28 Sep 2010

Stepping into the Shadows

One of my favourite moments on the conference circuit last night was watching as a Labour MP trawled The Guardian party for supporters for her Shadow Cabinet bid. She approached one crusty notherner she recognised from the Commons and asked for his vote. “You haven’t spoken to me in years,” he snapped back. “And in case you hadn’t noticed, I stood down at the last election anyway.”

As for those Shadow Cabinet elections, the consensus last night seemed to be that the following women MPs should be able to get the 6 places reserved for women MPs: Yvette Cooper, Rosie Winterton, Angela Eagle, Tessa Jowell .. and perhaps Caroline Flint, Diane Abbott?

Diane just used a speech to Conference to renew her bid for a place, promising she would be collegiate but also “the same Diane Abbott you all know.” Her leadership bid attracted only 7 first preference votes amongst her fellow MPs but a shadow job is different from the leadership and her fortunes, as others, will depend on what message goes out from the new leadership about who Ed wants.

Ed’s team will be very mindful of who they should bring on board from David’s team to unite the party. So for the men the tips seem to be Andy Burnham and Ed Balls at the top (David Miliband too, of course, if he were to go for it), Alan Johnson, Douglas Alexander, Jim Murphy, Pat McFadden, Liam Byrne, Sadiq Khan, Peter Hain, John Denham, John Healey and Hilary Benn.

The New Statesman has a ful llist of declared candidates here:


And here’s an old joke from Alan Johnson’s speech, just delivered, reminding you how he cheers up Labour and is guaranteed a place. He just said the Shadow Cabinet had clubbed together to get Jack Straw a present to mark his retirement from the front bench – an express chair lift that gets you upstairs before you’ve forgotten what you went there for.

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