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Tom Watson, the biggest West Midlands beast in Team Corbyn, ‘may take special interest in Birmingham’

Tom Watson, the biggest West Midlands beast in Team Corbyn, ‘may take special interest in Birmingham’

🕔21.Sep 2015

It took almost a week to find enough people willing to serve under him, but new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has finally named his full team of shadow ministers. Birmingham and the West Midlands, never over-blessed with representation at the top table, has even fewer MPs in the new leadership line-up, writes Paul Dale.

Birmingham MPs Liam Byrne, Shabana Mahmood and Steve McCabe did not make it into Mr Corbyn’s shadow ministerial ranks.

For Mr Byrne, a former cabinet minister and Blairite moderniser with a tough line on immigration, the omission must have come as little surprise.

Any lingering hope the Hodge Hill MP may have had of hanging on probably disappeared when he confidently announced a few days before the Labour leadership vote was declared that Yvette Cooper would come from behind to win. He could hardly have been more wrong.

Shabana Mahmood, MP for Ladywood, one of Labour’s safest seats, fell on her sword as soon as Mr Corbyn’s victory was announced by declaring that she would not serve under him. She had been a highly regarded shadow Treasury minister under Ed Miliband.

Steve McCabe, MP for Selly Oak, a shadow education minister under Mr Miliband, is not in the Corbyn team either.

Two Birmingham MPs have survived. Jack Dromey (Erdington), husband of interim Labour leader Harriet Harman, keeps his role as shadow policing minister at the Home Office, while Richard Burden (Northfield) retains the shadow transport minister brief.

Lord Philip Hunt of Kings Heath will continue as a health spokesman in the Lords and as shadow deputy leader of the House.

Black Country MP John Spellar (Warley) loses his Foreign Office brief and is not in Team Corbyn.

Wolverhampton south-east MP Pat McFadden gets the Foreign Office brief, while Wolverhampton south-west MP Rob Marris becomes a shadow Treasury minister.

In terms of influence the biggest gain for the West Midlands is clearly the election of West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson as deputy leader of the Labour party.

Mr Watson’s double act with Jeremy Corbyn did not get off to a great a start with the national anthem and Battle of Britain memorial service row, not to mention allegations that the pair walked off with packs of sandwiches reserved for veterans, and the matter of Mr Watson’s ill-fitting jacket didn’t make for great pictures.

Part of Mr Watson’s deputy leadership role is to build a mass Labour movement and to make sure the party is as ready as it can be to fight next May’s local council elections. To that end he will be taking an interest in the country’s largest local authority, Birmingham city council, which is struggling with culture change reforms required by the Kerslake Review.

Although he has hardly had time to get his feet under the deputy leader’s desk, Mr Watson may be about to receive ‘representations’ from Labour politicians in Birmingham who want to talk to him about the Labour-led council’s problems.

This may not be good news for city council leader Sir Albert Bore for it is widely claimed that Mr Watson is firmly in the camp of people like MEP Siôn Simon, backbench Labour councillor and serial leadership challenger John Clancy, and Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood.

If these people have the ear of Mr Watson, and apparently they do, then the deputy Labour leader may be taking a keen interest in the next report of the Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel to Communities Secretary Greg Clark detailing the council’s progress on delivering the Kerslake governance recommendations.

Mr Clark has made it clear he will consider sending in government commissioners to run the council if progress on Kerslake issues does not speed up. The possibility, however remote, of the largest Labour controlled authority in the country being taken over by Whitehall because it is not deemed competent enough to control its own future is surely something that will weigh on Mr Watson’s mind.

