Posts Tagged ‘Shadow Cabinet’

The shadcab mini-makeover – It’s not just the party’s policies that are getting refreshed

05/08/2011, 08:00:40 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Step back Gok Wan. Take a break Trinny and Susannah. Competition is on the way.

Although the identity of the new makeover maestro remains secret, what we do know is that they work with the Labour party and they are operating at the highest levels.

A few weeks ago the news section of the Labour Party website got a facelift. But it wasn’t just the site that changed its look. At the same time, a small number of the file photos of Labour’s top team were also miraculously transformed.

Amongst the lucky few, the leader of the Labour Party went through a metamorphosis.

Before the change, Ed Miliband’s manic grin and staring eyes were reminiscent of a crazed teddy bear. The composition of the picture and the stark white background made it look like something from a school year book:

“Ed Miliband, student most likely to join the U.S. postal service”

What a difference a simple snap makes.

In the new picture the grin is gone, the colours are more sobre and the little dab of white in his hair is in shot to lend gravitas. And then there’s the expression. He’s looking the viewer knowingly in eye, measured and focused. It’s an expression that’s strangely familiar.

Ah yes – Blue Steel. (more…)

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A mounting in-tray will curtail Ed’s summer fun

19/07/2011, 08:03:20 AM

by Kevin Meagher

The annual summer wind-down beckons. Westminster rises for the summer recess this week and MPs will pack up their troubles along with their metaphorical buckets and spades and disperse for sunnier climbs. The silly season begins and through the haze of August, the party conferences loom.

After hitting his stride over the past few weeks with more assured parliamentary performances and some genuine speed and boldness in response to the hacking scandal, Ed Miliband at last has wind in his sails.

But it is not all plain sailing for him. A pile of knotty party management problems is accumulating which needs his careful attention.

First up is the selection of a new Labour general secretary to succeed Ray Collins. This is a pivotal appointment for him (well, technically the national executive). Ed needs a figure capable of energising the party, but also someone long enough in the tooth to know what the party can and cannot deliver for him. The choice is down to a respected insider, current deputy Chris Lennie, and a well-regarded outsider, the GMB’s political officer Iain McNicol. Today is decision day.

Then the political gets personal as Ed has to make good on his bid to scrap elections to the shadow cabinet. The parliamentary party backed his plan last week. The NEC will most likely rubber-stamp it today before a nod-through at conference in September. We can presumably expect a reshuffle thereafter. (more…)

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Thursday News Review

30/06/2011, 05:53:38 AM

Strike day

Thousands of furious workers are staging a mass walkout today to fight Government plans to savage their pensions. The strikes by around 750,000 teachers and civil servants will be the biggest day of industrial action since Margaret Thatcher was PM in the 1980s. Hard-pressed staff have already been hit by savage Coalition cutbacks and are incensed over proposals to hammer their pensions. Thousands of schools in England and Wales will be closed today while ports and airports will be disrupted. Driving centres, courts, job centres and even Downing Street will also be affected. Last night Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the Government was morally responsible for the strikes because it was trying to steamroller through unfair changes to pensions and had failed to negotiate. She added: “Deciding to strike is not a decision we take lightly. This is the first time ATL members will be involved in a national strike in our 127 years. – Daily Mirror

The coalition government faces the first industrial uprising against its austerity measures today as up to 750,000 public servants strike over planned changes to their pensions. A third of schools are expected to close and two-thirds of universities have cancelled lectures. Benefits will go unpaid, court cases will be postponed, police leave has been cancelled in London and airports are bracing themselves for backlogs at immigration. Mark Serwotka, leader of the Public and Commercial Services union, said it was the most important strike in his union’s history. “Everything we have ever worked for is under attack,” he added. The government was trying to avoid inflaming the situation. David Cameron told the Commons: “What we are proposing is fair: it is fair to taxpayers but it is also fair to the public sector because we want to continue strong public sector pensions.” He said Labour was avoiding the issue, accusing the party of being “paid for by the unions [so] they can’t discuss the unions”. None of the four striking unions, with members in schools, colleges, universities and the civil service, is affiliated to the Labour party. Nearly every other union is poised to move towards strike action by the end of the year if the bitter standoff over public sector pension reforms is not resolved. Roads in central London will shut as thousands of people march in demonstrations that will be echoed across the country. Police leave has been cancelled so officers can cover for striking police community support officers, call handlers on the 999 lines and security staff. – the Guardian

