5 women Ed Miliband could put in the Shadow Cabinet

12th June, 2013 11:31 am

That Ed Miliband is planning a Shadow Cabinet reshuffle in the coming months is hardly a secret – I wrote about the plans back in February. But we should also remember that Miliband has in the past expressed a desire to have a gender balanced Shadow Cabinet – something we don’t have at present. That’s going to mean Ed Miliband needs to promote several women this year. There are many who are up to the task, but I’ve picked out five – all from the 2010 intake – who could find themselves drafted into Ed Miliband’s top tier this year:

Stella Creasy – this one almost seems like a no-brainer, so often is Creasy tipped for a promotion that seems certain to come before the next election, but the case is still worth putting. Stella has been a powerful advocate from the backbenches for cracking down on payday lenders, has developed a strong media profile (and social media profile), and has a following in the party too – being voted our 2012 MP of the year. She’s an obvious candidate for a crack at the Shadow Cabinet – and could even be an outsider for London Mayor in 2015. I’ve argued alongside and against Stella before – I know which, by far, is easier.

Kate Green – the Stretford and Urmston MP has such a wealth of experience and self-assurance, it’s hard to remember that she’s only been an MP for three years. As a former head of the Child Poverty Action Group, Green knows her way around complex policy detail and has written thoughtfully about what a revived contributory principle might look like. At a time when people are often cynical about MPs who haven’t had real world experience, Ed Miliband could do worse than promoting Green, who made a difference outside Parliament, and then got elected to try and make a difference inside parliament too.

Lisa Nandy – former LabourList columnist Lisa Nandy spent her first day as an MP in Jon Cruddas’s office with Chuka Umunna, but whilst those two have both been brought into the Shadow Cabinet by Ed Miliband, Nandy’s rise has been slower. She’s undeniably on the Left of the party, but has shown whilst working under Stephen Twigg on Labour’s education team that she can work with MPs of all stripes.

Chi Onwurah – an MP from a science background? They’re hardly ten a penny. Chi Onwurah is an MP who could add some more academic rigour to the Shadow Cabinet, and has already shown a willingness to tackle difficult subjects – such as this post-PRISM piece on digital government – in her Shadow Cabinet Office role. She’s not always amongst the most talked about of the 2010 intake, but she’s highly thought of – and in a Shadow Cabinet that is overwhelmingly white and male, she’d be a welcome addition. Plus, adding Geordie Onwurah to the Shadow Cabinet eg would address the lack of North East MPs at the top table too.

Alison McGovern – if you want to earn your stripes in the Labour Party, go and be a whip. And Alison McGovern has spent the last few months working as a whip. Yet she’s also found time to fight in favour of occasionally maligned tax credits and build up a reputation as a smart, honest, thoughtful campaigning MP. She also, in the parlance of our time, “speaks human”.

  • Redshift1

    Get Lisa Nandy promoted!

  • AlanGiles

    I am sure there are at least 5 mediocre male members of the shadow cabinet who could be removed with no hardship whatsoever

  • aracataca

    Stella Creasey for me- a PhD and a heroic fight against payday loan sharks on her CV but I guess like many people I would like to see more women (and men) from working class backgrounds in the shadow cabinet.

    • http://twitter.com/waterwards dave stone

      “I would like to see more women (and men) from working class backgrounds in the shadow cabinet.”

      But first they’ll need to get into Parliament.

      • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.blott Matthew Blott

        To be fair Chi Onwurah ticks that box. And amazingly she has actually had a proper job in her past life!

  • Carolekins

    Apart from all the very good arguments for each of these women individually, you only have to look at the Tory benches to see what a coup it would be to have so many good women in the shadow cabinet. I’d also like to put in a word for our great City of Durham MP, Roberta Blackman Woods. She has been a doughty fighter for all sorts of worthy causes, never lets up, and commands widespread respect among voters of all parties.

  • Andrew Fisher

    I’d also add Teresa Pearce, from the 2010 intake – she’s been excellent on both the Treasury and Work & Pensions select committees

  • althejazz

    While we’re at it a replacement for Ed Balls ought to be on the cards – a female chancellor of the exchequer would be a great idea.

  • BusyBeeBuzz

    I am a great admirer of Stella Creasy and Lisa Nandy. We certainly need more women in the Cabinet. I think it might be a good idea to attract more women human rights lawyers to become MPs. Some of the men in the Cabinet have a woeful lack of knowledge about human rights legislation and the Rule of Law.

  • DanFilson

    Being able to “spreak human” is an important skill and in rare supply at the moment.

  • David Lindsay

    Pat Glass.

    If she is not too much use where she is.

  • Mike Homfray

    Lisa, Chi and Kate without a doubt. All have expertise we could do with

  • NT86

    I’m glad you mentioned Chi Onwurah. This is a woman who’s got an impeccable pre-politics career behind her. She’s from an engineering background, something which relatively few current MP’s can boast of. It’s almost a shame that she’s been overlooked since entering Commons in 2010. Her experience and expertise would suit the Shadow Business Secretary brief very well. I’m sure she’d be a great advocate for hi-tech manufacturing in the regions of high unemployment like the North East.

    • rekrab

      Then she wouldn’t have a problem when it came to voting to protect the right for workers to receive at least the minimum wage? Would she!

      • DanFilson

        Implying what -that she didn’t?

  • Monkey_Bach

    Isn’t Chi Onwurah an engineer rather than a scientist? Not that I’m bothered as long as the lady ain’t yet another p*ss poor PPE graduate to add to the waxwork collection!


  • Alexwilliamz

    get them all in. I’m sure messrs Twigg and Byrne would be only to willing to stand down and let the quality through for the good of the party.

  • rekrab

    How did Stella vote on the workfare bill?
    You can speak at length about protecting the poor but you must follow through when the vote comes around.

  • rekrab

    Indeed, how did Kate, Lisa, Chi and Allison vote on the workfare bill?

  • swatnan

    All 5 highly deserve promotion; some of the present ShadCab are pretty burnt out, jaded and looking the worse for wear.

  • RAnjeh

    Stella Creasy must be in the shadow cabinet – that is a must. Others on the list, I wouldn’t.. maybe Alison McGovern once she’s become a shadow minister. Hazel Blears should come back to help Jon Cruddas. Gloria de Piero would be very good. I would have said Luciana Berger but the whole Jake Morrison thing and her below-average QT performance has led me to change my mind.
    However, we did have a 50/50 shadow cabinet in terms of gender before 2011 and Ed has rowed back on it since. Labour’s focus must be having the best team to become the Cabinet in 2015, not a box-ticking exercise. That will be bringing forward good talent and also the return of former ministers and big beasts (i.e. Alistair Darling).

    • AlanGiles

      Hazel Blears?. What a shocking reminder of the discredited past!

  • Hilary Burrage

    I’d like more (wo)men with real experience over time, of both politics and ‘real life’, ‘working class’ or not…. we must move beyond classism and ageism. There is a real experience deficit in the current shadow cabinet, and it shows. Look more closely and there are some genuine, hard-working, long-serving MPs who really know the score and have yet to have their know-how used. What a surprise that more often than we’d like it seems they’re older women, as well.


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