Simon Carr's verdict on the new shadow cabinet

Share
Related Topics


Yvette Cooper: shadow Foreign Secretary



Opposite Number: William Hague


Yvette Cooper topped the poll. Practically everyone voted for her.

She's achieved a sudden saintliness – as if it were quite forgotten, the sheer unremitting relentlessness of her, that we see on television interviews.

She wasn't allowed an attack department. She could have gorged on Osborne's, and what a feast she would have made of Andrew Lansley (the offal alone!).

But for a year or two she will be a rose blowing in the desert. The Foreign Office is very far from the front line. The travel may be a problem for her young children – but these things can be managed. It's a rest cure for politicians.

Was it the best use of the Ballses? It's the only chance Ed Miliband has to neutralise them. First things first. Party management comes before making the opposition oppose.

It may be a three-act comedy rather than a five-act tragedy.

Ed Balls: shadow Home Secretary

Opposite Number: Theresa May

He will have his revenge in this life or the next. The Treasury is Ed Balls's by right, by training, temperament, experience and aptitude. He would be a man o' the people opposing and attacking a sneering, snuff-taking, 18th-century Secretary of the Hell Fire Club. It's a match made in heaven.

Instead, he is assigned to a role against a woman. Kryptonite! He won't be able to use the bellowing, overbearing, two-fisted, two fingered approach that is uniquely his. Or if he does, it will count against him, for all the talk of equality we hear.

He also has to formulate an immigration policy for the conservative white working-class. To which observers can only say: "Har har har."

He can't turn over in bed without rippling the political forcefield. If the economy deteriorates (and he must be praying for a double-dip recession to unleash unemployment) there will be those who increasingly look to him as a leader-in-exile.

Alan Johnson: shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer

Opposite Number: George Osborne.

Alan Johnson! What was the question again? In the top 10 of the Shadow Cabinet, five didn't vote for Ed Miliband at all, not with any of their votes. Four put him third. One voted for Ed Balls.

The leader is far from being among friends. So: who could be shadow Chancellor without rivalling or undermining the leader? Someone who the public will like, and who will follow instructions? Is it a weak or strong appointment? It is certainly daring. The spending review in a couple of weeks is the biggest data mountain of recent times. It's a big bet that amiable Alan will handle it with all necessary confidence in a packed House of Commons.

Harriet Harman: deputy leader

Opposite Number: Nick Clegg.

Deputy leader for life. She may make it hereditary and pass it on to her children.

Andy Burnham: shadow Secretary of State for Education

Opposite Number: Michael Gove.

May have the ability to make Michael Gove look competent. He's a one-in-a-1,000 sort of politician.

Rosie Winterton: Chief Whip

Opposite Number: Patrick McLoughlin.

A velvet fist in a velvet glove. Has all the persuasive powers of Fenella Fielding c 1985.

John Healey: shadow Secretary of State for Health

Opposite Number: Andrew Lansley.

Assiduously inconspicuous. Marked resemblance to Leonard Rossiter. Voted for Balls.

Angela Eagle: shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Opposite Number: Danny Alexander.

Would be the greater of two Eagles but lacks a department. Beat her boss by two votes.

Douglas Alexander: shadow Secretary of State for Works and Pensions

Opposite Number: Iain Duncan Smith.

Spurned by Brownites and misvoted in the leadership elections. Not a bad result for the increasingly lonely Scot.

Jim Murphy: shadow Secretary of State for Defence

Opposite Number: Liam Fox.

Tall, popular, attractive.

Tessa Jowell: shadow minister for the Olympics

Opposite Number: Hugh Robertson.

Still around. Has transferred her unswerving loyalty from the Blairs to the more reliable Olympics.

Caroline Flint: shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Opposite Number: Eric Pickles.

Most famous as window dressing. Not entirely fair: she is perfectly capable.

Ann McKechin: shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

Opposite Number: Michael Moore.

Shall we bomb Iran – or the Swat Valley? Ann, what do you think?

John Denham: shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

Opposite Number: Vince Cable.

Stays firmly in the second tier. A great loss to the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Hilary Benn: shadow Leader of the House of Commons

Opposite Number: Sir George Young.

He persists in taking up space that might be better occupied by, say, Roberta Blackman-Woods.

Sadiq Khan: shadow Secretary of State for Justice

Opposite Number: Ken Clarke.

His genius he puts into his hair.

Mary Creagh: shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Opposite Number: Caroline Spelman.

Nothing is known of her. But she may vote to reduce a third-world country to rubble. Such is democracy.

Maria Eagle: shadow Secretary of State for Transport

Opposite Number: Philip Hammond.

Could the recent fratricidal drama inspire one twin against the other? The answer is very probably No.

Meg Hillier: shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

Opposite Number: Chris Huhne.

A wolverine hitherto restrained by her minister's choke chain. Now she is off the leash. And she is hungry. Very promising appointment.

Ivan Lewis: shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Opposite Number: Jeremy Hunt.

Bit of a maverick. Can we hope for nudity and adult language over his dispatch box?

Liam Byrne: shadow minister for the Cabinet Office

Opposite Number: Oliver Letwin.

His greatest achievement to date? Keeping the purring Emily Thornberry out of the shadow Cabinet.

Also in the shadow Cabinet:

The Chief Whip in the Lords is Lord Bassam of Brighton.

The shadow Attorney General is Baroness Scotland.

The shadow minister of state for the Cabinet Office is Jon Trickett.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
New rules mean individuals will no longer be allowed to register other people in their household  

A political voice that really needs to be heard

Rebecca Armstrong
If Miliband is PM, it is expected that Cameron will stand down as party leader quickly  

Election 2015: The Ed Miliband I worked with in Downing Street

Nick Rowley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living