As many as 750,000 teachers and civil servants are expected to join today’s strikes. Millions of others face severe inconvenience or financial loss: from parents who stay at home because their children’s schools are closed to people wanting to enter or leave the country. It should be stressed that not all public-sector staff will be striking. Many NHS staff, transport workers and others are not involved, although their unions do not exclude action in future. This is nothing like a general strike, nor even a strike by the whole public sector – though there are those on both sides of the public-private divide with an interest in presenting it as such. There is no doubt that many public sector workers are angry, frustrated and disillusioned on the very specific issue that is the focus of today’s protest: moves by the Government to change the terms and conditions of public-service pensions. And they are not completely wrong when they argue that long-standing terms of employment are threatened or that pensions have been a plus for the public sector in recruiting and keeping staff. But these arguments ignore the bigger picture. In pension provision, Britain is rapidly becoming two nations. One nation can look forward to a pension which, while not necessarily qualifying for the description “gold-plated”, is secure and bears a predictable relation to salary and years of service. The other nation – which comprises the vast majority of the working population – increasingly cannot. In most private companies, secure final-salary schemes are a thing of the past. Contributions are higher, the returns mostly lower, and the pensionable age higher than in the public sector – if there is a pension scheme at all. – the Independent

Prezza hits the campaign trail as election day looms

Former deputy prime minister John Prescott put tackling unemployment at the top of the agenda as he joined Labour’s Inverclyde by-election candidate on the campaign trail on Wednesday. Speaking just hours before the polls open, Mr Prescott said Iain McKenzie’s message was “jobs, jobs, jobs”. He added: “I am delighted to be out and about in Inverclyde today supporting Iain McKenzie to be a strong, local voice in Westminster. He’s a local man who knows this area like the back of his hand. Iain didn’t just arrive in Inverclyde for the by-election. It’s about jobs, jobs, jobs. Unemployment here is too high. The Tories are ruining the economy, punishing families and hurting decent people just looking for work. Inverclyde needs a local champion to go down to Westminster and fight the corner. That’s why I’m here to back Iain.” –

Voters in Inverclyde go to the polls later to elect a new member of the UK Parliament. Polling stations in the constituency will be open from 0700 BST until 2200 BST. Labour is defending a 14,416-vote majority in the Westminster seat, also being contested by the SNP, Tories, Lib Dems, and UKIP. The by-election is being held to find a replacement for David Cairns, who died from acute pancreatitis in May. Sophie Bridger is standing for the Liberal Democrats, Iain McKenzie for Labour, Anne McLaughlin for SNP, Mitch Sorbie for the UK Independence Party and David Wilson for the Conservatives. – BBC News

EU budget grab

David Cameron is facing pressure to veto the latest ‘ludicrous’ cash demand from Brussels after it  announced plans to slap three new taxes on Britain. The European Commission yesterday revealed budget demands which would cost UK taxpayers £10billion. In what Treasury officials viewed as one of the most outrageous power grabs in recent memory, they demanded the right to raise a Europe-wide sales tax. Brussels bosses also called for a new financial transaction tax, which critics say will hurt the City of London and leave consumers with higher borrowing costs.  And they unveiled plans to let Brussels grab a chunk of green taxes which are already being levied on polluters. In total, the commission demanded nearly £100billion extra for the EU’s budget between 2014 and 2020. British taxpayers would have to pay £10billion more over the seven-year period – an increase of £1.4billion a year on the current British annual payment of £13.3billion. – Daily Mail

Which one are you again?

