MATTHEW TAYLOR’S appointment to lead the review into modern employment practices was seen by some as a coup. He is, after all, a Labour man.
The only trouble is, he hails from a Labour tradition totally at odds with the party’s current leadership.
Like a number of other New Labour grandees, Taylor comes from radical roots. His father, Laurie Taylor, is a familiar voice on Radio 4 as middle England’s favourite sociologist.
Taylor Junior, born 1960, was educated privately at the Emanuel School in Battersea — followed by degrees at Southampton and Warwick. He established a reputation as a Labour leftwinger and a supporter of Tony Benn.
He became a county councillor in Warwickshire, and stood unsuccessfully for Parliament in 1992. Shortly after he moved to Labour’s Millbank HQ — where he played a key role in the 1997 general election campaign as policy director.
Having left Labour HQ after a reportedly fractious relationship with general secretary Margaret McDonagh, Taylor became director of the centre-left Institute for Public Policy Research.
One fellow party staffer recalls that Taylor returned to the fold during the 2001 election campaign.
After a think tank published a report predicting a “big marketisation and choice agenda in the health service,” Taylor was seen “high-fiving” colleagues, the insider says.
In 2003 Taylor replaced David Miliband as head of the Downing Street Policy Unit.
“All the word in the street was that [Miliband] was unhappy with direction of Number 10,” Taylor’s colleague said. “It was put around [Miliband] wasn’t a true believer.
“When Taylor took over that was when the real Milburn agenda came in,” they add, referring to the pro-marketisation former health secretary.
“Listening to him this morning took me back to when you used to listen to Labour ministers on the radio, and they’d just be triangulating to death.”