Saturday, 25 June 2011

Credit where credit is due

Regular readers may be shocked at this, but I just want to register my approval - no, my delight - at reports that Ed Miliband wants to dump the odd tradition of Shadow Cabinet elections, which allow MPs to vote for who they want to see at the top table. For years they have been a way of a certain number of politicians of doubtful competence making it to public prominence for no other reason than they can muster support amongst their MP colleagues. In the old days, it usually gave members of the parliamentary awkward squad ample opportunity to embarrass the party and try to ensure it never made into government, although the PLP is nowadays a little more sedate.

I don't know of any other Western political party which deliberately narrows the talent pool available to a party leader when in opposition. It's precisely when they need access to all the talent they can get. Neither is the system consistent, as leaders are allowed to select the Cabinet when in government (if they ever get there, that is). For those who think this hurts party democracy, the obvious answer is that party leaders are much better positioned than backbenchers to decide who is or isn't a decent administrator. You elect a leader: let them lead.

It's also a bold move - not quite Clause Four, but bold nevertheless - and shows him to be able to be pushing against the comfort zone. We need a lot more of these.

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