The Tyke Mafia?

A large number of Ed Miliband's inner core in the Shadow Cabinet represent Yorkshire constituencies.

Reading the list of roles of the Shadow Cabinet, what is very interesting (apart from Alan Johnson's appointment) is the number of those either from, or representing, Yorkshire constituencies.

The list is as follows:

  • Leader of the Opposition - Rt. Hon. Ed Miliband MP (Doncaster North)
  • Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer - Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP (Hull West and Hessle)
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and Minister for Women and Equalities - Rt Hon Yvette Cooper MP (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford)
  • Shadow Secretary of State for the Home Department - Rt Hon Ed Balls MP (Morley and Outwood)
  • Chief Whip - Rt Hon Rosie Winterton MP (Doncaster Central)
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Health - Rt Hon John Healey MP (Wentworth and Dearne)
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government - Rt Hon Caroline Flint MP (Don Valley)
  • Shadow Leader of the House of Commons - Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP (Leeds Central)
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - Mary Creagh MP (Wakefield)

Also attending Shadow Cabinet meetings will be the Shadow Minister of State - Cabinet Office - Jon Trickett MP (Hemsworth).

Many of these, of course, are not actually from Yorkshire - only Jon Trickett and John Healey I believe were born in Yorkshire, whilst Rosie Winterton studied at Hull University and Harriet Harman at York - but the list is surprising.

Whether this is intentional or simply reflects that many safe Labour seats are in Yorkshire, who knows. With more discretionary appointments to come there may be even more.

Mehdi Hasan recently reported that key members of Ed Miliband's campaign team were aiming to "build a ring of steel" around him. It seems that this was Yorkshire steel, perhaps.

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Grant Shapps on the campaign trail. Photo: Getty
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Grant Shapps resigns over Tory youth wing bullying scandal

The minister, formerly party chairman, has resigned over allegations of bullying and blackmail made against a Tory activist. 

Grant Shapps, who was a key figure in the Tory general election campaign, has resigned following allegations about a bullying scandal among Conservative activists.

Shapps was formerly party chairman, but was demoted to international development minister after May. His formal statement is expected shortly.

The resignation follows lurid claims about bullying and blackmail among Tory activists. One, Mark Clarke, has been accused of putting pressure on a fellow activist who complained about his behaviour to withdraw the allegation. The complainant, Elliot Johnson, later killed himself.

The junior Treasury minister Robert Halfon also revealed that he had an affair with a young activist after being warned that Clarke planned to blackmail him over the relationship. Former Tory chair Sayeedi Warsi says that she was targeted by Clarke on Twitter, where he tried to portray her as an anti-semite. 

Shapps appointed Mark Clarke to run RoadTrip 2015, where young Tory activists toured key marginals on a bus before the general election. 

Today, the Guardian published an emotional interview with the parents of 21-year-old Elliot Johnson, the activist who killed himself, in which they called for Shapps to consider his position. Ray Johnson also spoke to BBC's Newsnight:


The Johnson family claimed that Shapps and co-chair Andrew Feldman had failed to act on complaints made against Clarke. Feldman says he did not hear of the bullying claims until August. 

Asked about the case at a conference in Malta, David Cameron pointedly refused to offer Shapps his full backing, saying a statement would be released. “I think it is important that on the tragic case that took place that the coroner’s inquiry is allowed to proceed properly," he added. “I feel deeply for his parents, It is an appalling loss to suffer and that is why it is so important there is a proper coroner’s inquiry. In terms of what the Conservative party should do, there should be and there is a proper inquiry that asks all the questions as people come forward. That will take place. It is a tragic loss of a talented young life and it is not something any parent should go through and I feel for them deeply.” 

Mark Clarke denies any wrongdoing.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.