I hear of a kerfuffle at this afternoon’s Parliamentary Labour Party meeting ahead of tomorrow’s A4 votes(that’s the length of the ballot paper) on future internal elections when Margaret Beckett spelled out the options.
My snout reported Jack Straw argued strongly the Shadow Cabinet should be appointed by the new leader, Frank Dobson that it should be fully elected. Fairly or otherwise, Jack the Lad was listened to as a voice of David Miliband and Dobbo of Ed Miliband. Interesting. The ballot will ask Labour MPs if they want to elect zero, 12 or 19 members.
If all true, what would Frank think of the way ‘The Cabinet’ is elected by his Camden Labour Group colleagues at the Town Hall, where his own political career first burgeoned? Past Labour administrations in Camden have had an elected executive – the group of ten most senior councillors who have the final say on policy – decided by internal ballots, just as Dobson on behalf of Ed Miliband apparently prescribes for Labour’s main government-biting, Shadow Cabinet.
yet since the party returned to power in Camden in May, there has been a change of tack. Gone are Labour’s internal elections for key posts. Instead, the leader has the right to shuffle the pack and appoint as he/she picks. It makes sure critical friends don’t grab pockets of power.
One former Labour executive member from Camden’s recent history has already confided their dislike for the new system and its potential for side-lining powerful – but rebellious – voices. The switch put said rebel off standing again in local elections. Dobson, it seems, would sympathise.