Denham nicks it from Balls for goal of the month

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.

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One Response to “Denham nicks it from Balls for goal of the month”

  1. Lucien says:

    Why couldn’t we vote by AV?

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