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?