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The Angry Men

Jean McNicol: Harriet Harman, 14 December 2017

A Woman’s Work 
by Harriet Harman.
Allen Lane, 405 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 0 241 27494 1
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The Women Who Shaped Politics 
by Sophy Ridge.
Coronet, 295 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 4736 3876 1
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... the decade from 1983 until 1992, when Neil Kinnock was party leader, the only female member of the shadow cabinet was Jo Richardson – as minister for women, inevitably. In 1990 the rules were changed: MPs now had to vote for at least three women in shadow cabinet elections. Harman says male MPs called this the ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: Tony and Jeremy, 20 April 2017

... afterglow of heroic defeat, ‘with all the media against us, the most violent attacks by the shadow cabinet, the full intervention of Michael, the abstention of a group of Tribune Group MPs’. That Kinnock was one of those MPs allowed Benn to nurse a grievance that sustained him for the next decade or more. To lose by just 0.8 per cent of the total ...

The Thief and the Trousers

Owen Bennett-Jones: John Stonehouse disappears, 21 April 2022

Stonehouse: Cabinet Minister, Fraudster, Spy 
by Julian Hayes.
Robinson, 384 pp., £25, July 2021, 978 1 4721 4654 0
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John Stonehouse, My Father: The True Story of the Runaway MP 
by Julia Stonehouse.
Icon, 384 pp., £10.99, May, 978 1 78578 819 2
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... against him. Even so, after Wilson lost the 1970 election, Stonehouse was quietly dropped from the shadow cabinet. Ten years later, with Thatcher in power, a second Czechoslovak defector said that Stonehouse had been a paid agent from 1962 onwards, and that as parliamentary secretary at the Ministry of Aviation between 1964 and 1967 he had supplied ...

Long March

Martin Pugh, 2 June 1983

Renewal: Labour’s Britain in the 1980s 
by Shadow Cabinet, edited by Gerald Kaufman.
Penguin, 201 pp., £2.50, April 1983, 0 14 052351 0
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Socialism in a Cold Climate 
edited by John Griffith.
Allen and Unwin, 230 pp., £2.95, April 1983, 9780043350508
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Liberal Party Politics 
edited by Vernon Bogdanor.
Oxford, 302 pp., £17.50, April 1983, 0 19 827465 3
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... that time is apt to run out rather suddenly for them. No doubt when the 20 members of Labour’s Shadow Cabinet planned the essays in Renewal they expected them to thicken the political debate during the six to nine months run-up to a general election. As it is, they have been overtaken by events: shortly we shall have the more clipped and precise ...
... in question holds a powerful position within the ANC and is spoken of by some as a possible future cabinet minister: in that sense his world is hardly collapsing. But his case exemplifies the strange paradox of the SACP, a paradox which has become all the sharper in the wake of recent events in the USSR. On the one hand, the Party is a relic, displaying the ...

The Anti-Candidate

Ross McKibbin: Jeremy Corbyn, 8 October 2015

... the job. George Lansbury and Michael Foot, the former Labour leaders he most resembles, had been cabinet ministers; Foot was Callaghan’s deputy in the 1976-79 government. Corbyn’s lack of conventional qualifications, however, is the reason he won. He was in a sense an anti-candidate: he exposed the emptiness of the conventionally qualified. That Andy ...

After Hartlepool

James Butler, 3 June 2021

... Commentators slotted these events into their pre-prepared explanations, blaming them on the long shadow of Corbyn, or his absence; on inept and patronising flag-waving, or the capture of Labour by decadent metropolitans. Others argued that the volatility of recent years has simply masked the longer-term decline of the Labour vote since 2001. Whatever the ...

Bevan’s Boy

R.W. Johnson, 24 March 1994

Michael Foot 
by Mervyn Jones.
Gollancz, 570 pp., £20, March 1994, 0 575 05197 3
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... happier to stay out. Accordingly, it was only in 1970, at the age of 57, that Foot entered the Shadow Cabinet and only in the years between 1974 and 1979 that he held government office. It was not a happy period: at last he had made his peace with political reality, but his judgment remained far too soft and he was easily pushed around by the ...

A Falklands Polemic

Tam Dalyell, 20 May 1982

... seats down, could have had a decisive influence on events. Without the imprimatur of the Labour Shadow Cabinet, and against the backcloth of a disunited nation, a task force could not have been proposed. Yet Labour had appeared to signal green, before there had been an opportunity for reflection within the ...

Short Cuts

Peter Geoghegan: On Greensill, 6 May 2021

... enjoyed privileged access to Westminster, at first personally and then by means of former cabinet ministers and senior civil servants who were paid to plead on his behalf. The diaphanous, ineffectual reforms to lobbying regulation that Cameron introduced in 2014 are part of the problem, but the rot affecting standards in British public life goes much ...

Short Cuts

Chris Mullin: Michael Foot, 25 March 2010

... Standard and, in due course, the paper’s editor. By 1940 with Beaverbrook a member of the war cabinet, the ideological gap between proprietor and his young protégé temporarily narrowed. In 1945 Foot was swept into Parliament, representing his home town of Plymouth, as part of the great Labour landslide and so began, with a short intermission after he ...

After the May Day Flood

Seumas Milne, 5 June 1997

... Wilsonian, spread of appointments. Part of that reflected the material Blair was bequeathed by Shadow Cabinet elections – and party rules requiring him to use it. Although the Labour leader has not shown himself to be squeamish about dispensing with such footling restrictions, left-of-centre figures such as Cook, John Prescott, Margaret Beckett and ...

I am a classical scholar, and you are not

Peter Clarke: Enoch Powell, 7 March 2013

Enoch at 100: A Re-evaluation of the Life, Politics and Philosophy of Enoch Powell 
edited by Lord Howard of Rising.
Biteback, 320 pp., £25, June 2012, 978 1 84954 310 1
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... Heath for the leadership in 1965, gaining the votes of only 15 MPs. But he was a member of the shadow cabinet, appointed (in Heath’s view) to speak on the defence portfolio, but (in Powell’s view) free while in opposition to range more broadly. In Birmingham, and not for the first time, Powell chose to speak on race relations. He begins in a ...
Possible Dreams: A Personal History of the British Christian Socialists 
by Chris Bryant.
Hodder, 351 pp., £25, July 1996, 0 340 64201 7
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... of them’. Tony Blair is ‘one of them’. And so are Chris Smith and Jack Straw and half the Shadow Cabinet and many more on the backbenches including Frank Field, that one-man think-tank of the Labour Right. ‘They’ are the Christian socialists, architects of New Labour, ready to provide the movement with the ethical foundations which seem ...

Off with her head

John Lloyd, 24 November 1988

Office without Power: Diaries 1968-72 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 562 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 09 173647 1
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... to worker rights and social justice. ‘You might be interested to see,’ he records saying to a Shadow Cabinet meeting on 31 July 1971, ‘the address on which my father’ – William Wedgwood Benn, a Liberal, then Labour MP, created Viscount Stansgate in 1941 – ‘fought the election in 1906: cheap food, reform and prosperity for the Port of ...

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