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Ed Miliband's Cabinet

Kato

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Off the back of intermittant chat about what life is like in the Miliverse...

With shades of 1964; if in line with contemporary polling and expectations, Labour somehow ended up as the/a party of government in 2015 but still lost the seats of both Morley and Outwood and Paisley and Renfrewshire South, who would replace Ed Balls and Douglas Alexander respectively in the new cabinet?

For the sake of the 'what if', assume some confluence of factors has made a Labour minority/small majority possible, while also leading to the unexpected loss of these two seats (as per OTL). Assume also that no coalition deals are assigning Great Offices of State to any other party.


- Ed Balls - A higher vote share and more Labour seats might mean that in this ALT Morley and Outwood stays red, however 2017 saw the party gain several other marginal constituencies where it didn't even expect to be competitive and which had not even been close in 2015 (many in fact becoming bluer on 2010) while M&O remained firmly blue.

In OTL Chris Leslie replaced Balls in the Shadow Cabinet, having previously been Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Now the job he previously shadowed is seen as both deputy to the Chancellor and the second most senior minister at the Treasury; however within Cabinet itself it is a relatively junior role. Leslie's move is one that makes more sense in a party remaining in opposition - and anticipating a leadership contest and probable reshuffle within a few months anyway - than in a party entering government where someone of greater profile and seniority might be expected. Though perhaps there is a precedent.

Would another shadow cabinet figure with a more prominant brief get the promotion instead - say Chukka (Business), or Rachel Reeves (Work and Pensions)? Or would Miliband - knowing first hand of what tension between No 10 and No 11 can do - try to promote a close ally like Sadiq Khan? In OTL Khan had options when the party remained in opposition, if Labour are in government I see no reason why he wouldn't remain in national politics. Of course Khan had not previously been a member of Cabinet, or held an economic brief in the Shadow Cabinet


- Douglas Alexander - Short of a stunted SNP wave, this seat is probably falling to a young MP who may or may not achieve some prominance in the new House. In OTL Hilary Benn became the new Shadow Foreign Secretary; a Harman interim appointment who remained in position under Harman's successor. This is one I could see sticking, given Benn's OTL positive perception in the shadow role, but are there other potential candidates?


Its also worth considering that Ed Miliband has, to some extent, exceeded expections in this scenario, even allowing for these seat losses. He now has the rare opportunity to remake the core of his Cabinet almost from scratch, and probably a fair bit of political capital with which to do it.

With Labour in government, would either Balls or Alexander seek to do a full Patrick Gordon Walker and make an electoral comeback? Potentially difficult for Balls given his image, potentially impossible for Alexander with the sudden extinction of the Scottish safe seat (and a former Scottish Labour MP being forced to retreat to an English constituency is probably not the image Labour wants to put out at this time). If not a by-election, then maybe a minority government-related snappy?
 
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Milo

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In terms of Chancellor, I don't think Leslie gets it, he's too much of a Balls man and I think Ed will want someone loyal and with a similar vision. Chukka is I think too ambitious for Ed to give him the role as Ed will want either someone who backed him or with more experience. Reeves has a better chance as although shes new she did back him in 2010 and having the first female chancellor would be a good early boast for the Miliband govt. The other person to consider is Andy Burnham, same generation as Ed and the only remaining relevant 2010 leadership candidate. He's got governmental experience and has been Chief Sec to the Treasury. I think Sadiq's lack of cabinet experience will harm him though I could see him getting a cabinet post but I'd say he be eyeing the mayoral role as probably better position than any he could except in an initial Miliband cabinet. So Burnham or Reeves for me.

Foreign Sec, Benn is a good fit for the role. Its a good role to put a rival in as well if he thinks there a figure he's wants out of the country but Benn is good diplomatic figure for the role if there is none.
 

OwenM

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Burnham allegedly can't do maths, which is supposedly why Balls got it in the first place.
Word at the time on Alexander was Cooper moved back to Foreign with Khan moving up (not sure who replacing him at Justice).
 

SteveBP

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I see Reeves as Chancellor, i really can't imagine anyone else, I wouldn't be surprised to see Leslie going back down to the benches, he's not really an Miliband man is he?
 

Kato

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Reeves would be my gut instinct for Treasury, though she is on maternity leave at this point in time.

I genuinely forgot about Burnham's existance when drafting the original post. Yes, I know.

If Khan moves up to either Chancellor or FS, might Justice go to one of the 2015 intake? Sir Keir perhaps?
 

Kato

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As a follow on, I would presume that Harman at last becomes Deputy Prime Minister, and remains in the deputy leadership role for longer than a couple of months - for another full term say, or until the party returns to Opposition again, whichever comes sooner.