One in four people thinks Ed Miliband is his elder brother David. A similar proportion of voters believe that David is actually Ed. Nine months into his leadership of the Labour Party, the findings of the ComRes survey for The Independent do not paint a flattering picture for Ed Miliband, as he steps up his efforts to convince the people that he is a prime minister-in-waiting. Other members of his Shadow Cabinet are even more anonymous. The only good news is for Ed Balls, the combative shadow chancellor who stood against the Milibands for the Labour leadership last year, and who appears to have made more of an impact on the electorate than the two brothers. He was correctly identified by 68 per cent of the 2,000 voters who were shown photographs of eight senior Labour figures and asked to put one of five names to their face. Ed Miliband was named accurately by 64 per cent of those questioned but 23 per cent thought he was his brother David. David was identified by 61 per cent but 26 per cent thought he was his brother. The other five Shadow Cabinet figures tested by ComRes were recognised by only three or four in 10 voters, suggesting that the Opposition team is struggling to be noticed and many Shadow Cabinet members remain in the shadows. – the Independent

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Shadow cabinet league table: Murphy opens up clear lead

27/05/2011, 07:39:34 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Bottom three adrift as Uncut readers vote on whether there should be relegation from the shadow cabinet

Jim Murphy has opened up a commanding lead over Douglas Alexander at the top of the league. Following a month in which he landed yet another urgent question and was a fixture in the media, there is now a gap of 74 points between first and second.


The gap is all the bigger because of an uncharacteristically quiet month for Alexander. For the first time since the shadow cabinet was formed, he didn’t put out a single press release in the month. Based on his performance in May, Alexander was the eighth hardest working member of the shadow cabinet.

He has never been this low in a monthly ranking.

It’s too early to tell whether this is the start of a decline in his work rate, but with the conflict in Libya, upheaval in the Middle East and the Taliban’s summer offensive underway, this is hardly time for a dip in activity.

In third, Sadiq Khan posted another solid month. He stepped up his media output, issuing four press releases, double the number of any previous month. In previous months, this media profile has been a weakness for Khan. Increased press work will help establish him as a major Labour figure in his own right, beyond having been Ed Miliband’s leadership campaign manager.

But, for Khan, there were areas for improvement that highlighted the difference between being third and what it takes to be number one. (more…)

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Denham nicks it from Balls for goal of the month

22/05/2011, 06:50:50 PM

Denham overtakes Balls in last hour of voting to win by less than 2%

In a dramatic last gasp victory, John Denham overtook long time leader Ed Balls to win the shadow cabinet goal of the month. Denham received 36.5% of the votes cast compared to Balls on 34.6%.

Andy Burnham was third with 19.2% with John Healey on 5.8% and Douglas Alexander on 3.9%.

Since voting started on Friday, John Denham and Ed Balls were level pegging in the public vote until Balls opened up a narrow lead late on Saturday. Balls seemed set to hold on for victory only to be overhauled by John Denham in the last hour of the competition.

The closeness of the vote is in marked contrast to last month, where Ed Balls’ winning margin was over 40%.

Denham’s victory comes off the back of securing his first urgent question since the shadow cabinet was formed.

By moving quickly on the morning of 10th May and tabling the urgent question, John Denham was able to force David Willets back to the Commons to take the question. The resulting exchange meant Denham featured heavily in the night’s news bulletins and managed to pick-up May’s goal of the month.

Not bad for a morning’s work.

Over the past few months, John Denham’s performance has been something of an enigma. While clearly talented and blessed with a commanding baritone, ideal for the chamber, he has only sporadically demonstrated his ability.

In terms of work rate in the House of Commons, John Denham has barely broken a sweat. Before May, he had tabled a total of 11 written questions, asked nine oral questions and made 5 speeches at the despatch box. For the shadow secretary of state for Business, a department fraught with crisis, this is far from stellar performance.

But outside of Parliament, it’s a different story.

John Denham has issued a stream of press releases and comment on stories, securing media profile that makes him one of the most familiar shadow cabinet faces on our TV screens.

What made Denham’s goal of the month a cut above his previous work was the way it combined activity in the House of Commons with media coverage outside of parliament.

Putting down the urgent question not only held Willets to democratic account, it created a parliamentary occasion that broadcasters could use in their news packages.

This one-two of using parliament as the spring board for media coverage was a model of how to hold the government to account. If John Denham can repeat this in the coming weeks, Vince Cable will soon be back where he belongs – vying with the likes of Chris Huhne, Ken Clarke, Andrew Lansley and Michael Gove for the title of cabinet gaffer.

