Friday 3 September 2010

New MPs want new rules...

When I first heard there were Labour MPs who had suggested changing the rules on choosing the party’s shadow cabinet, I immediately assumed they would be connected to one of the leadership contender’s campaigns.

These were people, I thought, trying to smooth the way for the winning candidate to pick a shadow cabinet of their liking once they had taken the top job. But the picture emerging is different.

At the moment, once the Labour leader has been selected, the party’s MPs have internal elections to choose who should have a job at the top table.

It’s meant in the past that opposition leaders have been stuck with one or two in their shadow team whom they wouldn’t naturally choose, but who are popular with backbenchers.

But now it seems there are two groups who feel the current system is archaic and needs changing.

The first are made up of the new intake of MPs who think the current electoral system represents a popularity contest.

Presumably they believe that new individuals who are talented, but do not have a following among backbench colleagues, will get passed over.

Meanwhile the second group is made up of old hands who remember what happened last time around – i.e. that some got in that shouldn’t have, while others who deserved to did not.

In the end I can’t see backbenchers handing the power to choose the shadow cabinet to the leader.

But the dynamic of the vote, on Wednesday, could be an interesting sign of the shape of the new Parliamentary Labour Party – yet to fully emerge.

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