Well, well, well, Jeremy Corbyn has had his first taste of the straightjacket of power. He had to produce some thirty members of a shadow cabinet like rabbits out of a hat. His train didn’t actually hit the buffers, but it was certainly delayed and diverted. He found that being in charge didn’t always mean things going completely to your personal plan.
Probably his biggest problem was caused by women! He was forced in the choosing process to constantly face the need to appoint them – or fall at the first hurdle. He ended-up with a fifty-fifty split, but he failed miserably to give any of them one of the shadow jobs of the prodigious three Great Offices of State nor other desirable top senior roles – so he was forced to make one such female minister also First Secretary of State, to try to divert widespread criticism (but that never was going to work, was it?). Some of the established players he would have liked on board ‘to unify the Party’, simply ditched his offers – so he has introduced a host of unknown and parliamentary unproven men and women (some of whom are so new that they might get lost getting to the Chamber – but they are left wing so that doesn’t matter, perhaps?).
Who are these people who will now be supposedly holding the Government to account, but earning massive amounts of taxpayers’ money in the process?
Of ten of them let’s start with shadow Chancellor John McDonald, widely predicted for the honour – being an established hard leftwing longstanding big mate of Corbyn. An experienced tough cookie though, who is likely to make his mark – he is an ex-working class Northerner, but has a substantial work track record of running major financial matters, so a bit different from upper class Londoner and Chancellor George Osborne who simply read Modern History at Oxford (just a lowly 2.1 degree) and only worked on a newspaper outside politics – expect some verbal fireworks across the Despatch Table, eh?
Hillary Benn retained his existing top job as shadow Foreign Secretary – no real surprise there then, as he is another left-winger whose father was a close friend and icon of Corbyn.
In a so called ‘unifying’ move, serial leadership challenger Andy Burnham was rewarded for being a good loser with being appointed shadow Home Secretary – a step up from Health – so his career aspirations can continue, but for how long?
Another who has retained his position is Scot Lord Falconer at shadow Justice, which might surprise many as he is an ex-flatmate of Tony Blair (and indeed given the peerage by him) and was given his first government job by him nigh on twenty years ago – so hardly a left winger, eh?
Owen Smith has improved from being a newcomer Wales shadow (appointed by Miliband) to shadow Work & Pensions allotted under Corbyn – so another broad church selection?
On the shadow Defence portfolio, it was finally given to experienced, so should have known better, Marta Eagle after Corbyn struggled to get the more obvious candidates to take his poisoned chalice, given his strong views and intention to sideline the UK’s role. At least her very credible twin sister Angela Eagle did a bit better in getting Business (when she had hoped for Chancellor?) with the First Secretary’s role thrown in as well – so she will stand-in for Corbyn at PMQs to pretend women haven’t lost out in the reshuffle?
A brand new frontbencher is Heidi Alexander as shadow Health but she is known as a enthusiastic fighter for health services and was a close co-worker with previous Health secretary Andy Burnham
Taking shadow Local Government, Jon Trickett certainly got a big reward with his first frontbench role, for nominating Corbyn, though he himself is not seen as a lefty.
[The credibility of the new shadow cabinet will only become apparent over the next six months – should be a good sceptical though, eh?]