Shadow Cabinet. Who’s up, who’s down (and who should be)


  • Chris Huhne (to Home Affairs): no big surprise that Chris is one of the big winners here. Brave of Clegg to invite comparisons: if Huhne does too good a job it might be used against his predecessor in the role.
  • Ed Davey (to Foreign Affairs): an interesting move. Have never pegged Ed as a Foreign Affairs guy, although his work (with Teather) on freeing the Guantanamo Three may have given him some relevant experience. As one of the Big Three posts, this rise to prominence has taken Davey a long time. For him, I suspect it has come at almost exactly the right time.
  • Julia Goldsworthy (to Communities and Local Government): Julia has done a sterling job at getting the Sustainable Communities Act through Parliament, so this is a suitable job for her. Given the Lib Dem commitment to devolving spending as well as powers, her Shadow Treasury background is useful as well. At the same time, she doesn’t come with local government baggage. A pretty perfect match between person and post.
  • Steve Webb (to Environment): a good heavy hitter on a post that needs one. Steve has the skills to keep Lib Dem green policies in the public eye. A sensible choice.


  • Lembit Opik (from DBERR to Housing): Lembit’s role as Shadow BERR has been pretty anonymous. Nonetheless, this move could be a good thing if Lembit (a man of considerable, if squandered, talents) were to put his mind to it. Housing is one of the most important issues we face. It effects everything from immigration (good to have an Eastern European in place then!) through to the state of the economy. Here’s my challenge to you Lembit: make this a flagship issue for the Lib Dems.
  • Michael Moore (from Foreign to International Development): Moore never really got much of a look-in while Ming was leader, as most of the attention went to the leader on this issue. So effectively this isn’t much of a demotion as at least in this role he’ll be his own person.
  • Lynne Featherstone (from International Development to youth and equalities): a bit harsh as Lynne was making real inroads here, exposing the fact that the government had cut billions from the international development budget at the stroke of a pen. Should be good at her new brief, but seems a bit tokenistic.
  • Jo Swinson (from women and equalities to ???): Swinson did a good job at boosting this role’s profile, just as she did a good job as Scottish spokes. This seems like a particularly harsh, and illogical, demotion.


  • Nick Harvey (Defence): Harvey’s been doing this role for a while now, yet remains anonymous despite the fact that the military have been on the warpath on defence spending and the breaking of the “covenant”. Keeping him here is therefore a little perplexing. However, with Ming being given a special role for “conducting a full review of Britain’s future military capability” this looks rather like a demotion in disguise.
  • Don Foster (Culture): Foster has been in this role forever, yet the only time he ever comes to prominence is this time of year to complain about the number of repeats on the telly. As someone who likes repeats (if you aren’t a telly addict it gives you a chance to catch up and it is better than yet more valueless trash), I would dearly love to see us change this particular tune.
  • Jenny Willott (nothing): Most insiders agree that Willott is one of the biggest wasted talents in the Parliamentary Party. She is passed up for promotion time after time. My understanding is that this is her choice. Utterly perplexing.

UPDATE: It appears that London Young Labour have chosen to make this post the subject of a press release. Any journalists reading this should take note that Jo Swinson has never been either the party youth spokesperson or Chair of LDYS. For a full corrective, see my subsequent post.


  1. I would like to see Lynne, Jo and Jenny do well, but they all have to hold onto their seats at the next general election.
    I suspect they need more time to concentrate on that.
    I thought the exit of Paul Holmes and Andrew Stunnel was harsh, and disappointed that Evan Harris is not back in. In fairness to Evan, he may be happy where he is on the science select committee.
    The good news is that Norman Baker is back in.

  2. I don’t think either Jo, Jenny or Lynne are in particularly vulnerable seats. Cardiff Central is now a (relative) Lib Dem stronghold with us safely holding both the AM and MP and Lynne and Jo are both up against Labour next time in areas where there is little prospect of a leapfrog.

    If that were the reason for keeping them out, one would have to wonder why Sarah Teather, Jeremy Browne, David Heath and Susan Kramer are in.

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