Ed Miliband has done some great work today putting together a line-up for the Shadow Cabinet which has garnered plaudits from across the party and outside it too. The prominence given to MPs from the 2010 intake is exactly right and, as Ed said himself, provides evidence of the talent Labour has available to fight the Tories and lead the country after the next General Election and well beyond.
It is especially gratifying to see Rachel Reeves elevated to Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury – Rachel was Labour Teachers’ first guest speaker at our NUT fringe meeting this year, and she gave an incredibly accomplished performance on her own brief of pensions as well as much else. Personable and fiercely bright, keen to listen but well able to fight her corner, she will be an excellent foil for Danny Alexander.
Of particular interest to all teachers in the Labour Party will be the change at Education: Andy Burnham is moving to take up the Shadow Health brief. This is great news for Labour and the NHS – I was in the hall for Andy’s speech on Health at the 2010 Labour Party Conference in his closing days shadowing his old government role, and his passion for all the NHS has been and his ambition for an ever more impressive future shone through. Since then, Andy has done great service to the party in the Education role – when we founded Labour Teachers, his support was total and his encouragement crucial. He absolutely believes in engaging constructively with the teaching profession even where he disagrees, and his willingness to share his ideas and listen to ours was fantastic. In particular, his commitment to vocational education and his insistence that Labour should make the policy running on that issue was a vital and necessary shot in the arm for the party which will live on.
Stephen Twigg, our new Shadow Education Secretary, is of course the starring figure the 1997 election re-collections of everyone I know, and it is with real relish that I look forward to him demolishing another smug, over-promoted Tory in the form of Michael Gove. In particular, Stephen’s own experience as Minister for School Standards should give him plenty of ammunition to defend Labour’s excellent record in education and help the party make clear that we are the real champions of worthwhile education reform.
Good luck to all of them, and to all the new Shadow Cabinet!