On my way to Nottingham for a conference on emotional well being, I find myself sharing the train with half the Cabinet. Given how London-centric most of the national media are, many people won’t know that one of Gordon Brown’s political innovations has been regularly to hold Cabinet meetings outside of London.
So, today, ministers are spending the morning visiting all kinds of projects around the East Midlands, before a public engagement event at lunchtime, followed by the Cabinet meeting in Nottingham in the afternoon. Gordon Brown, for example, will be visiting a family intervention centre to reinforce Labour’s commitment to intervening with problem families.
According to the No 10 insider I was chatting to on the train, these cabinet visits go down a storm in the local and regional press and are seen as a genuine attempt to break out of Westminster and Whitehall and connect with the rest of Britain. For all of us who crave a more positive conversation between elected politicians and the public, this must be a good thing.
As I have written before, I hope an incoming Conservative government doesn’t assume that everything it inherits is bad (a mistake some Labour cabinet ministers made in 1997) – it would surely be a good thing if these regional cabinets continued.