Thursday, 7 October 2010

Jack Straw calls Labours shadow cabinet selection 'Barking mad'

All parties have their own forms of democracy. I'm sure that none are perfect and it is for that party to choose or change their internal democracy. But Labours electoral college and elected shadow cabinet does appear to have some floors that could be improved and updated.

Today Labour will announce their shadow cabinet today. This brings up the question of not allowing the Labour leader to select the shadow cabinet. Ed Miliband will have to rely on those who are voted in through the Labour parliamentary party.


Jack Straw on BBC Five Live today said "It's fine if your not in the shadow cabinet because those appointments are made on a rational basis by the leader. If your in the shadow cabinet, the shadow cabinet is elected. I from a position of complete neutrality said to my colleagues, look I survived and prospered by this systems for 10 years. But I'll just tell you its barking mad. Because for arithmetical reasons as well its a daft system. what it means is that of the 18/19 people in the shadow cabinet probably a dozen are capable of being in the cabinet half a dozen are not and if and when, and it will be when we have a Labour government some of those people who thought it was a kind of meal ticket into the proper cabinet will be sorely disappointed.

Nicky Campbell "then asked will you come on in a few days and with Mandelsonian candour tell us the half a dozen who are not up to it?"

Jack Straw replied "Err no. Because if I did come on in a few days I would say to you that their all appositely fine. and indeed, but here's the point Nicky, I won't know, because it's the front bench as in the shadow cabinet is an interesting test of people character and ability. So you don't necessarily know immediately. Although what I do know is that if we left the decision of shadow cabinet as we left the decisions about the cabinet to the leader, people may say it gives them too much power but it actually gives them a great deal of responsibility."

The whole interview can be heard here (from about 2hours 10 minutes in) and includes some interesting comments on Peter Mandelson book.

I agree with Jack Straw on this. This process has an element of a popularity contest. MP's will need to stay on the good side of their fellow members. Not bad thing you may say, but this lack of control for any leader is no good thing for bring about a sense of leadership and for getting the members in the cabinet who would work best with you. It's possible that those MP's you don't get along with will also be the MP's that stab you in the back.


  1. "But Labours electoral college and elected shadow cabinet does appear to have some floors..."

    This is hilarious! I think the Lib Dems should be campaigning for more money to go into education!

  2. hmm I believe Lib Dems are. but yes it is funny.

  3. Thank you for posting such a useful, impressive and a wicked article./Wow.. looking good!

    Cabinet Makers