You can’t pour a quart into a pint pot

As the inboxes of Labour’s 257 Members of Parliament continue to clog up with subtle (and not so subtle) appeals for support in the forthcoming beauty contest that is the shadow cabinet election, our back-of-a-fag-packet calculations indicate a potentially embarrassing problem for the boys.

Rule changes reserve at least 31.5% of the 19 places (that’s 6 in old money) for women, two more than the last time Labour elected its top team in 1996.

However the current shadow cabinet contains 19 men (excluding Nick Brown as chief whip). When you remove declared retirees like Alastair Darling, Bob Ainsworth and Jack Straw you drop to 16. Then take out one of the leadership contenders so we’re down to 15. But there are no more than 13 places available for those with an Y chromosome.  This is before insurgents from the lower ranks break through. And, of course, there may well be more than six women elected. Sunder Katwala has a good piece on this over at Next Left.

An embarrassing game of political musical chairs beckons if the 15 run as expected:

-          A Miliband

-          Ed Balls

-          Andy Burnham

-          Liam Byrne is said to be marauding

-          Pat McFadden

-          Alan Johnson has thrown his hat in

-          John Denham

-          Sadiq Khan has declared

-          Hilary Benn

-          Douglas Alexander

-          Shaun Woodward

-          Jim Murphy

-          Peter Hain

-          John Healey looks likely

-          Ben Bradshaw

So at least two male former Labour cabinet ministers could face an unceremonious ejection from the shadow cabinet.

Or will some drop out of the process rather than risk denting their reputations?


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4 Responses to “You can’t pour a quart into a pint pot”

  1. kp says:

    Sorry there’s no ….space in the Shadow Cabinet for you Liam Byrne

    …&hopefully the other careerist New Labourites like Douglas Alexander and Jim Murphy too will also get the heave ho!!

  2. Rebecca says:

    Interesting information, but I’m confused about the part where you say “But there are no more than 13 places available for those with an X chromosome.” since everyone has an x chromosome. Females have two. I’m pretty sure you mean a Y chromosome.

  3. Editor says:

    @Rebecca thanks, well spotted

  4. Rich says:

    Two things: Khan isn’t technically in the Shadow Cabinet; he is an attendee. More importantly, the rules don’t really guarantee 6 women will win. A valid ballot must have 6 women listed, but with enough women running, the votes could be spread in such a way as to allow fewer than 6 to get in. By my count, 14 of the 52 candidates are women, so there may well be enough to make it possible to get below 6. I’m too tired to do the calculations, so I’ll leave at that level of vagueness.

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