Lucy Powell: Shadow Education Secretary admits battles lie ahead as Labour debates Trident

Ms Powell also admitted that to win in 2020 Labour had to gain voters’ trust on the economy at the same time as offering something different to the Conservatives

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Indy Politics

Lucy Powell, the new shadow Education Secretary, has conceded that the Shadow Cabinet may struggle with collective responsibility on key issues such as Trident under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Speaking to The Independent on Sunday, the MP for Manchester Central hinted at the internal battles that could lie ahead when she said: “We’re all on a journey.”

Ms Powell, who helped run Ed Miliband’s general election campaign, also admitted that to win in 2020 Labour had to gain voters’ trust on the economy at the same time as offering something different to the Conservatives.

While many believe the new Shadow Cabinet will be unable to hold a unified line under Mr Corbyn, shadow ministers have so far been reluctant to discuss it.

Asked whether she would be able to vote the way she wanted on Trident and other issues, Ms Powell said: “We will see. We’ve started to have some of those discussions at the Shadow Cabinet last week. We’re in a new era of new politics and Jeremy’s strap-line – straight-talking, honest politics – would be my watchword as well.” 

She said the public wanted to see shadow ministers “taking positions they personally can support”, adding: “We’ve got to work that through. On some issues we will be able to come to a collective agreement, on others we may not.”

Ms Powell, who hadn’t met Mr Corbyn before he became leader and supported Andy Burnham in the race, said she had “thought long and hard” before agreeing to serve in the Shadow Cabinet.

“The summer has thrown politics up in the air … We’re all on a journey together, which I am taking literally one step at a time.”

Asked how long Mr Corbyn has to prove himself, Ms Powell said: “It’s not for me to put a timeframe on that, but obviously conference week is a very important week when you’re an opposition party.”

Ms Powell insisted her comments last week about bringing free schools and academies under local authority control was not “ideological”, but part of the process of devolution in public services: “This is about local oversight, accountability and the ability of local areas to plan for places and intervene in schools where there are problems … 

“Public policy is moving very fast around devolution of other public services, and rightly so. To take schools out of that mix is just wrongheaded.”

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