Tara Hamilton-Miller: Is it smart to sign up the enemy?

The Prime Minister has decided to sort out the problems of social mobility by asking one of the men who spent nearly 13 years creating the mess back into the political arena to ponder it.

Tara Hamilton-Miller
Tara Hamilton-Miller

Alan Milburn is an odd choice - was Cameron drunk when he phoned him; did he lose a bet? There are problems with social mobility but Milburn is not the man to solve them. At best he looks like one of your dad's friend's whom you fancied in 1988; at worst, a Geordie spiv who sells you knock-off Calvin Klein thongs out of the back of his Capri.

There is no evidence Milburn was effective as a minister. A Labour friend describes him as 'second rank and unimpressive, certainly not a deep thinker'.

I am in favour of Frank Field, also invited into the fold. At least he is widely considered to be smart and fair. Like Vince Cable, but with brains.

What does Cameron get out of Milburn and is it worth it? Is it having the baddie back, or is he giving the evil one a chance, a bit like Woody in Toy Story? The fact is nearly 30 Tory MPs don't have a position because of the coalition and Cameron's hand-picked advisers.

I still fail to understand the PM's unfathomable tactics. If you are going to nab the so-called cream of the opposition, Milburn wouldn't be it. The hot ticket would have been a Miliband; James Purnell might have been interesting.

One predictable aspect of the new social mobility 'tzar' is the hypocrisy of 'Lord' Prescott's disgust, branding Milburn a 'collaborator'. This from a man who mocked anyone who accepted a Lordship until of course it was his turn for ermine.

If this is a coup for Cameron, it is at the expense of his party, many of whom are bored of him putting wild cards together. This is a Government, not the Big Brother house. Just because you have hit it off with Nick, it doesn't mean every random will be like a brother to you.

Cameron can line up his new Lib Dem/Labour friends like shields, as protection and something to point the finger at when times get tough. I can't decide whether this is will end up terribly clever or a really bad move.

- Tara Hamilton-Miller is a political adviser and formerly worked for the Conservative Party press team

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