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Brotherly battles

Michael Crick | 17:26 UK time, Wednesday, 28 July 2010

As the labour leadership contest boils down to a fight between the Milibands, there's increasingly speculation about who might get the other top Labour shadow posts.

In particular, what job does the winning Miliband give to his defeated brother?

I've written here before, that David Miliband might find it difficult to take a job under his younger brother, and might walk away from Westminster politics altogether. It's a view held by many other in politics, though I would add that David M couldn't really step down at once. He'd have to spend at least a year or two under his brother on the front bench. Otherwise it would look too much like slinging the toys out of the family pram.

Either Miliband risks charges of nepotism if he gives a big brother to his brother, of course. But whichever Miliband comes second will get a good vote and surely deserves a top job. Only then the compensated loser would become almost unsackable.

The Labour shadow cabinet reshuffle should be relatively easy because Alistair Darling, Jack Straw and Alan Johnson have left space by deciding to stand down from the front bench.

But would either of the Milibands make Ed Balls chancellor? It's the job Balls has wanted for years, of course, and he has run a good leadership campaign, and enjoyed a good recent 'war' in the education brief against Michael Gove. But Balls is far from universally popular among Labour MPs.

A more intriguing possibility was raised by Will Straw in a seminar I chaired at the Institute for Government last night with the Newsnight politics panel. Straw suggested that Yvette Cooper might be the new leader's best choice for shadow chancellor.

It might be difficult for her husband Ed Balls to swallow that, but Cooper has performed very well in recent months, before, during and after the election. She knows her economics, of course, and she would remind people of the shortage of senior women in David Cameron's Cabinet.

What a turn of events it would be if this autumn was to see the two coming men of the later Blair-Brown era - David Miliband and Ed Balls, leapfrogged by close members of their own families.


  • Comment number 1.


    I must have missed that. Whenever I watch Cooper in action, it is more like Tommy at his mosr garrulous. A desperate, runaway steamroller delivery of platitudes, dogma and repetition - laughable.

  • Comment number 2.

    "She would remind people of the shortage of senior women in David Cameron's Cabinet."
    An interesting but rarely pointed-out fact is there are 4 women out of 23 in David Cameron's cabinet (Theresa May, Caroline Spelman, Cheryl Gillan and Baroness Warsi), just as there were 4 women out of 23 in Gordon Brown's last cabinet (Harriet Harman, Yvette Cooper, Tessa Jowell and Baroness Royall). Plus sa change.
    Did Yvette Cooper's presence in the last government remind people then of the shortage of senior women in Gordon Brown's cabinet? It didn't seem to.

  • Comment number 3.

    'In particular, what job does the winning Miliband give to his defeated brother?'

    Food taster?

  • Comment number 4.


    Are you implying that Michael Crick is biased towards Labour or has just forgotten ? Don't forget also the dire quality of Labour's token women in the Cabinet.

  • Comment number 5.

    Diane Abbott won the studio debate on 5live by a mile...the public love she has no will be the suites again..we never really we?


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