18 July 2010

Guest Post: Shadow Scottish Secretary: who’s in the running?

A Guest Post from an old sparring partner of mine, Socialist Animal, one of the authors at Political Scrapbook, with a Labour-eye view of who the runners and riders are for the post of Shadow Scottish Secretary once the dust has settled and the Labour Party has a permanent Leader. I'll be producing my own thoughts on the parties' Leadership structures very soon.

As though the Labour Leadership election wasn’t enough fun, shortly afterwards we’ll have the fun of shadow Cabinet elections, jostling for which is already well underway. With the Scottish elections just months away the post of Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland is likely to be a crucial one.

Naturally who gets what will depend on:

A. Who runs for Shadow Cabinet, and;

B. Who’s supporting the ultimate winner.

It’s likely that most of the candidates for Shadow Cabinet will be either present or former front-benchers. Additionally the leader can top-up the Shadow Cabinet with 4 others, though that number is amongst a number of rules currently being reviewed by a committee headed up by Margaret Beckett.

ALL of the present Scottish Shadow Cabinet members have been Secretary of State for Scotland and would therefore likely view the post as a demotion, which leaves people who’ve held lesser ministerial posts before. Of the David Miliband supporters these are Tom Harris, Frank Roy, David Cairns, and Anne McGuire. Ed Miliband is being supported by the immediately previous PUSS for Scotland Ann McKechin, as well as former Scottish Cabinet Minister Margaret Curran. Ed Balls is being supported by former Defence Minister Eric Joyce, while Andy Burnham is backed by former Culture Minister Tom Clarke and former Scottish Cabinet Minister Cathy Jamieson.

Assuming the victor is one of the Milibands the Shadow Secretary will likely be one of their supporters. Margaret Curran has made it known she is not interested in climbing the greasy pole so that leaves Ann McKechin in the Ed camp. However it could well also be that if Miliband junior emerges victorious then Jim Murphy (who’s managing David’s campaign) may not get the promotion he covets and be forced to stay put.

The more likely scenario however is a David Miliband victory. Tom Harris has probably burned his bridges with his blog, and David Cairns has proved a problematic front-bencher. Cairns’ stint as Minister of State for Scotland wasn’t exactly a stellar success either. Frank Roy, though privately very charming, is probably too abrasive a character to be Labour’s man in Scotland, especially with the Scottish elections just months away. That leaves Anne McGuire, who is a thoroughly likeable individual who could play well against Alex Salmond, while not over-shadowing Iain Gray in the way that Jim Murphy did. I would question whether or not McGuire would actually run for Shadow Cabinet, though Scotland could well be one of those posts that are filled by an appointed Shadow Cabinet member rather than an elected one.

So what about outsiders? Glasgow North East by-election victor Willie Bain stepped up to Shadow Transport Minister after the election, and is a Miliband supporter. Dumfries MP Russell Brown, another David Miliband supporter, is presently chair of the Scottish Labour group of MPs and is certainly an affable figure. While I can’t see Brown running for Shadow Cabinet he could potentially be another one of those appointees.

In any case with the Scottish elections coming up next year whoever the new Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland is has a big task ahead of them.


Anonymous said...

What is the point of the Post and thus, who gives a flying f&(k who has the title?

Anonymous said...

Post = Shadow Title not Blogpost

Will said...

Funnily enough, that's something I'll be musing about when I get my own stuff together: I suppose if there's a Secretary of State, Opposition convention dictates that there ought to be a Shadow Secretary of State. But if the spotlight's now turning fully onto Iain Gray from the Labour point of view, and given the fact that the Coalition's Secretaries of State appear to have left speaking for the Government to other ministers, you have a strong point.

On the other hand, it'll be interesting to see what sort of relationship they have with Gray and what impact (if any) they can make in a fairly thankless job.

Andrea said...

I was under the impression that those MPs who were elected as Select Committees members earlier this month are not supposed to stand for Shadow Cabinet elections. However there was some reported discontents about it, so it may have been changed.
If those who are now Select Committee members won't stand this fall for Shadow Cabinet, some of the names mentioned are out of the picture.

On the final choice, I guess it may also depend on who is elected overall....for ex if a Scottish MP is elected and the new leader has no other place to place him/her, he/she can end up as Scot Sec by default