Who gains from Milburn move?

After Hutton and Field, coalition comes for Alan Milburn.

So, Alan Milburn may follow Frank Field and John Hutton and work with David Cameron and Nick Clegg's coalition government.

The Sunday Telegraph reports this morning that Milburn will be offered the role of "social mobility tsar", with a remit to examine ways of boosting the chances of underprivileged children. The announcement may be made as early as Wednesday, the paper says.

Last year Milburn was asked to do a similar job for Gordon Brown, but his recommendations were not used by the outgoing government. Milburn has yet to talk about this latest approach.

 

 

 

Policy-wise, Milburn has something to offer, but politically this feels rather toxic. According to the Sunday Telegraph report:

Many will see it as a way of shoring up the Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader who is facing internal trouble in his own party over the severe spending cuts he has backed.

The appointment further highlights tensions in the coalition as the Lib Dems push for more left-wing policies.

On the right, Iain Dale for one is not happy:

First they came for Frank Field. They appointed him "Poverty Czar". I didn't speak up

Then they came for Will Hutton. They appointed him "Work Czar". I didn't speak up.

Then they came for John Hutton. They appointed him "Pensions Czar". I didn't speak up.

Today they came for Alan Milburn. They are about to appoint him "Social Mobility Czar".

Now, I'm going to speak up.

One day they might actually appoint a Conservative. But I'm not holding my breath.

Because by then, it might be a bit late.

Meanwhile, John Prescott has repeated his "collaborators" line that he used when Hutton and Field accepted coalition approaches to work together earlier in the summer. He tweeted:

So after Field & Hutton, Milburn becomes the 3rd collaborator. They collaborated to get Brown OUT. Now collaborating to keep Cameron IN

So, who gains from this move? Cameron may feel he is offering some much-needed support to his deputy, but at what cost? This appointment will surely antagonise the right, which might ask, as Dale does above, whether there isn't the talent "in-house" to do the job.

Indeed, isn't the much-vaunted Iain Duncan Smith able to answer these questions on mobility himself; isn't that what he has spent much of his post-leadership political life doing?

Jon Bernstein, former deputy editor of New Statesman, is a digital strategist and editor. He tweets @Jon_Bernstein. 

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A global marketplace: the internet represents exporting’s biggest opportunity

The advent of the internet age has made the whole world a single marketplace. Selling goods online through digital means offers British businesses huge opportunities for international growth. The UK was one of the earliest adopters of online retail platforms, and UK online sales revenues are growing at around 20 per cent each year, not just driving wider economic growth, but promoting the British brand to an enthusiastic audience.

Global e-commerce turnover grew at a similar rate in 2014-15 to over $2.2trln. The Asia-Pacific region, for example, is embracing e-marketplaces with 28 per cent growth in 2015 to over $1trln of sales. This demonstrates the massive opportunities for UK exporters to sell their goods more easily to the world’s largest consumer markets. My department, the Department for International Trade, is committed to being a leader in promoting these opportunities. We are supporting UK businesses in identifying these markets, and are providing access to services and support to exploit this dramatic growth in digital commerce.

With the UK leading innovation, it is one of the responsibilities of government to demonstrate just what can be done. My department is investing more in digital services to reach and support many more businesses, and last November we launched our new digital trade hub: www.great.gov.uk. Working with partners such as Lloyds Banking Group, the new site will make it easier for UK businesses to access overseas business opportunities and to take those first steps to exporting.

The ‘Selling Online Overseas Tool’ within the hub was launched in collaboration with 37 e-marketplaces including Amazon and Rakuten, who collectively represent over 2bn online consumers across the globe. The first government service of its kind, the tool allows UK exporters to apply to some of the world’s leading overseas e-marketplaces in order to sell their products to customers they otherwise would not have reached. Companies can also access thousands of pounds’ worth of discounts, including waived commission and special marketing packages, created exclusively for Department for International Trade clients and the e-exporting programme team plans to deliver additional online promotions with some of the world’s leading e-marketplaces across priority markets.

We are also working with over 50 private sector partners to promote our Exporting is GREAT campaign, and to support the development and launch of our digital trade platform. The government’s Exporting is GREAT campaign is targeting potential partners across the world as our export trade hub launches in key international markets to open direct export opportunities for UK businesses. Overseas buyers will now be able to access our new ‘Find a Supplier’ service on the website which will match them with exporters across the UK who have created profiles and will be able to meet their needs.

With Lloyds in particular we are pleased that our partnership last year helped over 6,000 UK businesses to start trading overseas, and are proud of our association with the International Trade Portal. Digital marketplaces have revolutionised retail in the UK, and are now connecting consumers across the world. UK businesses need to seize this opportunity to offer their products to potentially billions of buyers and we, along with partners like Lloyds, will do all we can to help them do just that.

Taken from the New Statesman roundtable supplement Going Digital, Going Global: How digital skills can help any business trade internationally

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