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.