Senior Labour figures have criticised Alan Milburn for joining the coalition as David Cameron's social mobility Tsar. The former Labour minister will consider how to narrow the gap between rich and poor that widened dramatically under Labour.
Some, including the ex-Deputy PM John, now Lord Prescott, have accused Milburn of political cross dressing. If this is true, then the coalition has clearly stolen a very New Labour idea, since it invented "big tent" politics in the late nineties. Prescott, deemed by most to be a party tribalist was so incensed by Milburn's defection that, when interviewed on Newsnight, he offered to renounce his peerage. Here's what he said:-
"Speaking as a peer of the realm who has expended his hard-earned efforts down in the grass roots (fighting day and night for the common man), I now view the contemplation of this turncoat Milburn joining the Clegg / Cameron Pact as an utterly despicable act and one perpetrated for entirely selfish motivations. In the first place, Alan tried his very damnedest to undermine the government of Gordon Brown that was so successful that it almost won the election in 2010. And now he wants to betray all that Labour politics stands for by cynically donning the vestments of the other side."
"This kind of cross dressing is totally what I consider to be a treacherous betrayal of a forward thinking party such as our own dear Labour party. We are a people which has fought its very hardest for the rights of ordinary men and women to have as much opportunity to get to the top of the scrap heap and indeed don the ermine of the House of Lords if as needs be.
"Yes, it has long been an acceptable practice that a lad from the grass roots of the social scale can accept the reward of the ermine and take his rightful place in the Lords after a long career of trade union activities or other socialist-leaning pursuits, which after all are done solely for the benefit of the working man. Think of Lord Gormley, Lord Chappell and soon to be Lord Scargill, all of whom passionately believe that Parliament is a rightful place for a working class lad to end up nowadays. Indeed I remember my old friend Lord Andropov once saying to me that the great thing about being a socialist in Britain is that you get to drive three jaguars all at once and wear the ermine of Lords, whereas they have only got to make do with Zils and bearskins - I kid you not.
"Now I know that there are those amongst your sneering reactionary elites who might suggest that an elevation such as mine - to the Lords, that is - does indeed smack of hypocrisy. But can I re-iterate and confirm for once and for all that I have as much right to said title as any conservative? Anyhow it's not as if myself and my good wife Pauline have taken on the mantle of royalty and ascended to the throne of England where they wear a different kind of cloth altogether I can tell you. Although God forbid anyone should suggest such an idea to Pauline as I fear that if they did suggest as much, I would hear no end of entreaties towards your humble Lord to accept said royal title.
Dear old Pauline, she's a good lass she is, with a heart of gold and would only ever want the best for yours truly. But I could not accept that it would be in any way progressive to go around with an hoity-toity title such as Prince John of Prescott. No, at least not in today's progressive Labour party at least it wouldn't be.
"Anyway, notwithstanding Pauline's said social aspirations, one thing you can say about her is that at least she's no flaming turncoat like that collaborator and traitor to the working classes, Alan Milburn, who I consider to be beyond repair."