Thursday, 20 October 2016

The election of Hilary Benn + Yvette Cooper to key select committees shows where key labour figures are going

Yesterday there were 4 contested select committees chosen. It was by secret ballot of all the House of Commons. My congratulations to the conservative winners Damian Collins, for culture, media and sport + Stephen Metcalfe on science and technology. Both are experts on the key subjects, good colleagues of mine, and will be superb in the job. 
But the labour selections were the really interesting ones: why? Because they show where the party is going and the view the Labour Party and Corbyn innner circle have of each other. 
- at the Home Affairs Select Committee, several former Labour heavyweights entered into the race to succeed him. Chuka Umunna had widely been tipped as the favourite,  it he flattered to deceive. In a sign of his limited popularity in the House he came a distant third, with the chairmanship going to Yvette Cooper, the former shadow home secretary. 
- Meanwhile, Hilary Benn — the former shadow foreign secretary — has been elected chair of the new Brexit select committee, winning by 330 to 209 over Leave campaigner Kate Hoey, who was clearly the Corbyn Choice - as she had backers from JCs inner circle like Ian Lavery and Clive Lewis. Put simply it appears that Corbyn did not want his nemesis Hilary Benn to win. Benn of course previously defied Corbyn over Syria and is the man who really should be leading the Labour Party.
The two appointments are significant because these 2 capable politicians would usually be expected to be a part of Labour’s shadow cabinet. While neither Benn or Cooper are the flavour of the month with the Corbyn regime, their election today serves as a reminder that his MPs can — and will — get by without him.