Letter: Benn should not be blamed

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The Independent Online
While Anthony Wedgwood Benn certainly foisted all too many follies on to the Labour Party, Alan Watkins is mistaken in asserting (21 April) that it was Benn who was responsible for the ridiculous rule that all elected members of the Shadow Cabinet must be members of an incoming Labour Cabinet.

That absurd change to the Parliamentary Labour Party's standing orders derives from the recommendations of one of the committees of inquiry which the PLP appoints from time to time. I chaired one and managed to ensure that it perpetrated minimal damage. Another one, ominously, is at work this very minute.

By the way, Mr Watkins is also in error in bemoaning Labour's escape from being "punished" for its by-election tactics in Littleborough and Saddleworth by failing to win the seat. Whether or not Labour deserved to be punished, it did in fact fail to win.

Gerald Kaufman MP

House of Commons, SW1