Thursday, 30 September 2010

After a shaky start, Ed must pick the right shadow cabinet

There are two good things behind that paywall in today's Times, David Aaronovitch's excellent column and Sam Coates's tips for the shadow cabinet (page 11).

Unlike David Aaronovitch, I watched Ed Miliband's speech on TV, and gave my instant verdict on this blog - a clever speech but one that begged questions. But David A is right that Ed needs to show a desire to lead: he should have said he would campaign for AV, not just vote for it. His hard sections were quickly softened by crowd pleasers. Second, while I share the view that he probably had to address Iraq, I agree with David A that Ed M was utterly wrong in his characterisation of Tony Blair's foreign policy, and his passage would have been far more credible had it recognised how a Labour government saved tens of thousands of lives in Kosovo or Sierra Leone. Waiting for the UN - for which, read the principled leaders of Russia and China -to act is a recipe for genocide, as the people of Rwanda and Cambodia know only too well. Such positioning made it impossible for David Miliband to stay in the frontline.

Ed Miliband has the makings of a credible attack on the coalition's cuts, but he must avoid any repeat of last night's interview on Channel 4 News where he sounded too enthusiastic about tax (he needs a better way to express his plans for banking levies, and he should heed Nick Pearce's advice about the effect of focusing too much on redistribution rather than having a broad tax base to tackle inequalities). I know it is early days, and the switch of Chief Whip from Nick Brown to Rosie Winterton suggests a welcome steeliness. Yet to end Labour Party conference with a 'new generation' leader two points behind the Tories in the latest Yougov poll must be worrying.

But if Ed wants to move on from what has been a pretty inauspicious first week, he needs to get his shadow cabinet right. He could do a lot worse than the excellent suggestions for a well-balanced team made by Sam Coates - assuming they all get elected, and recognising that more than six women are likely to be in the team, as Harriet Harman and Rosie Winterton are there by right. Douglas Alexander or Liam Byrne would be right for shadow chancellor, Caroline Flint and Yvette Cooper would be great in education and health, Ed Balls (provided he is allowed to oppose the Tories properly) would be a powerful shadow home secretary and Pat McFadden deserves a big job like shadowing Vince Cable or Eric Pickles. Jim Murphy would be right for defence and Andy Burnham good at transport. Tessa Jowell should have Olympics. Coates proposes Harriet Harman as shadow foreign secretary, a just reward for her renaissance as acting leader and Alan Johnson to tease the increasingly pompous Nick Clegg. I doubt that Ed's advisers could do much better.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"should have said he would campaign for AV, not just vote for it. "

I'm a reformer and I'll be voting for AV, but I can't agree with your point. He has a lot of opposition to square before he can make a call for the Party and affiliates to follow.