Shadow cabinet candidates announced

The full list of candidates for the shadow cabinet with the New Statesman’s tips for who to watch.

Although overshadowed by the announcement that David Miliband has not put his name forward, the full list of candidates for the shadow cabinet has just been released by the Labour Party. Here it is:

Diane Abbott
Douglas Alexander
Ed Balls
Hilary Benn
Ben Bradshaw
Andy Burnham
Roberta Blackman-Woods
Kevin Brennan
Liam Byrne
Chris Bryant
Vernon Coaker
Yvette Cooper (Health)
Mary Creagh
Wayne David
John Denham
Angela Eagle
Maria Eagle
Rob Flello
Caroline Flint
Mike Gapes
Barry Gardiner
Helen Goodman
Peter Hain
David Hanson
Tom Harris
John Healey
Meg Hillier
Huw Irranca-Davies
Alan Johnson
Eric Joyce
Kevan Jones
Tessa Jowell
Barbara Keeley
Sadiq Khan
David Lammy (Cabinet Office)
Chris Leslie
Ivan Lewis
Ian Lucas
Pat McFadden
Fiona Mactaggart
Ann McKechin
Alun Michael
Jim Murphy (Northern Ireland)
Gareth Thomas
Emily Thornberry
Stephen Timms
Stephen Twigg (Development)
Shaun Woodward
Iain Wright

Bold denotes inclusion in the NS's round-up of the elections -- you can read James Macintyre's full runners and riders piece here.

A rough count reveals at least 15 former cabinet members. As for absences, Jack Dromey is missing, as, of course, is David Miliband.

Diane Abbott is on the list, though, and it will be interesting to watch how she fares with her fellow MPs with her newly heightened profile after the leadership contest. Even before the ballot papers went out, Ed Miliband had said: "Diane shouldn't just go back to This Week when this is over. She has a part to play." Definitely one to watch.

There are 36 men standing and 13 women. Under new rules just brought in by the Parliamentary Labour Party, six of the 19 spots available have to go to women, even if their male counterparts outpoll them. That means just under half of the women standing will end up in the shadow cabinet.

The former cabinet office-holders Yvette Cooper, Tessa Jowell and Caroline Flint will be strongly tipped to take three of the spots, but beyond that the field among the women looks wide open.

UPDATE: It is also worth noting that, following the news that Nick Brown will not be standing to retain his position to shadow chief whip, Rosie Winterton is now the only candidate for the position.

Caroline Crampton is assistant editor of the New Statesman. She writes a weekly podcast column.

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Why Barack Obama was right to release Chelsea Manning

A Presidential act of mercy is good for Manning, but also for the US.

In early 2010, a young US military intelligence analyst on an army base near Baghdad slipped a Lady Gaga CD into a computer and sang along to the music. In fact, the soldier's apparently upbeat mood hid two facts. 

First, the soldier later known as Chelsea Manning was completely alienated from army culture, and the callous way she believed it treated civilians in Iraq. And second, she was quietly erasing the music on her CDs and replacing it with files holding explosive military data, which she would release to the world via Wikileaks. 

To some, Manning is a free speech hero. To others, she is a traitor. President Barack Obama’s decision to commute her 35-year sentence before leaving office has been blasted as “outrageous” by leading Republican Paul Ryan. Other Republican critics argue Obama is rewarding an act that endangered the lives of soldiers and intelligence operatives while giving ammunition to Russia. 

They have a point. Liberals banging the drum against Russia’s leak offensive during the US election cannot simultaneously argue leaks are inherently good. 

But even if you think Manning was deeply misguided in her use of Lady Gaga CDs, there are strong reasons why we should celebrate her release. 

1. She was not judged on the public interest

Manning was motivated by what she believed to be human rights abuses in Iraq, but her public interest defence has never been tested. 

The leaks were undoubtedly of public interest. As Manning said in the podcast she recorded with Amnesty International: “When we made mistakes, planning operations, innocent people died.” 

Thanks to Manning’s leak, we also know about the Vatican hiding sex abuse scandals in Ireland, plus the UK promising to protect US interests during the Chilcot Inquiry. 

In countries such as Germany, Canada and Denmark, whistle blowers in sensitive areas can use a public interest defence. In the US, however, such a defence does not exist – meaning it is impossible for Manning to legally argue her actions were in the public good. 

2. She was deemed worse than rapists and murderers

Her sentence was out of proportion to her crime. Compare her 35-year sentence to that received by William Millay, a young police officer, also in 2013. Caught in the act of trying to sell classified documents to someone he believed was a Russian intelligence officer, he was given 16 years

According to Amnesty International: “Manning’s sentence was much longer than other members of the military convicted of charges such as murder, rape and war crimes, as well as any others who were convicted of leaking classified materials to the public.”

3. Her time in jail was particularly miserable 

Manning’s conditions in jail do nothing to dispel the idea she has been treated extraordinarily harshly. When initially placed in solitary confinement, she needed permission to do anything in her cell, even walking around to exercise. 

When she requested treatment for her gender dysphoria, the military prison’s initial response was a blanket refusal – despite the fact many civilian prisons accept the idea that trans inmates are entitled to hormones. Manning has attempted suicide several times. She finally received permission to receive gender transition surgery in 2016 after a hunger strike

4. Julian Assange can stop acting like a martyr

Internationally, Manning’s continued incarceration was likely to do more harm than good. She has said she is sorry “for hurting the US”. Her worldwide following has turned her into an icon of US hypocrisy on free speech.

Then there's the fact Wikileaks said its founder Julian Assange would agree to be extradited to the US if Manning was released. Now that Manning is months away from freedom, his excuses for staying in the Equadorian London Embassy to avoid Swedish rape allegations are somewhat feebler.  

As for the President - under whose watch Manning was prosecuted - he may be leaving his office with his legacy in peril, but with one stroke of his pen, he has changed a life. Manning, now 29, could have expected to leave prison in her late 50s. Instead, she'll be free before her 30th birthday. And perhaps the Equadorian ambassador will finally get his room back. 

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.