Earlier this week Mark Ferguson of LabourList speculated that there might be a reshuffle of the shadow cabinet shortly. This may well be a good thing, but would depend on which changes were made.
At present, of the full members of the Shadow Cabinet 16 are men and 10 are women. It is time at least fifty per cent of shadow cabinet are women, and rejection of the urgency of that ambition on the basis that members should be appointed on merit is nonsense. The best of the front bench outside the shadow cabinet are women (such as Lisa Nandy on the left, Stella Creasy on the right) and the weakest performers in the current shadow cabinet are men.
It is also time Ed Miliband readjusted the political spread of the shadow cabinet, overcoming the entire exclusion of the left under New Labour. It is time Diane Abbott was promoted to the Shadow Cabinet. She now commands growing respect outside the left of the party, evidenced by positive reviews on appearances like the BBC’s Question Time, where she appeared alongside Michael Heseltine and Vince Cable last week.
The obvious position for Diane is Shadow Leader of the House, with a more general remit to use her formidable media presence as a spokesperson for the party. Angela Eagle, the present Shadow Leader of the House could then shadow a substantial spending department; she should replace the lacklustre Stephen Twigg as Shadow Education Secretary.
The most unpopular member of the Shadow Cabinet is obviously Liam Byrne, who was responsible in 2010 for leaving the immature and economically illiterate note at the treasury about there being ‘no money left’, which the government continues to take advantage of. He should replaced by somebody well qualified. There is probably no one better than Kate Green.
Karen Buck can be appointed Shadow Communities Secretary allowing Hilary Benn to replace the lightweight Douglas Alexander as Shadow Foreign Secretary. Finally, boosting our reputation on international issues I’d replace MPs who voted for the Iraq War (Jim Murphy and Ivan Lewis), and appoint Cathy Jamieson Shadow Defence Secretary and Helen Goodman Shadow International Development Secretary.
These suggestions amount to a modest reshuffle, but it would result in a stronger shadow cabinet in terms of presentational talent, make for a more balanced political spread and ensure women comprise at least half the shadow cabinet, as they should.