Virtually every Labour MP I speak to seems to be standing for the Shadow Cabinet. And if they are not standing they are being bombarded by emails, letters, leaflets and pamphlets from those who are.
In some cases, the efforts are being counter-productive: ‘Did you see the size of his picture in his leaflet?’ or ‘They were very nice pictures of her on the doorstep or speaking in the chamber, but doesn’t she realise that’s what we all do?’
Or in another instance an existing member of the Shadow Cabinet clambered over a newly-elected MP to get to a longer-established colleague, prompting the wry comment ‘He hasn’t recognised me; he doesn’t realise that I’ve got a vote too.’
One candidate has just button-holed me and explained to me (in more detail than I really wanted) how the new system for electing the Shadow Cabinet would elect a higher proportion of women than his colleagues realised when they rejected the 50% and 40% options. As he put it: the men must vote for at least six women and will have to choose between, perhaps, fifteen female candidates – so there are over 1000 votes from male MPs to share out with each woman starting with a male ‘bonus’ of 70 votes; whereas although women MPs have to vote for at least six men there will be perhaps 60 candidates chasing less than 500 votes – an average of 8 or 9 each. As a result, he predicts that maybe half the Shadow Cabinet being women as a result of this arithmetic.
Interesting, if true.