Your winning moment:

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WillKat wedding trumped: Murphy shocks Alexander to take league lead

29/04/2011, 07:35:23 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Royal wedding? What royal wedding? The big news today is that the shadow cabinet work-rate league has a new leader. For the first time since this shadow cabinet was formed, Douglas Alexander has been knocked-off top spot.

The new leader is Jim Murphy who has sustained an amazing work-rate to surge past Alexander.

In a month with limited Parliamentary activity because of recess, Murphy still managed to land yet another urgent question – the third in seven weeks. And outside of Parliament, on the media front, while Alexander posted a respectable two releases, Murphy churned out nine.

It’s not clear where William and Kate’s personal allegiances lie in this defining contest but these dramatic developments are likely to be the talk of the wedding banquet.

It is understood that royal insiders had been concerned for weeks that Murphy moving into the lead would knock the wedding off the nation’s front pages and captivate the public’s attention. (more…)

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New league table of shadow cabinet “work rate”

27/01/2011, 11:00:52 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Uncut analysis shows Alexander, Healey, Balls and Murphy lead way in holding government to account

Douglas Alexander, John Healey, Ed Balls and Jim Murphy are the shadow cabinet’s leading campaigners in and out of Parliament, according to a new analysis of the “work rate” of Ed Miliband’s top team.


At the top of the table, Douglas Alexander has conducted a forensic examination of Iain Duncan Smith’s department for work and pensions, putting down 89 written Parliamentary questions that have helped provide the material for 26 press releases. (more…)

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The full Labour shadow team

10/10/2010, 05:53:21 PM

Ed Miliband, Leader of the Labour Party, said:

“I am delighted with Labour’s front bench team. I am particularly pleased that I could bring in a new generation of talent, whilst also using the experience of a broad range of Labour MPs. This is a team from all parts of the party, which will robustly hold the coalition government to account”

The Shadow Team

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The week Uncut

10/10/2010, 01:48:50 PM

This week was all about George and Vince. George’s child benefit cuts caused confusion throughout the Tory ranks. Dave said sorry. Vince’s incredible u-turn on university fees caused a shock wave throughout the Lib Dem ranks. Nick said nothing.

Ed got dealt his hand. 19 players picked by the PLP, with some big names left on the bench. He played his wildcard and rescued one or two of his campaign faithful. Gordon’s Scottish mafia are gone, the ‘new generation’ hail from Yorkshire.

Lower down the food chain, the junior shadow ministers should be named today, with lots of the ‘010 intake expected to make a showing.

In case you missed them, here are Uncut’s best read pieces of the last seven days:

Michael Dugher said Liam Fox is right (and George and Dave are wrong) on Defence cuts

Dan Hodges deconstructed the new shadow cabinet

Uncut gave you our pen portraits of the new front bench team

Philip Cowley talked us through the incumbency factor

Tom Watson wrote to David Cameron about the new Andy Coulson allegations

ITV News’ Alex Forrest took her baby somewhere funny

Tory  Margot James couldn’t quite figure out her own party’s child benefit cuts

Chris Bryant wrote a poem for national poetry day

Nick Keehan says we shouldn’t join the Tories in going soft on sentencing

Dave Howells gave us his take on Cameron’s big society big moment

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Dan Hodges deconstructs the new shadow cabinet

09/10/2010, 09:00:35 AM

ANOTHER HURDLE cleared. The lot of the new leader. Evade the obstacles, real and imagined.

First conference speech. Check. First shadow cabinet. Check. First grilling by Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby. Tough one. But check.

As with every other make or break moment Ed Miliband will face over the next few months, yesterday’s was definitive. “It will test his maturity and decisiveness”, warned the Independent.

Well, unless he was planning to order the shadow cabinet to turn up to their first meeting in fancy dress, or delay the announcement till boxing day, Ed was always likely to scrape home this time. An examination of his leadership skills? Yes. But the reintroduction of shadow cabinet elections ensured that it was a straightforward multiple choice, rather than a full blown thesis.

Put aside the hype. Ed Miliband played a relatively weak hand well. (more…)

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