29 September 2015

With Jeremy Corbyn’s first Labour conference as leader underway in Brighton, Emily Andrews and Gavin Freeguard look at his new frontbench team.

Eight new Shadow Secretaries of State have not previously served – including the new leader. 1 Shad Cab moves In our previous post, we wondered what Labour’s new frontbench team would look like – we now have some answers. Three out of 19 shadow secretaries of state are in the same post as before (Benn at FCO, Falconer at MoJ, Murray at the Scotland Office), while six have moved to new roles within the Shadow Cabinet. Tom Watson, Angela Eagle and Jon Trickett all served in the Shadow Cabinet under Ed Miliband. Andy Burnham, Lord Falconer and Hilary Benn held Cabinet jobs in government. This leaves eight shadow secretaries of state – including new leader Jeremy Corbyn – who are brand new to the Shadow Cabinet. Of the total of 31 people who will be attending Corbyn’s Cabinet – not just the shadow secretaries of state – 16 of them were in the Shadow Cabinet at the time of the election, or under Harriet Harmon’s interim leadership. By way of comparison, following his first ‘free choice’ Shadow Cabinet reshuffle in 2011, 14 of the 31 attendees of Ed Miliband’s Cabinet had served under Gordon Brown. 64% of Shadow frontbench positions have been filled by someone new, although almost all the Shadow teams have retained at least one member from before the leadership election. 2 Turnover shadow frontbench September 2015 Altogether there are 118 people on the new frontbench including shadow secretaries of state, shadow junior ministers, and whips. These 118 people hold 143 different jobs between them. Nearly two-thirds of these positions (92 out of 143, or 64%) have been filled by someone new – meaning that 36% of the shadow frontbench remains the same. Of course, this doesn’t mean all of them are new to the frontbench – overall, 36% of shadow ministers (42 people) were not on the frontbench before Corbyn’s reshuffle, but some of these (such as Emily Thornberry, now a shadow employment minister having resigned as Shadow Attorney General in 2014) served previously. Lillian Greenwood, the new Shadow Transport Secretary and Nia Griffith, the new Shadow Welsh Secretary, have both been promoted from junior positions in their teams. Vernon Coaker, the new Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, previously held that position under Ed Miliband before moving to Defence. Other than these exceptions, everyone with a new role on the frontbench is also new to the policy team. Only one major shadow team – Education, with six shadow ministers – is entirely new, although all three of the new shadow equalities ministers are also new. The shadow DCLG team – a large team of eight which includes three housing ministers – has six new people. On the other hand, of the six people shadowing MoJ only one – Lord Willy Bach – is new. Although Rosie Winterton remains as Chief Whip, two-thirds of the whips in the House of Commons are new to their position. This largely inexperienced team may have a tough job ahead if divisions within the Labour party begin to play out in Parliamentary votes. Over half of the people attending the Shadow Cabinet are women. Percentage of women The lack of any women shadowing the traditional great offices of state – Prime Minister, Chancellor, Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary – was much-reported at the start of the reshuffle (Corbyn’s team described this hierarchy of positions as a throwback to the nineteenth century). But overall, over half of Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet (16 out of 31) are women. Of the Labour frontbenchers shadowing the 22 ‘full’ Cabinet positions, ten (45%) are women. There are more women at every level on the Shadow frontbench than on the Government side. The Labour party has however, a much larger pool of women to choose from than the Conservatives (or indeed, any other party): 43% of Labour MPs are women, compared with 21% of Conservatives. 43% of MPs in the Shadow Cabinet were elected in 2010 or later. Shadow Cabinet by intake As we reported in our previous post, Jeremy Corbyn has been an MP since 1983. This is longer than his predecessors: Tony Blair had been an MP for eleven years before he was elected party leader; Gordon Brown for 23; and Ed Miliband for five. His longevity contrasts with the freshness of his Cabinet: 43% of the MPs in Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet (12 out of 28) entered Parliament in 2010 or later (Lucy Powell, Seema Malhotra and Jon Ashworth all entered in by-elections). By contrast, 29% (eight out of 28) of MPs in the Conservative Cabinet entered in 2010. 23% of MPs on the Labour frontbench hold a constituency in the North West. Maps Almost a quarter of the MPs on the new Shadow frontbench have a constituency in the North West of England (23 out of 100). Sixteen hold seats in Corbyn’s home of London – two more than under Ed Miliband prior to the election. The loss of 40 Labour seats in Scotland in the General Election had a big impact on the Shadow frontbench. From 22 members with a constituency outside England, there are now only 13. Ian Murray – Labour’s only remaining Scottish MP – was made Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland immediately following the election. Under Corbyn, he has been joined on the frontbench by 12 MPs from Wales: half of all Welsh Labour MPs.

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