by Alan Smithee
We are entering reshuffle season. Parliament is full of Labour MPs hoping Ed Miliband won’t put the black spot on them. For some shadow cabinet members, this is the end of the line. For others, they will cling on, their hopes of high office not yet dashed. At Uncut, we are nothing but loyal servants to Dear Leader, so our table may give him a few ideas as to who should be bumped off.
The recess and elections meant that May saw relatively low levels of parliamentary activity. Sadiq Khan continued his good work. The relative success of the London results has boosted his chances of getting mayoralty nomination (even if his spectacularly poor Express article showed a lack of judgement). Chris Leslie had a busy media month, attempting to combat the Government’s narrative over the recovery and setting out how Labour would build long-termism into the economy. Hilary Benn and his team continue their strong media attacks on the DCLG, exposing the incompetence of Pickles.
Over at Progress conference, Chuka Umunna put in a smooth performance in his Q&A session with Jacqui Smith. This capped off a successful month where he rang rings around the Government over the Pfizer/AstraZeneca issue and bested the BBC’s notoriously tricky interviewer Andrew Neil.
Just behind Chuka, Caroline Flint and his potential leadership rival Yvette Cooper had contrasting months. Flint and her team had a slow month (aside from the mandatory campaigning). By contrast, Cooper made some good interventions, proactively generating stories over Labour’s policies towards the assets of criminals and exposing the government’s poor record on waiting times for victims of crime. In the media, however, she was understandably overshadowed by Theresa May’s audacious intervention at the Police Federation conference.
Tied on the same points are Mary Creagh, Maria Eagle and Rachel Reeves.
Reeves made headlines last month with her speech on pensions with proposals for greater auto-enrollment and collective pensions featuring heavily. Parliamentary questions in the low single figures defined Eagle and Creagh’s months; their position in the table sustained by a busy start to year over flooding, badgers and HS2.
Another solid month for Andy Burnham and Vernon Coaker. As the latter plodded on and gave good reactions to defence-related news stories, Burnham continued to position himself for that future leadership race, grasping the mantle of champion of Party’s NHS anti-marketeers.
A disappointing performance from Douglas Alexander. As the Party’s internal battles spilt out into the papers, he helped lead Labour to terrible council and European election results. More focus on getting our message right and tight would be good. A good start would be to get hold of a copy of Atul Hatwal’s speech to Progress Conference. Otherwise, let someone else do the job.
A poor month too from Jim Murphy. Murphy has failed to build on his important and positive speech in April, with only a smattering of written questions.
Some crucial interventions from Ed Balls this month in particular over comments made by the Governor of the Bank of England and the state of the housing market. His comments on the future of the EU gained headlines calling for vetoes for national parliaments over certain legislation and controls to prevent benefit tourism.
Must try harder is the comment on Tristram Hunt’s report card. He has failed to land any hits on his teflon opposite number, be in on extremism or on £400m being redirected towards free schools.
After a few impressive months, Gloria De Piero’s performance has dipped slightly. Her lack of media appearances has been compensated by some strong written questions – ranging across childcare, the Women’s Business Council and occupational pensions.
A welcome return to form from Michael Dugher. Dugher has again set out policy proposals for civil service reform and attacked the Tories over iffy donations. He was, however, said to be behind some of the briefing that went on during the run-up to the Euros; this was particularly not helpful.
Behind Dugher come Angela Eagle and the regional shadows. A low profile month (or should that just be job) for all, although Eagle continues to land some blows on Lansley in the chamber most weeks.
Harriet Harman is still languishing near the bottom. She has done little in her role to set out Labour’s vision for culture, media and sport. Perhaps Ed should move her to a Shadow Minister without Portfolio slot tasked with motivating grassroots members prior to the next election.
Last, and in terms of work rate, certainly least, comes Jon Trickett. Time for him to move on.