The Shadow Cabinet: A complete guide

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The Independent Online
Membership of the Shadow Cabinet:

19 elected members, plus Tony Blair, leader (above left), John Prescott, deputy leader (above right), Doug Hoyle, chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, Lord Richard, leader in the Lords, Lord McIntosh, deputy Lords leader, Lord Graham, Lords chief whip, and Lord Dean, Lords representative.

Margaret Beckett

Trade and industry

"Party hack and proud of it", a minister who became a fierce Bennite but was rehabilitated by John Smith, who preferred her as his deputy when he became party leader.

New Labour rating 0

Robin Cook

Foreign affairs

Brilliant debater with cutting sarcasm, but long at or near the top of annual poll. Took over foreign brief last year, despite hankering after shadow chancellorship.

New Labour rating 6/10

Gordon Brown

Economic affairs

Has the most influence with Tony Blair and now bestrides economic policy- making machinery like a colossus. Skills as political strategist increasingly appreciated in the party.

New Labour rating 10/10

Ron Davies


Shockingly good performance in Shadow Cabinet poll for one written off as irredeemable traditionalist. Impressed with move to squash rises in allowances for Welsh councillors.

New Labour rating 3/10

Donald Dewar

Chief Whip

Ultra-sharp mind, trained with John Smith at Glasgow law school, needed to manage passage of constitutional reform in government, including a Scottish parliament.

New Labour rating 6/10

Mo Mowlam

Northern Ireland

Blair supporter who managed his leadership campaign, and who cemented shift in Labour's stance on Northern Ireland away from the logically challenged "unity by consent".

New Labour rating 10/10

Chris Smith

Social security

"Soft left" moderniser who played an important role in providing substance for Blair's Wilsonian techno-babble. Now has to give substance to key theme of "responsibility" in welfare.

New Labour rating 10/10

Frank Dobson


Workhorse of TV studios and Westminster tearooms. No moderniser, although a robust pragmatist, he waged a well-timed summer campaign against leaky water companies.

New Labour rating 0

David Clark


Wholly unobtrusive politician who has put defence issue to sleep for Labour - to such an extent that, when conference voted to keep Trident younger members thought it uninteresting.

New Labour rating 0

Ann Taylor

Shadow Leader of House

Traditionalist of the old right who produced an education policy last year which failed to upset the National Union of Teachers and thus annoyed the new leader.

New Labour rating 0

David Blunkett

Education and employment

Christian socialist closest to Blair's "social moralism", who has succeeded in offending NUT activists; has fudged opt-out schools and excoriated Hattersley in Brighton.

New Labour rating 6/10

Gavin Strang


He was a surprise new face in last year's Shadow Cabinet, but is still widely unknown outside Westminster despite various photo-calls in defence of the doorstep pinta.

New Labour rating 0

Jack Straw

Home affairs

Student leftie who rose through Barbara Castle's office to become a centre- right moderniser. Expected to be an effective minister, with an imaginative grasp of the detail, although lacks presentational brio.

New Labour rating 10/10

Joan Lestor

Overseas development

Old-time Tribunite sustained in shadow cabinet by ancient loyalties and what some Blair supporters call "assisted-places scheme", adopting right- wingers' abuse aimed at compulsory votes for four women. Another ex-minister.

New Labour rating 0

Michael Meacher

Deputy to Mr Blunkett, responsible for employment.

Once Tony Benn's "emissary on earth", the last time he held employment brief he was scorned by Kinnock as "weak as water" and replaced with a rising favourite called Tony Blair. New Labour rating 0

Clare Short


Stands out from the careful men in suits as a politician of blazing sincerity, but also shows astute judgement. Once suspicious of Blair, but has recently impressed him, particularlywith Brighton speech.

New Labour rating 3/10

George Robertson


European spokesman who managed a divided Labour Party through Maastricht debates with such skill that government was seriously disrupted. Rationalised the party's commitment to a Scottish parliament.

New Labour rating 6/10

Harriet Harman


Ultra-moderniser; a friend of Blair's wife before he was an MP. Victim of Labour MPs' suspicion of the "beautiful people" when voted off shadow cabinet in 1993. Will never be loved by grey "Old" Labour.

New Labour rating 6/10

Tom Clarke

Disabled people's rights

Former spokesman on Scottish affairs, not considered a success. Embarrassed Labour in the Monklands by-election. Devotes his life to canvassing for shadow cabinet elections among colleagues.

New Labour rating 0