Friday, October 08, 2010

Labour Shadow Cabinet: The New Generation?

I don't have time to do a full blog post on this right now, but here are some quick thoughts on Ed Miliband's Shadow Cabinet.

I am not even in the Labour Party and I am fuming that Yvette Cooper didn't get the Shadow Chancellorship. I think that with her knowledge of the welfare system, combined with her experience as Chief Secretary to the Treasury,  she would have mounted a credible challenge to George Osborne. As it is, Ed Miliband has given himself a Shadow Chancellor with no experience of any economic portfolio.  Alan Johnson will at least have as Shadow Chief Secretary a woman who has served as a Treasury Minister for 2 years and shadowed a Treasury job since May in Angela Eagle. Even so, to appoint someone with little economic experience or credibility 2 weeks out from a critical Comprehensive Spending Review is not the best thing he could have done.

I was annoyed to hear Peter Hain say on BBC Breakfast this morning that there were "lots of women" in the Shadow Cabinet. Actually, around half of them are women. That's not lots. It's somewhere around where it should be. I say this because I've noticed myself over the years that, for example, if two or three women take part in a discussion, the perception of some people, usually the more sexist men around,  is that it was dominated by women.

I can't see Caroline Flint doing terribly well against Eric Pickles. She had a spell at Housing and Planning in 2008, but surely you would want someone in that role with extensive experience of local government?

Ed Balls as Home Secretary? I can't see him accepting Kenneth Clarke's eminently sensible justice reforms. He's about as illiberal as they come and he's never given any sign that he gives half a hoot about civil liberties. Miliband might as well have put Blunkett or Charles Clarke back.

Yvette as Foreign Secretary? How very New Generation to have someone who voted for the Iraq War - although in that lot, you'd be hard pushed to find someone who didn't support it.

I think Liam Byrne is there under sufferance - he had a major treasury job, as you might remember, from his "there's no money left" note which will blight the Labour Party for this entire Parliamentary term. You can tell Ed's not thrilled because he's given him a fairly low profile job, shadowing Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude.

And look who's slunk back out of the woodwork after being rejected by Labour MPs - Peter Hain as Shadow Welsh Secretary and Shaun Woodward as Shadow NI Sec.

Not an impressive bunch - and hardly New Generation - more like reheated has beens. Labour MPs didn't give Ed the best hand, but he hasn't played it very well.

And by the way, I do feel for Tom Harris. If I agree with him on anything, I worry about it, but he is effective and I'm disappointed that he and Eric Joyce, who did sterling work on the Digital Economy Bill, didn't make it.

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