Brides-Ed Revisited: Labour’s Gene Pool Problem

“The last Labour leadership challenge was a battle between brothers,” writes Tim Stanley. “The shadow chancellor is married to the shadow home secretary – a former leadership candidate wedded to a future one. The deputy leader is married to the shadow minister for communities and local government. The shadow secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs is sister of the shadow leader of the House of Commons.”

And when they’re not related or sleeping with one another, they all come from the same narrow educational gene pool:

Ed Miliband: PPE, Corpus Christi College, Oxford
David Miliband: PPE, Corpus Christi College, Oxford
Angela Eagle: PPE, St John’s College, Oxford
Maria Eagle: PPE, Pembroke College, Oxford
Ed Balls: PPE, Keble College, Oxford
Yvette Cooper: PPE, Balliol College, Oxford

Guido supposes the fact that Harriet Harman only made it to York after St Pauls is why Labour feel they can get on their high horse about the make up of their Shadow Cabinet.

Shadow Cabinet in Full

A first look at that 2015 winning team:

Chuka is missing. Obviously he wouldn’t be seen dead with this ‘trash’. But where’s Lord Wood?

That Shadow Cabinet Support in Full

The defence of Ed so far has consisted of MPs saying the leader can’t do it all alone and needs support from his team. So just where are the Shadow Cabinet, and what have they been doing to help their leader during his summer woes? A co-conspirator passes Guido this list:

Ed Miliband – hasn’t tweeted since 22 July
Ed Balls – hasn’t tweeted since 26 July
Yvette Cooper – hasn’t tweeted since 27 July
Hilary Benn – hasn’t tweeted since 24 July
Angela Eagle – hasn’t tweeted since 27 July
Liam Byrne – hasn’t tweeted since 26 July
Michael Dugher – hasn’t tweeted since 30 July

Call in the support… hello? Anyone…

Wee Dougie’s New Number Watcher

Eyebrows have been raised by the replacement Douglas Alexander has chosen for his departed spinner Steve Van Riel. You would have thought that as shadow Foreign Secretary he would have brought someone in with some actual foreign policy experience, but instead the one time campaign manager to David Miliband has chosen Michelle Napchan. She’s a pollster…

Officially the line is that Napchan will be helping to craft Labour’s message by focus grouping on issues like Europe. However, given that Wee Dougie was one of the few figures able to flit between the Blairites and the Brownites, he is a key unity figure in Ed’s Shadow Cabinet and the slightest hint that he is on manoeuvres gets people talking. One Labour spinny-type suggests that he has studied how Brown did things from the shadows: “he’s building his own private operation, his own army”.  Another Labour source was not so sure though: “The only army I see Douglas Alexander building is one with Action Men”. If there is ever a move against Ed, Guido would put good money on the “unity” man being involved

Lebedev Links Lost Bryant Shad Cab Role
Labour Unease at Billionaire Buddies

When Chris Bryant took his column at the Indy back in September, we wrote:

“Coincidentally Chris is a friend of Lebedev’s son Evgeny and was at a recent dinner party with the oligarch’s offspring. Evgeny “speaks regularly” to Chris Blackhurst, no doubt about the weather…”

When we pointed out yesterday that Bryant was not declaring an interest when speaking on Russian matters, despite the £14,000 he has got so far in this deal, we seem to have struck a nerve. Hardly a surprise when Labour insiders have already expressed concern. One described it to Guido as “an extraordinarily close relationship to a newspaper proprietor, if you look at anything he says about anyone else.” The loss making Indy is entirely subsidised financially by the Russian oligarch.

One theory in Labour circles is that the reason Bryant missed out on a Shadow Cabinet position was because of the Lebedev-Moscow connection. Those that work with him point out he is articulate and capable, and anyone who has had the pleasure of being attacked by Bryant would not question his campaigning skills. He was widely tipped for the top team in the October 2011 Shadow Cabinet reshuffle, yet mysteriously – a month after signing up for the Indy’s Moscow gold – he remains out in the cold.

Tom Watson’s influence has grown under Ed Miliband’s weak leadership, for instance Watson keeps a tight grip on vital areas such as candidate selection. It is no secret that there is no love lost between him and Bryant and it’s said “they never really got on”, despite their work on the phone hacking scandal. Bryant refused to answer our questions when we put it directly to him earlier that Watson has expressed concern about the Lebedev connection directly to him. Curiouser and curiouser…

UPDATE:  Bryant has got in touch to deny any pressure from Watson. Guido has sent follow up questions…

Ed’s Lack of Shadow Cabinet Authority

Ed is having a relatively good week, with more amusement and less despair. Labour staffers however are decrying that the Shadow Cabinet is out of control and rudderless. Douglas Alexander’s “Labour must do more to be credible on economy” Observer interview last Sunday came at as surprise. Jim Murphy going rogue had to be patched up as “part of the strategy”, while it’s accepted that Liam Byrne is spending his days briefing the Telegraph. Peter Hain even had time to write his memoirs while supposedly preparing to form a government. 

