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Corbyn makes changes to Shadow Cabinet

CorbynYesterday Jeremy Corbyn made some changes to his Shadow Cabinet, although most of the top positions remained unchanged. Here’s a run down of the decisions so far:

  • Diane Abbott has moved from Shadow Health to Shadow Home Secretary, after Andy Burnham resigned during party conference in order to focus on his (very straightforward) bid to become Mayor of Greater Manchester.
  • Clive Lewis has been moved from Shadow Defence to Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, shadowing the mega-department headed up by Greg Clark.
  • Nia Griffiths, who is notably anti-Trident, has been promoted to Defence Secretary, replacing Lewis.
  • Jo Stevens is appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, replacing Paul Flynn, who remains Shadow Leader of the House.
  • Keir Starmer will return and shadow the Tories’ Brexit Department (formally titled Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union), attending Shadow Cabinet.
  • Chief Whip Rosie Winterton has been removed from post, replaced with former Chief Whip Nick Brown, who was removed as Blair’s Chief Whip in 1998, before being brought back by Gordon Brown.
  • Sarah Champion is now Shadow Women and Equalities Minister, and will attend Shadow Cabinet.
  • Dawn Butler has been made Shadow Black and Minority Ethnic Communities Minister, and will also attend Shadow Cabinet.
  • Shami Chakrabarti, now a peer, will become Shadow Attorney General, and join the Shadow Cabinet for the first time.

This also means the number of MP’s “double-jobbing” in the Shadow Cabinet has been reduced. Currently only Dave Anderson (Shadow Scotland, and Shadow Northern Ireland) alongside Barry Gardiner (Shadow Trade, and Shadow Energy and Climate Change) hold two briefs, which may change as more MPs return to serve.

This leaves a couple of questions. Where will Jon Trickett go, now that Clive Lewis has taken over at Business? And who will take over from Diane Abbott in the Shadow Health brief? Those answers may come today.

In terms of diversity and representation in the Shadow Cabinet, for the first time two of the ‘Great Offices of State’ will be held by women, with Emily Thornberry remaining as Foreign Secretary, and Diane Abbott becoming Home Secretary. The front bench also includes ten Labour MPs from the north of England and five black or ethnic minority members.

20 Comments

  1. C MacMackin says:

    Interesting changes to the defense brief. It seems odd that after Clive Lewis makes a speach saying that the Labour Party accepts Trident’s replacement he gets replaced by someone who is anti-Trident. It makes me think there might be some tensions in the shadow cabinet over this.

    1. Shan Morgain says:

      Lewis would have been relieved to move and has said he’s happy about it.

  2. Tony says:

    Clive Lewis has much in his favour but I am glad to see he has been moved from defence because his opposition to Trident replacement has always been shaky.

    Nia Griffith did indeed vote against Trident replacement and her appointment seems to indicate that Corbyn will set out to change Labour’s position on this.

    Good news but I hope Benn, Eagle, Kinnock etc. do not come back.

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      Griffith also deserted her post back in June and joined in the calls for Corbyn to resign. By comparison, Clive Lewis stood solid with Corbyn throughout.

      1. Tony says:

        Agreed.

        She seems to me to have been someone who went along with the coup rather than initiated it. I think she was wrong to do it.

        Why did Labour MPs fall for this?

        I think there was a carefully- crafted attempt to cause panic—talk of an early general election plus some made up ‘evidence’ that Labour would suffer badly in such an election.

  3. Karl Stewart says:

    The appointment of Diane Abbott to shadow Amber Rudd on Home Affairs was an excellent choice.

    I’d puzzled at the switch in the Shadow Defence position though. Clive Lewis made a top-class speech at conference and he was an ideal choice in that role, particularly as an ex-serviceman.

    What a shame he’s been replaced.

  4. Ray says:

    Just checked updates on shaddow cabinet on Labourlist and found all their comment sections below articles seem to have been purged of Corbyn supporting members and replaced by Tory and UKIP trolls. Have I dreamed this or has anyone else noticed. Some of the posters have been using the site for more than a year and as far as I know are all party members

    1. rod says:

      No surprise. The site is owned by Mandelson.

  5. David Jameson says:

    Lewis is obviously the more pragmatic and probably understands that the electorate have red lines of their own. It’s a shame as I think JC could have sold the rest of his programme. We are now unelectable. My only hope now is that he moves the party left of where it’s been over the last couple of decades and introduces democracy and rid the party of the spoilers and gerrymanderers. I’ve voted for JC twice but would have no hesitation voting against him next time.

    1. David J Parry says:

      I hardly think that nuclear disarmament, of all policy issues, is the be-all-and-end-all as regards electability. I actually that policy commitments are (at best) secondary when it comes to determining GE outcomes, and that these are in fact decided by how well things seem to be going under the incumbent governing party (or parties, in the case of a coalition government) and how well-placed the main opposition is to capitalise on any disasters that occur, but that’s beyond the scope of the discussion. Even if you think policy is a crucial deciding factor in elections, it strikes me as odd that you would, more than a quarter of a century after the end of the Cold War, attach a lot of importance to the issue of nuclear weapons as a policy matter. I very doubt that most people nowadays care too much the issue.

      1. David J Parry says:

        *I very much doubt that most people nowadays care too much about the issue.

