Shadow cabinet league: Sadiq Khan strides ahead

by Alan Smithee

Last month for Labour was defined by two events: the Special Conference and the Budget. The former was a triumph for Ed and the latter a disappointment.  This is the story of his leadership – for every positive leap, a stumble follows. It has been much the same for his shadow cabinet colleagues, a month of minor triumph and minor disappointment but not much more.

As he did in the London Marathon, Sadiq Khan strides far ahead of his colleagues.

His speech on prison reform did not please the hang ‘em and flog ‘em brigade but sketched out a liberal-pragmatic path that fits with Khan’s other pronouncements.

March was another solid month for Chris Leslie. His strong performance on rebutting government claims surrounding the budget showed his continued importance to the shadow treasury team.

For Hilary Benn, the month of March was marked by the death of his father. As a result, it seems glib to comment on his shadow cabinet activity, other than to note his rise continues with a step up to third from fifth.

It was a relatively quiet month for Caroline Flint on the media front, counterbalanced by her good usage of written questions. Her questions, as per usual, focussed mainly on energy but she also found time this month to probe on climate change too.

Yvette Cooper impressed last month with a considered speech at Demos on the balance of security and liberty in the wake of the Snowden revelations. Her extra-Parliamentary work underpins her position near the top of the table; she rarely tables questions to ministers.

Rounding off the top six is Rachel Reeves. As in previous months, Reeves has continued to score points against IDS over the trials and tribulations of universal credit. She also struck a good balance between positivity over improving labour market statistics and highlighting the lack of quality jobs and issues with youth unemployment.

Outside the top six, there has been some movement. Mary Creagh continues to rise up the table, picking at government transport policy. Creagh is due a big policy announcement; a good performance around this will see her star rise further still.

Behind her, Chuka Umunna, Andy Burnham and Vernon Coaker are tied on equal points.  Coaker’s sensible and pragmatic speech on the future of defence policy should offer confidence that Labour are serious about the UK remaining an international player. Umunna’s speech on Agenda 2030 set out a strong vision for the relations between business and society. Burnham remains steady in his pursuit of Jeremy Hunt, although March offered less headline grabbing moments.

After a good star to the year, Maria Eagle has slipped back. After the deluge of news around flooding and the badger cull, March offered relatively slim pickings. Her low number of written questions ensures that she remains mid-table.

Observant readers will notice that there has been little change between the positions of 12 and 23. This is not necessarily a bad sign, more a case of an election-based rising tide floating all ships (except those with holes in). A number of shadows in this bracket have had good months.  Douglas Alexander has shown in his response to the events in Ukraine that is a match for William Hague and will be a fine foreign secretary.  Gloria de Piero continues to be a strong advocate on women and equalities issues, especially in the face of government indifference to these matters at times; her background at GMTV has enabled her to exploit media opportunities presented to her.

Angela Eagle continues to be a solid performer in TV studios and always gives Andrew Lansley a run for his money at the weekly business statement. In a rare PMQs stand-in job, Harriet Harman trounced Nick Clegg; however, she continues to fail to probe DCMS sufficiently well for a shadow minister with her experience.

Budget month is always tricky for a Shadow Chancellor; the Leader of the Opposition’s Budget Response and the Chancellor steal the limelight and you are left to tour studios picking up the teeth of your boss or continuing to reign down punches upon an already dazed opponent. Either way, credit can be hard to come by, but following the extra focus on the budget, he rises to 16th.

Jim Murphy continues to fluctuate between good months and bad months.  Tristram Hunt has not been able to follow up on a positive start to his job. He swings hard at Gove but fails to land on any blows on the most impressive Tory minister. At the bottom, the Celtic fringe shadows languish. Their scores reflect the nature of their brief – limited by devolution and mainly reactive to events. Margaret Curran had some good questions though.

Jon Trickett, as Ed’s point man with the unions with respect to party reform, managed to get all but one affiliated union to support the reforms. Perhaps his public inactivity wasn’t for nothing. Still, one wonders what he will do from now on.

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2 Responses to “Shadow cabinet league: Sadiq Khan strides ahead”

  1. Flanker says:

    Sadiq Kahn has said much about his Pakistani cultural heritage.

    Sadiq Kahn on a recent Question Time called English people ‘little Englanders’.

    I am surprised that such prejudiced language should be honoured in the Labour moment, and it begs the question how someone given the brief of Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice over English people could hold this brief with such prejudiced views.

  2. Tafia says:

    Sadiq Kahn on a recent Question Time called English people ‘little Englanders’.

    We Welsh think a lot of the English are ‘Little Englanders’ and I dare say the Scots and Northern Irish do as well.

    All the English have to do is stop thinking the UK is England and is there to serve English interests. Not difficult unless you are thick as pig shit.

    What the English fail to grasp is that to the Welsh, Scots and Northern Irish, London is no more relevant than Timbuktu.

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