Lammy rejects junior ministerial role

Former minister David Lammy turned down Ed Miliband's offer to serve in the shadow cabinet.

On announcing the full line-up of his shadow cabinet, Ed Miliband expressed his pride he had been able to "bring in a new generation of talent, whilst also using the experience of a broad range of Labour MPs." He went on to say:

"This is a team from all parts of the party, which will robustly hold the coalition government to account."

However, according to a source at Labour HQ, at least one MP wasn't so keen to be part of the team. Ed reportedly made a call to David Lammy to offer him a junior role, but Lammy turned him down in favour of remaining on the backbenches.

Lammy ran a concerted campaign to make it into the shadow cabinet itself, but fell short of the top 19 by some way, receiving 80 votes. With eight years of ministerial experience, he had been widely tipped to come to the fore in opposition, perhaps in work and pensions or local government.

His failure to make it to the top of the ballot will have been a disappointment, but the decision to reject the offer of a junior role is a shrewd one, and not one that can just be explained by the fact that he endorsed David for the leadership. Lammy has enough of a profile to remain a prominent player over the coming months without needing the media traction provided by a minor shadow cabinet title.

Lammy may well not have been the only one to give Ed the brush-off. Former culture minister Ben Bradshaw and former business secretary Pat McFadden are also notably absent from the full line-up, having failed, like Lammy, to attract enough support to get senior positions.

It's also likely that Lammy is biding his time, banking on the fact that this is just the first shadow cabinet of many that lie between Labour and re-election, and that he is likely to get a better offer next time. Given his support for David over Ed, he could also be looking forward to a time when a different leader will be making the phone calls.

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

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Paul Nuttall is like his party: sad, desperate and finished

The party hope if they can survive until March 2019, they will grow strong off disillusionment with Brexit. They may not make it until then. 

It’s a measure of how far Ukip have fallen that while Theresa May faced a grilling over her social care U-Turn and Jeremy Corbyn was called to account over his past, the opening sections of Andrew Neill’s interview with Paul Nuttall was about the question of whether or not his party has a future.

The blunt truth is that Ukip faces a battering in this election. They will be blown away in the seats they have put up a candidate in and have pre-emptively retreated from numerous contests across the country.

A party whose leader in Wales once said that climate change was “ridiculous” is now the victim of climate change itself. With Britain heading out of the European Union and Theresa May in Downing Street, it’s difficult to work out what the pressing question in public life to which Ukip is the answer.

Their quest for relevance isn’t helped by Paul Nuttall, who at times tonight cast an unwittingly comic figure. Pressing his case for Ukip’s burka ban, he said earnestly: “For [CCTV] to work, you have to see people’s faces.” It was if he had intended to pick up Nigel Farage’s old dogwhistle and instead put a kazoo to his lips.

Remarks that are, written down, offensive, just carried a stench of desperation. Nuttall’s policy prescriptions – a noun, a verb, and the most rancid comment underneath a Mail article – came across as a cry for attention. Small wonder that senior figures in Ukip expect Nuttall to face a move on his position, though they also expect that he will see off any attempt to remove him from his crown.

But despite his poor performance, Ukip might not be dead yet. There was a gleam of strategy amid the froth from Nuttall in the party’s pledge to oppose any continuing payment to Brussels as part of the Brexit deal, something that May and Corbyn have yet to rule out.

If May does manage to make it back to Downing Street on 8 June, the gap between campaign rhetoric – we’ll have the best Brexit, France will pay for it – and government policy – we’ll pay a one-off bill and continuing contributions if need be – will be fertile territory for Ukip, if they can survive as a going concern politically and financially, until March 2019.

On tonight’s performance, they’ll need a better centre-forward than Paul Nuttall if they are to make it that far. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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