If David Blunkett fancies being a kindly older mentor for the current Labour shadow cabinet, perhaps he could start by getting them all on television a little more, if only to say how great they think Ed Miliband is as party leader. As the summer has worn on and the Labour leader’s troubles have thickened like a sauce, the shadow cabinet seems to have evaporated, according to this analysis of the last time any of them pitched up on the airwaves:
· Maria Eagle appeared on BBC News (13 August 2013)
· Caroline Flint appeared on Daybreak (9 August 2013).
· Owen Smith appeared on the Today Programme (7 August 2013)
· Sadiq Khan appeared on The World at One (1 August 2013) and the Andrew Marr Show (28 July 2013).
· Andy Burnham appeared on BBC News (29 July).
· Emily Thornberry appeared on Boulton & Co (26 July).
· Ed Balls appeared on BBC News (25 July).
· Ed Miliband appeared on Sky News to congratulate the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (23 July).
· Yvette Cooper appeared on the World at One (22 July).
· Caroline Flint appeared on Murnaghan (21 July).
Still, at least Ed Miliband’s top team are keeping the faith on Twitter, aren’t they?
Well, it doesn’t seem they are. Much has been made of Ed Balls’ decision to take a holiday from supporting his colleague, but some of the shadow cabinet seem to have decided to take a holiday from talking about anything at all. Andy Burnham continues to be the only proactive shadow cabinet member, last tweeting on 5 August. And Balls finally tweeted today about the cost of living.
· Yvette Cooper – hadn’t tweeted since 27 July
· Andy Burnham – hadn’t tweeted since 5 August
· Hilary Benn – hadn’t tweeted since 24 July
· Angela Eagle – hadn’t tweeted since 27 July
· Liam Byrne – hadn’t tweeted since 26 July
· Michael Dugher – hadn’t tweeted since 30 July
What’s curious about this season of trouble for the Labour leader is that there is general discontent but no rumbling about serious plots to oust him. There has barely been any rumbling at all. This might come as a relief to him for the time being, but at some stage these hibernating ministers will have to pop up again. They have two weeks of parliament sitting before the conference season begins, and Miliband is apparently staking everything on that big conference speech. This would be less of a problem if he hadn’t had to do exactly the same thing last year. In that instance, we all underestimated him and he pulled a brilliant speech out of the bag. Which was nice last year, but it means the Labour leader now has to trump a speech of a lifetime with another one. Given he memorised his lengthy address to last year’s conference, he’ll have to think of something else to do to grab attention, like soaring into the conference hall on a trapeze, or jumping out of a massive pork pie. Hopefully by then his team will have woken up to praise his brilliant, astounding leadership.Tags: Ed Balls, Ed Miliband, Labour, UK politics