This Cabinet is going to have a lot of return figures with previous Cabinet or ministerial experience - more say than Cameron's first, and substantially more than Blair's first. I'd have to tally it up, but likely its on parallel with '79 or '74. That's going to be interesting when any old policy decisions from say 2007-10 come up (i.e. Windrush papers - though that of course was a civil service decision). It also means less of a generational shift, with the 2010 and 2015 intakes having to wait until a midterm reshuffle before advancement; a longer wait than their analogous OTL rises into the Shadow Cabinet.
 

Alex Richards

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As a follow on, I would presume that Harman at last becomes Deputy Prime Minister, and remains in the deputy leadership role for longer than a couple of months - for another full term say, or until the party returns to Opposition again, whichever comes sooner.

This Cabinet is going to have a lot of return figures with previous Cabinet or ministerial experience - more say than Cameron's first, and substantially more than Blair's first. I'd have to tally it up, but likely its on parallel with '79 or '74. That's going to be interesting when any old policy decisions from say 2007-10 come up (i.e. Windrush papers - though that of course was a civil service decision). It also means less of a generational shift, with the 2010 and 2015 intakes having to wait until a midterm reshuffle before advancement; a longer wait than their analogous OTL rises into the Shadow Cabinet.
I suspect what we'd see is a lot of figures returning initially, and then maybe some of them stepping down in about the middle of 2018 in order to allow some of the new blood to get experience.

Of course that depends on how Ed manages the economy and so on.
 

Stateless

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If they really wanted Balls to be Chancellor, there isn't anything stopping Labour from making him Lord Balls.
Highly irregular, excluding interim Chancellors (the Lord Chief Justice) there hasn't been a Chancellor from the Lords since 1690.
 

Thande

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Set up the DEA and make Balls head of that.
It costs a lot of political capital regardless which Miliband might be unwilling to spend - Adonis being in the news lately reminded me of how ludicrous the saga of him first coming into public view was, with Blair determined to cram him in somehow via dodgy means no matter how unenthusiastic everyone else was.
 

Kato

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Given that Balls wasn't even Miliband's first choice for Shadow Chancellor, I don't really see "Lord Balls" being a hill the new, possibly minority/coalition government would be prepared to die on. Unless the two men actually had a Cameron-Osborne or Corbyn-McDonnell level closeness to their relationship, which don't know that they had (though very happy to be corrected on this, if incorrect).
 

Lemon flavoured

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As a follow on, I would presume that Harman at last becomes Deputy Prime Minister
Im not convinced that they would bother with a DPM. Especially after the coalition. Harman would most likely be First Secretary and Lord President though, so DPM in all but name, really. And if she didnt get any other cabinet position probably Leader of the House.
 

Comisario

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Given that Balls wasn't even Miliband's first choice for Shadow Chancellor, I don't really see "Lord Balls" being a hill the new, possibly minority/coalition government would be prepared to die on. Unless the two men actually had a Cameron-Osborne or Corbyn-McDonnell level closeness to their relationship, which don't know that they had (though very happy to be corrected on this, if incorrect).
I say it's unlikely that, should Balls go down, there would be any attempt to resurrect him via a peerage. I remember some Labour figure saying that Miliband and Balls never really attempted to form a real working friendship, which exacerbated splits on policy detail and the like.
 

Kato

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I say it's unlikely that, should Balls go down, there would be any attempt to resurrect him via a peerage. I remember some Labour figure saying that Miliband and Balls never really attempted to form a real working friendship, which exacerbated splits on policy detail and the like.
This was my understanding of the situation too, but I wasn't sure if there was anything substantial to it, or whether instead it was just part of that low level muttering and quarter-arsed plotting that seemed to prevail from 2010-2015.

Is there a definitive, authoritative published account of the period yet? Not sure I can stomach reading back through Rawnsley's old columns.
 

Comisario

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This was my understanding of the situation too, but I wasn't sure if there was anything substantial to it, or whether instead it was just part of that low level muttering and quarter-arsed plotting that seemed to prevail from 2010-2015.
I think there were some substance to it, but the main arguments were all about philosophy and public relations than meaty policy issues. Balls has apparently said that he wanted Miliband to be more forthright on tackling immigration and the deficit, whilst Miliband was interested in outlining a broader economic vision (that “vision thing” that is always an issue) - as it transpired, we got a half-hearted compromise between a radical new economic plan and a list of policy targets that Labour needed to hit in order to convince the voters.

I don’t necessarily agree with Balls’ interpretation of what went wrong, but that’s partly because I’m a nasty Cruddasite who agrees that the Shadow Chancellor was still basically a Brownite obstructionist who clung onto the certainties of New Labour.

Is there a definitive, authoritative published account of the period yet? Not sure I can stomach reading back through Rawnsley's old columns.
I can’t think of any book that really does a comprehensive job at sifting through the biases and backbiting to get to the heart of the Miliband and Balls “feud”. Tim Bale’s Five-Year Mission has been recommended to me before, but I think it was published before the 2015 election and therefore can’t give a holistic retrospective on it.
 
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