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A Shadow Cabinet reshuffle worth having

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.


  1. Thom Jones says:

    “These suggestions amount to a modest reshuffle.” By modest do you mean sacking half of the Shadow Cabinet and make it into the weakest Cabinet since the 70s?

    The manifesto would look interesting…

  2. Neil says:

    I do not know where to begin with how much of a load of ******* this is. Honestly, I am at a loss.

  3. Alex says:

    @Thom Jones:
    How would getting rid of Byrne/Twigg (unable to attack the coalition, often a liability) and replacing them with able people like Nandy and Creasy make a weak shadow cabinet?

  4. Tom Blackburn says:

    @Alex: agreed. Not sure how anyone who’s seen Twigg and Byrne in ‘action’ could argue that ditching them would make the shadow cabinet weaker. Twigg in particular is a complete non-entity.

  5. John P reid says:

    I agree with neil this was just wrote so you can suggest getting rid of Byrne and Twigg as if Miliband has even pretended he doesn’t really want them there.

  6. Tom Blackburn says:

    As far as I can see Twigg has absolutely nothing to offer. I’m struggling to remember a single thing he’s done in his time as shadow education sec. Gove’s charging around wreaking all sorts of havoc in education and Labour is offering precisely zero by way of a response.

    Twigg is just about the least suitable candidate to be shadowing Gove. I’m not just saying that purely because he’s a Blairite – although admittedly that doesn’t help his cause – he’s just been lamentably bad in the role. He needs to be moved on, pronto.

  7. Lyra Kätz says:

    Calling Byrne economically illiterate is a kind and generous, and the best that can be said of Twigg is that he’s affable.

    Yes, of course Dianne Abbott should be in the Shadow Cabinet – however, I would put her in charge of a major department. I think that she could handle Education. The department is in turmoil at the moment (as ever) and I think that Dianne has the ability to draw on her knowledge and experience to develop forward looking policies.

    Ain’t gonna happen, though. I really don’t see Ed Miliband giving Dianne a job where she might prove that she’s – shock, horror! – more competent than most of the Blairite men.

    Hope I’m wrong.

  8. John P reid says:

    Lyra is this a joke, Diane knows about education, she sends her kids to private school,s when It’s pointed out that she’s a hypocrite for knocking tories that have done the same, she defends herself by saying everyone else is a racist,

    how could abbott be competetent, she gets her facts wrong on everything and hasn’t a clue about most law or issues on policy.

  9. Lyra Kätz says:

    Wow, a black mother sends her son to a private school rather than to a school in Hackney (which at the time, I recall, had a reputation for failing black, male students). So hang her. Diane described her decision as indefensible at the time as I recall. I faced a similar dilemma and moved out of London. Failing schools in the inner city are a major problem and frankly, I’d quite like someone who had direct experience of the issues in the system developing policy.

    I don’t agree with Diane Abbott on everything – there’s a lot I don’t agree with her on. Give me an intelligent, articulate woman over Byrne or Twigg any day though. I agree with you that Miliband shows no signs of not wanting them there, though.

  10. John P reid says:

    I’d have an intelligent articulate person too, Shame Abbott isn’t it, and i dont want her shot, but for her view to be called indefensible seems odd as her defence was to call people racist, and you want her in charge of education, although i dont consider byrne or Twigg to be unintelligent either, maybe Abbott should have followed your lead and left hackney too

  11. steve Dudley says:

    Stephen Twigg is not up to the job fullstop we need a big hitter in that department someone with a good media presence too but im not sure if there is anyone in the shadow cabinet who fits the bill. i would like to see frank field return and Alister Darling these people have a wealth of experience to compliment the new younger stars in the shadow cabinet.

  12. Matty says:

    “her defence was to call people racist”
    I think this only happened on planet reid.

  13. John p Reid says:

    No Matty ,she said in 87 all white people are racist, maybe on planet Matty you can ignore the facts

  14. Matty says:

    You said she defended herself against charges of Tory hypocrisy on sending her son to private school by saying her critics were racist. Her decision on her son’s education was taken in 2003, so bringing up a quote supposedly from 1987 (source?) does not back up your statement.

  15. John P Reid says:

    it was in this week she accused Andrew neil, or being racist, but i havent git a link to that, it was you suggested ,i made it up

  16. Matty says:

    No she didn’t John, why can’t you just admit you’re wrong?

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