By Paul Goodman
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Five straws in the wind:
- Ed Balls's joint Guardian article on Sunday with Peter Mandelson about Europe policy, stressing an active European Central Bank, banking recapitalisation, more infrastucture spending and greater fiscal union. That these one-time old enemies teamed up in this way is significant.
- Lord Mandelson's earlier though recent support in principle for an EU-related referendum.
- Balls's own support this week for such a referendum, expressed in almost identical terms.
- Tony Blair's wish to re-engage with British politics.
- The opportunities that the forthcoming Shadow Cabinet reshuffle presents to heal relations between Labour's differents wings (if Ed Miliband doesn't mess it up).
For all the divisions of the Blair/Brown years and the Miliband/Miliband leadership election, Labour is the natural party of the British establishment: that's to say, of the public sector elites – the Universities, the arts, the top layer of the legal profession (or at least of its human rights wing) – and the state broadcaster, plus the bigger churches (or much of their leadership).
No wonder it is showing signs of a very establishment instinct for unity. The paralysing effect of that leadership election – in which Labour members and MPs voted for the other Miliband – are beginning to fade. As I pointed out recently, Mr Miliband has clearly clocked that David Cameron is badly exposed on Europe, and is being pushed hard to exploit this weakness.