Ed Miliband is set to give a speech on Saturday proposing an end to Labour’s two-yearly shadow cabinet elections. The move may antagonise some of his frontbenchers but will be welcomed elsewhere; the system did seem like a bit of an anachronism.
It also cements Ed Miliband’s power base. Any challenge to his authority can now be nipped in the bud; he also has greater power of patronage over any young up-coming – and most importantly, loyal – MP who catches his eye.
Aides say that this is not the prelude to a “night of the long knives” reshuffle by Miliband, who moved swiftly to get rid of Nick Brown last autumn as chief whip. There won’t be a reshuffle this summer or around conference time, they insist.
Here is a link to our full story on ft.com. And here is Miliband’s letter to his MPs.
Incidentally, David Miliband gave a private speech yesterday for a
charity (UPDATE: sorry, fund-raising) event at a hotel in Bloomsbury. He doesn’t seem to be a fan of the shadow cabinet elections (which he didn’t enter) either; he said it was a great shame that the talented Pat McFadden hadn’t made it in. Hard to disagree.
FURTHER UPDATE: (Friday morning). Yes, David Miliband has publically endorsed the move as a good idea.
Ed Miliband will announce his proposal at the national policy forum in Wrexham Read more
The 60-year old cabinet veteran Alan Johnson has insisted that he is sticking around for the long-term, despite signals that he is not exactly bonding with Ed Miliband. Their disagreement over the graduate tax and the 50p income tax band are the most visible signs of tension. They are also spending less time together than you might expect. As the FT reported a few weeks ago:
Mr Johnson and Mr Miliband have been allocated the same offices in Westminster’s Norman Shaw buildings once occupied by Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne before the election. But the shadow chancellor spends most of his time in his old office in a separate building.
You may think it’s still months away. But the manoeuvrings have already begun.
Up to 40 Labour MPs are likely to put themselves forward for the shadow cabinet elections this autumn including ambitious younger figures such as David Lammy, Kevin Brennan, Tom Harris and Barbara Keeley.
Others who have indicated their ambition to stand include Phil Woollas, John Healey, Caroline Flint, Chris Bryant, Jon Cruddas and Angela Eagle. So too has Stephen Twigg (pictured), despite only having been re-elected to Parliament last month.
The internal elections won’t take place until after the new party leader is chosen in late September. The breadth of field in the contest – with many low-profile MPs entering the fray – could mean a distinct change in Labour’s public profile as new faces take on more responsibility. Read more