I said earlier on Coffee House that who Demos appointed as their new director would give us a sense of where the intellectual energy is on the left and the news that they have appointed Richard Reeves shows that the liberal-left is not yet ready to cede the intellectual battlefield. It also illustrates that even on the left the intellectual conversation has moved passed Gordon Brown.
Reeves co-wrote with Phil Collins the recent Prospect essay Liberalise or Die that caused such a stir; Brownite loyalists demanded that James Purnell stop using Phil Collins as a speechwriter after it appeared. The piece argued that Labour was failing to grasp that the key argument in politics today is “how to ensure people are in control of their own lives” and that “For New Labour to survive, it must become new liberal.” It will be fascinating to see how Reeves advances this agenda at Demos.
Reeves has written an acclaimed biography of John Stuart-Mill and is an expert on the well-being agenda. Previously, he was an adviser to Frank Field when he was welfare reform minister. If Reeves in his new role can help the liberal-left think the unthinkable, he will give the world of ideas a huge boost.