Gould may stand for Shadow Cabinet as radicals' champion: Defeated leadership candidate seeks higher spending pledges

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The Independent Online
BRYAN GOULD is considering standing for re-election to the Shadow Cabinet to act as the champion for Labour supporters demanding a more radical economic policy.

After coming equal sixth with 135 votes in the party elections, Mr Gould resigned from the Shadow Cabinet last year in protest at John Smith's refusal to block the passage of the Maastricht treaty.

One option for Mr Gould is to challenge Margaret Beckett for the deputy leadership again next year. Mrs Beckett is in charge of campaigns and Mr Gould's friends say she is perceived to have failed in the job, but it is doubtful whether Mr Gould, heavily defeated for the leadership last July, would win.

It is more likely that Mr Gould will seek re-election next year to the Shadow Cabinet. That would bind him to collective responsibility, but it would give him a platform to argue for higher spending commitments within the Shadow Cabinet.

Behind Mr Gould's threat lies continuing dissatisfaction with the leadership among some on the left, including Peter Hain, a leading member of the Tribune group, who want to change what he called the 'fingers-crossed socialism' - the hope that the Tories will lose the election.

Mr Hain said he had not urged Mr Gould to stand, but added: 'The party needs a change of direction and attitude to win the next election.'

David Blunkett, Labour spokesman on health and Mr Gould's former campaign manager, said he had no knowledge of anyone trying to get Mr Gould to stand: 'I'm not in favour of anything that diverts us from the crucial internal debate about radical policies which will ensure we win the next election. Divisions based on personalities will not aid that process.'

This year's Shadow Cabinet elections will expose a war of the sexes. Some male Labour MPs are complaining that women are being promoted for reasons of gender, not ability - an allegation intensified by a change in the rules, requiring all Labour MPs to vote for at least four, not three, women in the elections.

Some men in the Parliamentary Labour Party believe it could double to eight the women elected, in addition to the deputy leader.

'Harriet (Harman, the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury) is in the wrong job; Ann Taylor and Ann Clwyd have had a bad press. There is a problem with the women in the Shadow Cabinet,' said one Gould supporter.

However, the women dismiss their male colleagues' fears. 'Some of the men are getting very agitated, but it's all getting exaggerated. I think it is possible that the number of women in the Shadow Cabinet may increase, but it will be only by one or two. But that would not do the Labour Party any harm. It would do it a lot of good,' said one