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Labour’s shadow cabinet elections

Letters from would be shadow cabinet members are dropping into parliamentary inboxes at quite a rate. If you want to see them (which even MPs with votes don’t),  they’re posted at Labour Uncut but here’s a summary of what we think will be the composition of the new Shadow Cabinet:

A Miliband as Leader

Harriet Harman restored to Deputy Leader with an enhanced reputation having been widely seen as having done a good job in the inter-regnum. The Left (and more) will recognise her courage in ensuring Dianne Abbott was on the ballot paper and she has succeeded in ensuring that women are not marginalised in the way they (including Harriet herself) were under Gordon Brown’s leadership and in the election campaign in particular.

They will be joined by the following:

Current members

Alistair Darling and Jack Straw are not standing again and nor is Bob Ainsworth (who wouldn’t have been elected if he had stood).

Alan Johnson will stand and will surely be elected, in the role of elder statesman. Although he is clearly on the right of the party, his experience as a former union leader may yet prove to be an asset.

The Other Miliband will be elected if he stands but there is speculation about if David would.

Ed Balls will certainly be elected. He has shone in opposing Gove and the Tories, his campaign performance has been excellent in spite of the electoral outcome and his appointment as shadow chancellor is more than justified.

Andy Burnham will certainly be elected based on a good showing in the Leadership election – a traditional Labour right-winger with whom the Left can live.

Yvette Cooper is the woman most certain to be elected

John Denham will almost certainly be elected. His opposition to the Iraq war will bring votes on the Left but he retain’s support across the spectrum.

Hilary Benn, Ben Bradshaw, Jim Murphy and Douglas Alexander all seem likely to be elected, Peter Hain and Liam Byrne perhaps a bit less so:  Hain, now being in his 60s, will (however harshly) be seen by some as too old and, in spite of his efforts, he hasn’t succeeded in redefining a constituency on the soft left for himself. Byrne (whose canvassing efforts have been noted) is still lambasted for the “witty” letter he left his successor saying “there’s no money left”. Shaun Woodward will struggle to survive if they stand and Tessa Jowell would have done so if it had not been for the requirement to vote for at least six women.

Pat McFadden is acting up to replace Lord Mandelson. He can’t be certain to be elected. He certainly would be a poor choice to oppose Vince Cable given his record on Royal Mail: although he claims that “this government has a very different solution to that (previously) advocated by Labour“, that will fail convince most Labour MPs let alone the public.

Of the others who have been acting up since the election, Sadiq Khan (replacing Lord Adonis at Transport) and Rosie Winterton (replacing Harriet Harman as Shadow Leader of the House and Minister for Women) stand a good chance as does John Healey (Housing) who attends Shadow Cabinet but is, strictly speaking, not a member.

The Chief Whip is separately elected, for the first time, and is likely to remain Nick Brown.

The Rest

The male wannabes are just too numerous to talk about. It’s also worth noting that the small chance of getting in now will be even smaller next time if, as seems likely, the proportion of women is increased further before the next election in two years: although the parliamentary party settled on a quota of 31.5% women, there was in fact a majority (of 139 to 107) for at least 40%. It was only (by the vagaries of AV voting) because the 40% option went out first that 31.5% won.

The six (or more) women may also include Angela Eagle, Maria Eagle, Caroline Flint, Mary Creagh, Diane Abbott (the only Campaign Group member who stands a chance of election).

Fortunately, there is no provision for members of the House of Lords to be elected to the Shadow Cabinet, so there is little chance of Lord Mandelson getting the job, not that this has prevented it being suggested by John Woodcock MP . Fortunately, under the parliamentary Labour Party rules (as quoted here), the name of anyone appointed to the front bench should be submitted to the whole parliamentary party for approval. That rule may not have been implemented before, but you can be sure that there would be pressure to do so if the Dark Lord were appointed.

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