Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Spotlight
  2. Elections
12 April 2010

Labour manifesto exclusive: victory for Number Ten over Cabinet

Policy Unit insiders battled for radical public service reform ++ Plus update: Miliband's camp denia

By James Macintyre

The key public service reform element of the Labour party manifesto launched today was the result of a behind-the-scenes tug of war between Ten Downing Street and Government departments, has learned.

The presence in the ten-chapter document of plans for enhanced accountability in schools, hospitals and the police represents a significant victory for key insiders inside the Number Ten Policy Unit. can name those insiders as Nick Pearce, the head of the Unit, Greg Beales, who advises on health, Gavin Kelly, Gordon Brown’s deputy chief of staff and Patrick Diamond who has been working with Ed Miliband on the manifesto.

Miliband himself is singled out for praise by insiders, who say that together the team saw off more conservative plans from the Departments of Health and Education, led by Andy Burnham and Ed Balls respectively, and the Home Office, headed up by Alan Johnson.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Strategists say that Gordon Brown himself has in recent weeks become a strong “convert” to a “radical” agenda of public service reform — more so than some of his ministerial colleagues, it is claimed.

Content from our partners
“I learn something new on every trip"
How data can help revive our high streets in the age of online shopping
Why digital inclusion is a vital piece of levelling up

One insider said that with the radical plans in place, the Tories have been outflanked. “[Shadow schools secretary Michael] Gove’s policy of creating new schools within a limited budget must mean taking money away from other schools. We are now saying that there will be a machanism to get rid of bad school leadership instead.”

The source added: “This is a victory for the Number Ten Policy Unit over complacency. Along with Ed Miliband, they have done really well. Gordon is onside.”

UPDATE: A source close to Ed Miliband has just rung to emphatically deny that Cabinet ministers were anything other than completewly onside for the manifesto commitments. I should state here that the story above did not come from anyone in the Ed Miliband camp.