. I can only assume that there own experience of these issues is limited.
As to the future, there was an interesting piece in the online version of yesterday's Guardian saying Blair was urging Gordon Brown to promote seven young Ministers - some Brownite, some Blairite, to the Cabinet. The names are actually similar to those tipped in a Sunday Telegraph article last year as being admired by Brown too: Liam Byrne, Yvette Cooper, Ed Miliband, Jim Purnell, Jim Murphy, Pat McFadden and Caroline Flint.
There are actually more young Ministers (and backbenchers) than that who are serious talents for the future, but that list is a good start.
They all have sensible - but radical - politics, they are all bright and have proved themselves in office, and they are all basically normal people who the electorate can identify with.
This stands in sharp contrast to the Old Etonian clique around David Cameron profiled today.
The fact that after 10 years in power we have renewed ourself in office and have a coming generation of highly electable politicians who (in contrast to the tail end of previous Labour governments) don't look knackered by years in office and are coming up with fresh policy ideas, has got to be good news.
Even better was that on close reading of the article most of the ideas Blair was praising them for coming up with about "public service reform" aren't the simplistic marketisation solutions I was worried were meant by that phrase but are more imaginative ideas that are compatible with keeping public services universal and public.