The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I suppose that line could be New Labour’s epitaph. However, it’s still alive and well in the party’s internal democracy. As with the leadership election rules, the system for selecting their Shadow Cabinet is well-meaning and intended to be democratic. That is a laudable ambition. It is certainly something the Conservative Party hasn’t cracked. Nevertheless, it is difficult to argue with Jack Straw that Labour’s means to this ends, when you take a step back, is frankly ‘barking mad‘.
Poor Ed. He can’t pick his own team. Instead he has to go through the next two years surrounded by a Shadow Cabinet put in place thanks to nods, winks and pushes from politicking Unions helping advise their members on where to put their 1s, 2s and 3s. Straw is convinced the quality of the opposition benches are hurt, he says:
“And what it means is that of the 18 or 19 people in shadow cabinet, probably a dozen [are] capable of being in the Cabinet, half a dozen are not[..]”
So Ed is going into battle with a couple of even dudder duds in his armoury.
The other huge issue for Ed is that when you look at the top ten in the list as finally elected – not a single one of them backed Ed as first preference. Think about that. Not one of the top ten members of his team thought he was the best man for leader.
He has his work cut out and starts handicapped by his own party rules. We should let him get on with it. As Napoleon used to nearly say “Never interrupt your enemy when he is doing a good job of defeating himself”.