Letter: Labour choice of team leaders

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Sir: Andrew Marr's extraordinary contribution to democracy is to propose the abolition of shadow cabinet elections in the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP). He bases this brave idea on the fact that canvassing takes place and presumably that MPs, professional canvassers all, are unable to cope with the procedures.

In fact, most MPs give muted assent to every approach, vote in secret as they individually see fit, and base their judgements on the performances they see day by day in the House and the strategy and policy documentation that frontbenchers deliver week in and week out. We also bear very much in mind winning the next elections and retaining our own seats.

Andrew Marr also drags out for an airing the old donated ballot paper and 'slate' processes - which have been firmly dumped by the PLP. The elections, he says, are inappropriate because they give success to the 'talented George Robertson' but not to the 'talented Frank Field and Geoff Rooker'. They are a 'beauty contest' and yet several of the most charismatic contenders failed to be elected.

That's the trouble with democracy, it does not throw up the characters the pundits would prefer. All the more reason for retaining it, I would have thought.

Yours faithfully,


MP for Lancashire West (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1