      2. David J Parry says:

        *I actually think that policy commitments are (at best) secondary when it comes to determining GE outcomes.

  6. Chris says:

    The women and equalities portfolio should be abolished and Labour should take the lead by not shadowing it.

    1. David J Parry says:

      Why?

  7. Giles Wynne says:

    Musical Chairs – Very Musical – Oranges and Lemons ? – But it is not stopping the spitting image.
    If only Jeremy would call a Corbyn People’s Conference to Sing a Song of Sixpence

  8. David Pavett says:

    What do we know about the manner in which the Shadow Cabinet changes were made? I asked my MP about it. She said that she only knew about it through what she had read in the press. The chair of the PLP says he was not spoken to. Just what efforts were made to make the members of the PLP, or at least a majority of them, feel that their views matter?

    P.S. Has the idea of party members electing Shadow Cabinet members been buried? I hope so since organisational proposals don’t come much dafter than that.

    1. C MacMackin says:

      Could you elaborate on why having the members electing part of the shadow cabinet is a bad idea? It had seemed interesting to me, but I’d be interested to know what the problem with it is.

      1. Verity says:

        Whilst in principle elections for posts in the shadow cabinet seems to meet democratic expectations, I suspect that it is practically impossible to produce an optimum outcome. It would be possible if all posts in the shadow cabinet were the same and all contenders were equally capable of performing any of them. Forgetting preferences, some people can easily do many roles; others can do some roles; others can only do a single role. In such a situation we could all vote for the ‘policy experience’ and ‘competencies’ of individuals in general, but for any specific post, I cannot envisage a way in which it could be achieved. With 25 (?+?) quite different roles, the implications for which would be so amazingly difficult to judge. If one individual does not get their first choice, how would we manage to handle the 24 other choices for a second position and so on. In my judgment these decisions can only be made by those with close knowledge of both the roles and the multiple choices and preferences and capabilities of individuals as well as the Party’s general policy direction and policy cohesion.

        Opening up the option for a general membership electorate was in my view a retaliatory measure to counter the proposal for MPs planting opponents to the shadow cabinet. Corbyn could not genuinely consult in such a distrustful atmosphere on account of the tendency of some to queue up at TV and radio studies, saying how really good their mate was, if it was not for Corbyn’s incompetence in seeing it. Similarly he was not at liberty to have any ‘closed elections’, since this has yet to be agreed by the NEC.

        In my opinion, the NEC ‘Away-Day’ will be complete waste, if it is thought there is much scope for change here.

      2. David Pavett says:

        I think the idea shows a failure to understand how complex hierarchical organisations work (or should work) if they are to make sense.

        Direct election to each office in a small organisation (e.g. a LP or TU branch) makes sense where all members can attend an AGM and where all the candidates are known to the members. It makes progressively less sense as the size and depth of the organisation increases.

        The majority of MPs are unknown to the majority of members. The majority even of those who would be put forward fir a Shadow Cabinet election would be unknown to most members. Competing factions would offer their slates and, some MPs would be known through their media presence, others would not.

        The difficulties were already apparent in the left/right slates for the CLP section on the NEC. Most of us voted with little real knowkedge of the candidates or of the process by which they had been selected for our preferred slate. That was for just 6 positions. A Shadow Cabinet may have 30 50 or so members according to the circumstances.

        Having the members elect all the Shadow Cabinet would clearly make no sense. Would it be to specific portfolios or to general membership of the SC (with portfolios subsequently alloted? The first would require knowledge most members don’t have the second would be on the basis of a general political srance (and a slate) on not on the basis of competence wrt a specific portfolio.

        The same problems remain if the members elect only a portion of the SC e.g. a third. There would also be a problem of the members of the SC having a different status on the basis of different electorate.

        The whole idea is typical of the half-baked democratic reasoning which pervades LP discussion and is based on distrust of the party’s elected representatives. I understand that distrust since I wouldn’t trust most Labour MPs to think their way through a complex political problem in anbinformed and critical-minded way. The answer to this problem is not, however, to try to constrain MPs by a little bit of direct democracy. The answer is to raise the level of LP political debate and membership participation in policy formation so that elected representatives thereby have a clear mandate.

        Direct democracy cannot work all the way through the levels of a complex organisation without becoming farcical or manipulative, or both. Democratic control has to be mediated in various ways and that is dependent on having a clear sense of direction, clear policies to move in that direction and representatives elected to campaign for those policies and to implement them when in goverment.

        The present situation in the PLP is unusual and unsustainable. The majority of the PLP is out of step with the membership and with the leader. There are various temporary fudges to deal with situation but they are only temporary. In the longer term we must aim for unity between the party and its MPs. When that is achieved it would make sense to have the SC formed on some sort of collegiate basis between the leaderc and the PLP.

        Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal that a third of the SC could be elected by the members is, in my view, just another back of an envelope idea for which no serious rationale has been offered. I believe that none exists and that its attraction, as Verity suggests, is just that it sounds democratic if you don’t think about it too much.

        I agree with Verity’s other points as well.

  9. john Reid says:

    recall when Left futures said last year that ,corbyn’s views were no different to the SDP in the 80’s well the SDP in the 80’s supported thatcher democractisation of the unions, well, Corbyns said last week he wanted a return to collective bargaining, and that’s not a view the SDP had, as when we tried to reverse thathcers union laws, we lost by landslides

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