Frank Field is one of a handful of Labour MPs I pay attention to, others being Gisela Stuart (spoke very eloquently on Europe earlier this year), John McFall (Labour Chair of Treasury Committee who took no prisoners over the Northern Rock collapse) and the late Gwyneth Dunwoody. He has been the key Labour MP pressing for compensation over the 10p band and he is the only reason open revolt hasn’t occurred, having held back the angry MPs before the local elections from ripping down the doors at 10 Downing Street. He talks a lot of sense and honestly believed Brown was being genuine about compensation and has rightly spoken out against any breach of the promise. If Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling fail to find adequate compensation, a case could be made for a vote of no confidence, this issue being at the heart of Labour thinking.
So what does Brown do? Try to ensure that this compensation is as comprehensive and reaches as many people as possible and to keep in touch with MPs to ensure that they do not lose faith, or alternatively send out an underling to attack Frank Field as a loner and to doubt whether his “intentions were honourable” regarding the campaign? Yes readers, he went for option number 2 as Children, Schools and Families Secretary Ed Balls and Communities Secretary Hazel Blears attacked Frank Field. Normally such attacks by them pass without trouble, but this attack could lead to serious problems because Frank Field is respected by backbenchers. Calling Frank Field a loner over an issue like compensation for those losing out from the abolition of 10p band could bounce back badly since he isn’t the only one unhappy on the issue. Discipline in the Labour Party cannot and must not be established through ganging up on those with differing views. That leads to dictatorship of the Party and to certain defeat at the next General Election, should Brown make it. It’ll keep Labour out of Government for over a decade. Frank Field is a good man and doesnt deserve this treatment.
UPDATE: This morning Alistair Darling briefed the Cabinet on some of the compensation plans. As Ive said before, I am very sceptical that the compensation offered wouold be good enough. Itll lead to more people joining the Governments welfare state and having to go to HMRC like Oliver Twist.