This lack of authority in Shadow Cabinet is trickling down to the backbenchers, not least the most important Labour backbencher of them all – David Miliband. There is growing frustration amongst Labour whips that David  is simply ignoring direct orders on voting.  He’s said he will not be dictated to, and he will decide when he is needed. Take today for example; instead of being in Westminster David is peacocking at the Cambridge Union; and the voting data from Public Whip is very telling. Since the election David has voted in just 186 votes out of a possible 444. Less than half and well below average. 

The insubordination is spreading. Labour sources indicate that the likes of Ben Bradshaw and Shaun Woodward are particularly good at not hanging around for late votes or simply not bothering to turn up. Junkets are up, and attendance is down. The mood among the old guard can be summed up as “if the brother can ‘eff off to China, why can’t we?”

Reshuffle Feather Ruffle

So far we know that Ann McKechin, John Healey, John Denham and Shaun Woodward are out. Ivan Lewis thoroughly deserves his new job sitting in Easyjet departure lounges begging for meetings with international players having been demoted to Shadow DFID brief. Angela Eagle replaces Benn as Shadow Leader of the House. Burnham has been given his old health brief back. Chuka looks favourite to replace Denham in Business and Rachel Reeves to replace Eagle. Thirsty Stephen Twigg has also been promoted to Shadow Education and Michael Dugher is going somewhere.  There is talk of up to six 2010 intakers getting a job.

However it’s not just the uninspiring MPs that are playing musical chairs this morning, the Special Advisers are also sweating it out, waiting to see if they will weaned off of the short-money teet. John Healey’s spinner Ian Parker isn’t very happy, he took to Twitter in the wee hours to lash out at his colleagues:


Shred Ed: Miliband Sacks Old Guard

Ed Miliband’s reshuffle is well under-way and he’s sacked one of the few former Labour Ministers to back him in the leadership contest. John Denham, who is said to have helped Ed craft the “good business/bad business” section of his conference speech that saw him so ridiculed, has been given the chop. To add to the humiliation, Denham will become the unpaid PPS to the leader, which means the former Brown spinner Michael Dugher is definitely is going up.

It wouldn’t be a reshuffle without someone quitting to “spend more time with their family”, so step forward please John Healey. The invisible Shadow Health Secretary was allegedly offered a lesser job, but decided to walk instead. Ed has gushed during the exchange of letters a little too much for this to have been anything other than a sacking. There’s an hilarious rumour doing the rounds that Caroline Flint will be given this poisoned chalice. Lansley will be shaking in his boots, and Burnham would be the obvious choice…

Elsewhere David Miliband, the man that quit to spend less time with his family, is not expected to return, though there is some speculation that Alan Johnson might be ready to put his head back above the parapet. As predicted here Meg Hillier is set to go, and Ann McKechin was spotted yesterday afternoon looking sad. There will hardly be tears shed if Shaun Woodward is put out to pasture. Plenty of room for those long tipped 2010 intakers to ruin their careers and jump on Ed’s sinking ship…

UPDATE: The BBC is tipping Gloria to take over from Ivan Lewis.

Red Ed Reshuffle Rumour: “It’s Tomorrow”

Paul Waugh tweets that Angela Eagle is to be moved to the non-job that is Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary with former Lloyds banker Rachel Reeves taking over as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Presumably this would mean […]


Reshuffle Rumours, Runners and Riders
McKechin, Hillier and Flint in Trouble

The one good thing Ed has got out of this conference is an end to the Shadow Cabinet elections. He can now clear out the rot and he has more than his fair share of underwhelming baggage. Hilary Benn, Meg […]


Ed’s ShadCab Shake Up

The benefits of scrapping Shadow Cabinet elections are endless, for Miliband at least. The public look set to be deprived of the bi-yearly bun-fight that takes patronage out of the hands of the leader. Miliband has found himself forced to […]


The Return of the King

Andrew Grice suggests this morning that David Miliband is mulling over a surprise return to the frontbench. “Friends” have suggested:

“…there is a debate going on. Some people are arguing that it would be better to be a team player



Tip offs: 0709 284 0531

Quote of the Day

Lord Sugar on Jeremy Corbyn:

“If they ever got anywhere near electing him and him being the Prime Minister then I think we should all move to China or somewhere like that and let this place just rot.”

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