Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Labour's Comeback Kids?

Even though she was utterly wrong, the strong performance of former Communities Secretary Hazel Blears on Newsnight tonight actually left me wondering if she is angling for a Shadow Cabinet comeback - which leads to the question of what the Labour frontbench will look like after the new leader is elected.

One thing is for certain - if Diane Abbot doesn't win (!) she won't serve the new leader. But it does ask the question about what you do with the other failed leadership candidates; the Milibands, Andy Burnham or Ed Balls?

Hazel is one of a number of ministers who quit under Brown who could be brought back into action. What about Caroline Flint - is she ready for the Shadow Cabinet?

There is a question about some of the outgoing cabinet and if they would either want to serve or if a new "change" leader would want them - such as Bob Ainsworth (Defence) or Liam Byrne (will he survive that note?), Alistair Darling (would he want to stay on)? What about Jack Straw?

Then there are the young guns who'll be looking for promotion - Douglas Alexander, for example, will expect a leg up from International Development. Yvette Cooper could also expect a big new job.

There are the safe pairs of hands - Hilary Benn, Nick Brown, John Denham, Peter Hain, Alan Johnson, Jim Murphy, Shaun Woodward will all be on the roundabout.

And what about the golden oldies - might they wish for one more pop, either to help balance the Shadow Cabinet & offer experience ... or do they walk away? So, for example, what will Margaret Beckett, former Foreign Secretary, do? David Blunkett, former Home Secretary, may also be tempted?

Ed Balls is a tricky move for any new leader who isn't Ed Balls; but his recent pitbull attitude to the Tories would suit a more free-ranging role.

The other name that it would interesting to see if any leader could get them to serve is Jon Cruddas; it would be a coup if they could and a healing moment for the party.

And then there are the young bucks trying to make their shadow cabinet breakthrough - Rhondda MP Chris Bryant, Tooting's Sadiq Khan, Tottenham's David Lammy, . Former Minister Chris Leslie, who returned to the Commons as Nottingham East MP is also touting himself about the House. Ditto Stephen Twigg, back as one of Liverpool's MPs.

Plus of course you get to keep Deputy Leader Harriet Harman as a bonus; will she try and get Margaret Hodge to come with her? Can Pat McFadden keep his position? What about Stephen Timms? Or Rosie Winterton?

Of course the big thing will be that this Shadow Cabinet will be subject to an election and may look very different depending on who takes the helm!

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