Ed Miliband appoints Alan Johnson as Shadow Chancellor – and Johnson tells Channel 4 News that Labour will oppose changes to child benefit and the erosion of “the precious principle of universality”.
In an interview with tonight’s Channel 4 News, the newly appointed Shadow Chancellor tells Channel 4 News he feels the Coalition’s plans to cut child benefits for higher-rate taxpayers are “absolutely wrong”.
“That precious principle of universality which has underpinned the welfare state – it’s wrong to interfere with that and there is an alternative,” he said.
“George Osborne made the argument that taxpayers on £20,000 a year shouldn’t be cross subsidising these payments for rich people. Well, you can say that about the state pension, you can say that about the winter fuel allowance and in the end you lose the whole principle of universality. And to suggest there’s an alternative to this and it’s unavoidable is plain wrong.”
Mr Johnson went on to say: “It’s a very important principle of the welfare state, is universality, and I think you interfere with it at your peril. You never say never in these situations, but I certainly oppose – and Ed Miliband and the Shadow Cabinet oppose – what the Conservatives proposed last week, as do many Conservatives.”
Miliband’s leadership rival, Ed Balls, moves in to replace Johnson in the Home Office brief, while his wife Yvette Cooper – who was widely tipped to take over the Shadow Chancellor role after getting the most votes in the Shadow Cabinet election – takes over from David Miliband as Shadow Foreign Secretary. She also maintains her role as Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities.
Andy Burnham trades his Health role to take over from Ed Balls as Shadow Education Secretary and adds responsibility for elections to his portfolio.
Ed Miliband’s campaign coordinator, Sadiq Khan is rewarded with the Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Justice Secretary role, taking over from Jack Straw after he stepped down from frontline politics.
Making Alan Johnson shadow chancellor was both unexpected and inspired, writes Lance Price. The economy is far and away the biggest political issue and will be for a long time to come. Johnson's populist touch and his easy way with words will contrast very well with George Osborne.
Alan Johnson sounds like a man of the people because he is one. It will make Osborne look even more like a member of a privileged elite than he does already. It's not class war to set an ex-postman against a millionaire ex-public schoolboy but Johnson will look the part when it comes to standing up for the concerns of ordinary families as the cuts bite.
Among the other Cabinet veterans, Douglas Alexander takes over the Work and Pensions portfolio, John Denham takes over as Shadow Business Secretary, David Miliband’s campaign coordinator Jim Murphy take Defence, and Hilary Benn takes over as Shadow Leader of the Commons.
Tessa Jowell moves across to be Shadow Minister for the Olympics – a role she previously held in the Labour Cabinet, while Liam Byrne takes over her current role as Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office.
Who Knows Who - and just how well - in the Shadow Cabinet
Harriet Harman, as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, already has a place in the Cabinet, but will add Shadow International Development Secretary to her title, while Rosie Winterton was elected to be Chief Whip separately, taking over from Nick Browne who Ed Miliband asked to step down.
Peter Hain and Shaun Woodward keep their roles as the Shadow Secretaries for Wales and Northern Ireland despite failing to get enough votes to win another Cabinet post in the election.
Baroness Scotland stays on as Shadow Attorney-General.
Of the new entrants to Labour’s cabinet, Meg Hillier takes over Ed Miliband’s role as Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Maria Eagle takes over as Shadow Transport Secretary while her twin sister Angela takes the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury role.
Mary Creagh takes over from Hilary Benn as Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, while Ann McKechin takes the Scotland portfolio over from Jim Murphy.
Ivan Lewis will take over as Shadow Culture Secretary from Ben Bradshaw, who failed to get enough votes in the Shadow Cabinet election to take up a place.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon as Shadow Leader of the House of Lords and Lord Bassam of Brighton as Lords Chief Whip complete the line-up.