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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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... The trouble with timely books is that time is apt to run out rather suddenly for them. No doubt when the 20 members of Labour’s ShadowCabinet 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 ...

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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... dived into a side room. In the 1987 election 41 women were elected, 21 of them Labour. For most of the decade from 1983 until 1992, when Neil Kinnock was party leader, the only female member of the shadowcabinet 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 shadowcabinet elections. Harman says male MPs called ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: Tony and Jeremy

19 April 2017
... of defeating Denis Healey. ‘It has been a staggering result,’ he wrote in his diary in the immediate afterglow of heroic defeat, ‘with all the media against us, the most violent attacks by the shadowcabinet, 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 ...

The Anti-Candidate

Ross McKibbin: Jeremy Corbyn

7 October 2015
... party political history. Corbyn is probably unique in his lack of conventional qualifications for 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 ...
24 October 1991
... replied. ‘You know – clinging onto his collapsing world view as best he can.’ The man 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 ...

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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... left Foot out of his government in 1964 and by the time he relented, Rhodesia and Vietnam made Foot happier to stay out. Accordingly, it was only in 1970, at the age of 57, that Foot entered the ShadowCabinet 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 ...
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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... Relations Bill, to which the Conservatives, led by Edward Heath, were opposed. Powell had stood against Heath for the leadership in 1965, gaining the votes of only 15 MPs. But he was a member of the shadowcabinet, 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 ...

Short Cuts

Chris Mullin: Michael Foot

25 March 2010
... was not above employing radical young journalists and Foot became a leader writer on the Evening 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 ...
20 May 1982
... strong measures. Ironically, this is one of those rare occasions when an Opposition, 50 Parliamentary seats down, could have had a decisive influence on events. Without the imprimatur of the Labour ShadowCabinet, 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 ...
5 June 1997
... since the First World War, seemed to bear out such impressions. So did the unexpectedly broad, almost Wilsonian, spread of appointments. Part of that reflected the material Blair was bequeathed by ShadowCabinet 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 ...

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Philippa Hetherington: Canberra’s Coups

27 September 2018
... party in the House of Representatives forms the government and introduces new legislation. There is a leader of the opposition, usually the leader of the largest party outside the government, and a shadowcabinet. There is an upper house, the Senate, which resembles an elected House of Lords, but has more powers. And, of course, the queen is the head of state. The six states – the former autonomous ...
21 November 1985
Carrington: A Life and a Policy 
by Patrick Cosgrave.
Dent, 182 pp., £10.95, October 1985, 0 460 04691 8
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Thatcher: The First Term 
by Patrick Cosgrave.
Bodley Head, 240 pp., £9.95, June 1985, 0 370 30602 3
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Viva Britannia: Mrs Thatcher’s Britain 
by Paolo Filo della Torre.
Sidgwick, 101 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 283 99143 7
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... complaint. The authoritarian nature of the Party, dented only by the decision to elect its leader in the first place, manifests itself in the power of the leader (when in Opposition) to choose his shadowcabinet, and when in Downing Street, to hire and fire almost at will. This inheritance is magnified by the steadily growing power of the prime minister, no longer primus inter pares, which has been ...

We Are Many

Tom Crewe: In the Corbyn Camp

10 August 2016
... in the first place if several of his colleagues hadn’t voted for him in order to encourage ‘debate’ – one of them, Margaret Beckett, has described herself as a ‘moron’ for doing so.) His shadowcabinet, devastated by a series of staged resignations, is now a patchwork of very young MPs and very old ones, many of them doing more than one job. After 29 years in Parliament the 81-year-old Paul ...
31 October 1996
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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... John Smith was ‘one of them’. Tony Blair is ‘one of them’. And so are Chris Smith and Jack Straw and half the ShadowCabinet 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 ...
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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... fathers. From hers, she takes a dedication to work, thrift and duty; from his, he takes a dedication to worker rights and social justice. ‘You might be interested to see,’ he records saying to a ShadowCabinet 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 ...

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