Fantasy Shadow Cabinet, anyone?

Here are some brief and semi-serious suggestions for Ed M from me. Who would you like to see?

The full list of MPs standing for the shadow cabinet has been published — 49 names in all, or roughly a fifth of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).

David Miliband has wisely decided to withdraw from the front bench to avoid the media's "perpetual, distracting and destructive attempts to find division where there is none, and splits where they don't exist". Jack Dromey, former Labour Party treasurer, new MP and husband of Harriet Harman, isn't running.

But Diane Abbott, the MP for Hackney and former Labour leadership contender and PLP lefty, has put her name forward. It's a risky strategy for Diane — she came fifth in the leadership race and isn't the most popular of MPs.

But, of the names we know, here's what I'd do if I was Ed Miliband (assuming these people, below, are even elected!), with some of the jobs (and in no particular order):

Shadow deputy prime minister (new job!) — Alan Johnson

Shadow chancellor — Ed Balls

Shadow foreign secretary — Peter Hain

Shadow home secretary — Sadiq Khan

Shadow health secretary — Andy Burnham

Shadow education secretary — Yvette Cooper

Shadow defence secretary — Eric Joyce

Shadow justice secretary — John Denham

Shadow Cabinet Office minister — David Lammy

Shadow business secretary — Liam Byrne

Shadow communities secretary — Hilary Benn

Shadow work and pensions secretary — Caroline Flint

Shadow energy and climate change secretary — Douglas Alexander

Shadow international development secretary — Jim Murphy

Shadow environment secretary — Emily Thornberry

Shadow transport secretary — John Healey

This is not at all scientific, and lacks the required number of women (!).

Paul Waugh has done his own list here.

So, who would you appoint and what jobs would give them?

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn prompts Tory outrage as he blames Grenfell Tower fire on austerity

To Conservative cries of "shame on you!", the Labour leader warned that "we all pay a price in public safety" for spending cuts.

A fortnight after the Grenfell Tower fire erupted, the tragedy continues to cast a shadow over British politics. Rather than probing Theresa May on the DUP deal, Jeremy Corbyn asked a series of forensic questions on the incident, in which at least 79 people are confirmed to have died.

In the first PMQs of the new parliament, May revealed that the number of buildings that had failed fire safety tests had risen to 120 (a 100 per cent failure rate) and that the cladding used on Grenfell Tower was "non-compliant" with building regulations (Corbyn had asked whether it was "legal").

After several factual questions, the Labour leader rose to his political argument. To cries of "shame on you!" from Tory MPs, he warned that local authority cuts of 40 per cent meant "we all pay a price in public safety". Corbyn added: “What the tragedy of Grenfell Tower has exposed is the disastrous effects of austerity. The disregard for working-class communities, the terrible consequences of deregulation and cutting corners." Corbyn noted that 11,000 firefighters had been cut and that the public sector pay cap (which Labour has tabled a Queen's Speech amendment against) was hindering recruitment. "This disaster must be a wake-up call," he concluded.

But May, who fared better than many expected, had a ready retort. "The cladding of tower blocks did not start under this government, it did not start under the previous coalition governments, the cladding of tower blocks began under the Blair government," she said. “In 2005 it was a Labour government that introduced the regulatory reform fire safety order which changed the requirements to inspect a building on fire safety from the local fire authority to a 'responsible person'." In this regard, however, Corbyn's lack of frontbench experience is a virtue – no action by the last Labour government can be pinned on him. 

Whether or not the Conservatives accept the link between Grenfell and austerity, their reluctance to defend continued cuts shows an awareness of how politically vulnerable they have become (No10 has announced that the public sector pay cap is under review).

Though Tory MP Philip Davies accused May of having an "aversion" to policies "that might be popular with the public" (he demanded the abolition of the 0.7 per cent foreign aid target), there was little dissent from the backbenches – reflecting the new consensus that the Prime Minister is safe (in the absence of an attractive alternative).

And May, whose jokes sometimes fall painfully flat, was able to accuse Corbyn of saying "one thing to the many and another thing to the few" in reference to his alleged Trident comments to Glastonbury festival founder Michael Eavis. But the Labour leader, no longer looking fearfully over his shoulder, displayed his increased authority today. Though the Conservatives may jeer him, the lingering fear in Tory minds is that they and the country are on divergent paths. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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