Cabinet reshuffle – an outright disaster for Britain

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I admit to being depressed by Gordon Brown's cabinet reshuffle. It's not the personalities. I find it quite possible to disagree with people and get on with them. It's what those people represent that worries me.

Mandelson has been a champion of neo-liberalism, a bastion of free trade, an oppressor of the rights of developing countries. And he's New Labour. And an unashamed apologist for wealth, to which he has always very nakedly aspired.

Paul Myners may have been chair of the Guardian Media Group, but he also has a history in finance that suggests he is wholly unsuited for the task now given to him. Take, for example, his involvement in GLG partners, dedicated as it is in 'private wealth management' which has lead it into the tackier end of financial dealing. Take also his involvement with the Singapore sovereign wealth fund. Singapore is one of the most abusive tax havens in the world. This is another man whose main task will be to defend the status quo for the advantage of those with wealth, of whom he is one.

The new economic council has as prominent members the chairs of Lloyds TSB and Barclays, both of whom you can guarantee will be asking for the City to be rebuilt as it was. And it also has the Chair of Vodafone gracing the table, a company festooned in tax disputes around the world; one too that I think may be considering leaving the UK for tax purposes.

These are not the people to deliver the change that is needed now. They are, as someone from HM Treasury said we need to me recently, 'the people who will rebuild Anglo Axon capitalism, because it's all we've got'.

I happen to think that a fair summary of Treasury thinking. And it will be a disaster. The Anglo Saxon model of capitalism has been shown not to work. It will never work again. And yet Labour is clearly trying to revive it. If that is the policy then they will deserve to lose the next election, even if that will leave the Tories to make an even worse job of it.

Absolutely anyone with any sense will realise that this is the moment for radical change. Read Nick Cohen today. Read Will Hutton today in the Observer. And yet Brown has chosen to stay put, gripped by fear.

His choice will, I think have long term consequence. If the Conservatives win the next election then Labour will collapse. That will be because it will implode under the burden of its debts: it will go bankrupt. From the ashes one of two things could happen. The Lib Dems might become the opposition, but Nick Clegg is unfortunately taking them in the wrong direction right now to achieve that. Alternatively we will have a new left of centre party in the UK built around something like Compass. I have to say that for the sake of democracy in the UK that might be the best thing that might happen because right now at the next election the electorate will be given no real choice at all that will be critical of the neo-liberal agenda, and that is a travesty for democracy. And it's why Brown has made a disastrous choice right now for himself, for Labour and for this country.