Friday, 1 July 2011

Labour's 1922 Committee

Lobbydog has learnt that as part of the reforms to be debated and voted on by Labour MPs next week, Ed Miliband is planning on setting up an equivalent to the Tories’ 1922 Committee.

The move would be made in conjunction with already reported proposals to abolish elections to the shadow cabinet.

Margaret Beckett was one of the party veterans that Miliband consulted before broaching the issue with other MPs.

She told me: “The origin of the elected shadow cabinet was that they were also the executive of the parliamentary party – but there were complaints about that system because it meant ordinary backbenchers did not have a voice to connect them to the party leadership.

“For example, if you were a backbencher unhappy with the way our education policy was going, you couldn’t go to the shadow education secretary to complain and expect him to go to the leader on your behalf.”

Beckett explained that when Labour was in Government members of the cabinet shed their role as executive of the parliamentary party and a separate executive was elected that could represent backbench voices.

She said: “If the Prime Minister has time to deal the executive when in Government, then why can’t the Leader of the Opposition do it too? Why can’t we continue in Opposition with the same structure we had in Government?

“It would mean creating a separately elected group to represent backbenchers, a bit like the 1922 Committee, separate from the shadow cabinet.

“We also had evidence about the problems elected shadow cabinets have caused – the elections tend to go with popularity which is not always the same thing as ability, sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn’t.”

The 1922 Committee equivalent will act as a sweetener to those backbenchers who feel abolishing shadow cabinet elections reduces democracy in the parliamentary party, while allowing Miliband to take control of shadow cabinet selection, cementing his power as Leader.

At the moment I get the feeling the changes will go through – particularly because there are members of the new intake who think they have ability, but not the established popularity to be in with a shout for a job under the current system.

The issue will be debated on Monday and decided at a vote of Labour MPs on Tuesday.

1 comment:

Nick said...

"Why can’t we continue in Opposition with the same structure we had in Government? It would mean creating a separately elected group to represent backbenchers, a bit like the 1922 Committee, separate from the shadow cabinet."

Well, that's a bit bizarre. The PLP voted to do exactly that back in 2010 at the same time as agreeing to continue electing the Shadow Cabinet. The Parliamentary Committee was duly elected last October. It's chaired by Tony Lloyd as PLP Chair and Valerie Vaz is the vice-chair.

Not sure quite how this has passed Margaret Beckett by, especially she was elected as the PLP rep on the Labour Party NEC at the same time as there was a by-election for the PC in January, and I think that as PLP rep she is meant to report back to them...

Post a Comment