Wigan’s Lisa Nandy has always been a staunch campaigner for the towns of the North West. With the emphasis always on cities, she pointed out the community spirit in her area that could achieve so much more with a leg up from government.
But she has been messed about by Sir Keir Starmer. The Labour leader made her Shadow Foreign Secretary, which was not her forte. Then he got it right, Housing, Communities and Levelling Up was right up her street. Now she has been moved back to the Foreign Office, but in a junior role to the Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy.
Views differ on how big a demotion it is. International Development is important in a world of conflict and refugees, but Starmer clearly felt Nandy lacked the heft in the big job facing one of the Tories best performers, Michael Gove. It has been suggested that Nandy is a victim of a purge of the left. If so, she wore those credentials lightly.
The truth probably is that Starmer wanted to kill two birds with one stone. Firstly, satisfy the ambition of Angela Rayner and secondly use her attack dog talents on the hot political topics of housing and devolution.
Whether giving the Ashton MP an even higher profile is wise, remains to be seen. She is a bit of a marmite character with voters. Whilst we need politicians who have similar lifestyles to us, her recent confession about going on a holiday bender and serving a fearsome cocktail called Venom, is hardly what we want in the person who shortly is likely to be the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Lucy Powell (Manchester Central) lost her Shadow Cabinet position but will still have a high profile as Shadow Leader of the Commons. The departure of Jim McMahon from his post as Shadow Environment Secretary is a sad affair. The former able leader of Oldham Council has had health problems. But in his letter thanking him for his service, Starmer referred to the abuse and violent threats Jim had received. This is an ugly and growing problem. We will drive many good people out of public office unless it stops.
There were some good appointments in the Shadow team that looks likely to take Labour up to the election. Hilary Benn’s ability was badly needed and Darren Jones, the new Shadow Chief Secretary was a formidable inquisitor as chair of the Business Select Committee.
Jonny Reynolds (Stalybridge and Hyde) will continue his effective work shadowing Business whilst Pat McFadden who’s been advising Labour leaders since John Smith’s time, will coordinate Labour’s election campaign.
POTTY MOUTH KEEGAN
The Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has not had a good week. I can live with her exasperation over crumbling concrete but to do a government video on the subject with a music bed was horrendous. If she gets some better media advisers, Keegan (who was brought up in Knowsley) could still be a good bet for Tory leader one day.
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