Labour shadow team in full:

Leader of the Opposition

Jeremy Corbyn MP

Business, Innovation & Skills

Shadow Secretary of State Angela Eagle MP

Shadow Ministers:

Kevin Brennan MP

Stephen Doughty MP

Yvonne Fovargue MP

Chi Onwurah MP [Joint with DCMS]

Bill Esterson MP

Gordon Marsden MP [Joint with Education]

Lord (Wilf) Stevenson

Lord (Jon) Mendelsohn

Baroness (Dianne) Hayter

Cabinet Office

Shadow Secretary of State Tom Watson MP

Shadow Ministers:

Gloria De Piero MP

Jon Ashworth MP

Ian Lavery MP

Wayne David MP [Joint with Scotland, Justice]

Anna Turley MP

Lousie Haigh MP

Baroness (Dianne) Hayter

Communities and Local Government

Shadow Secretary of State Jon Trickett MP

Shadow Ministers:

Steve Reed MP

Liz McInnes MP

Lord (Roy) Kennedy

Lord (Jeremy) Beecham


Shadow Secretary of State John Healey MP (Housing)

Shadow Ministers:

Roberta Blackman-Woods MP

Teresa Pearce MP

Lord (Roy) Kennedy

Lord (Jeremy) Beecham

Culture, Media & Sport

Shadow Secretary of State:

Michael Dugher MP

Shadow Ministers:

Chi Onwurah MP [Joint with BIS]

Clive Efford MP

Lord (Wilf) Stevenson


Shadow Secretary of State Maria Eagle MP

Shadow Ministers:

Kevan Jones MP

Toby Perkins MP

Rachel Maskell MP

Rt Hon Lord (Don) Touhig


Shadow Secretary of State Lucy Powell MP

Shadow Ministers:

Nic Dakin MP

Sharon Hodgson MP

Gordon Marsden MP [Joint with BIS]

Lord (Mike) Watson

Energy and Climate Change

Shadow Secretary of State Lisa Nandy MP

Shadow Ministers:

Barry Gardiner MP

Alan Whitehead MP

Clive Lewis MP

Baroness (Bryony) Worthington

Lord (John) Grantchester

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Shadow Secretary of State Kerry McCarthy MP

Shadow Ministers:

Alex Cunningham MP

Nick Smith MP

Baroness (Maggie) Jones

Lord (John) Grantchester


Shadow Foreign Secretary Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP

Shadow Ministers:

Rt Hon Pat McFadden MP

Rt Hon David Hanson MP

Diana Johnson MP

Catherine West MP

Lord (Ray) Collins

Baroness (Eluned) Morgan


Shadow Secretary of State Heidi Alexander MP

Shadow Ministers:

Luciana Berger MP

Andrew Gwynne MP

Barbara Keeley MP

Justin Madders MP

Rt Hon Lord (Philip) Hunt

Home Office

Shadow Home Secretary Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP

Shadow Ministers:

Jack Dromey MP

Lyn Brown MP

Keir Starmer MP

Sarah Champion MP

Lord (Richard) Rosser

Lord (Roy) Kennedy

International Development

Shadow Secretary of State Diane Abbott MP

Shadow Ministers:

Mike Kane MP

Lord (Ray) Collins


Shadow Secretary of State Rt Hon Lord (Charlie) Falconer QC

Shadow Ministers:

Andy Slaughter MP

Jenny Chapman MP

Wayne David MP [Joint with Scotland, Cab Office]

Lord (Willy) Bach

Lord (Jeremy) Beecham

Law Officers

Catherine McKinnell MP

Karl Turner MP

Lord (Neil) Davidson QC ­­­­­­­[Adv. Gen. Scotland]

Leader of the House of Commons

Chris Bryant MP

Melanie Onn MP

Leader of the House of Lords

Rt Hon Baroness (Angela) Smith

Rt Hon Lord (Philip) Hunt [Deputy Leader]

Northern Ireland

Vernon Coaker MP

Stephen Pound MP

Rt Hon Lord (Tommy) McAvoy


Ian Murray MP

Wayne David MP [Joint with Justice and Cabinet Office]

Rt Hon Lord (Tommy) McAvoy


Shadow Secretary of State Lilian Greenwood MP

Shadow Ministers:

Jonathan Reynolds MP

Richard Burden MP

Daniel Zeichner MP

Lord (Richard) Rosser


Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP

Shadow Ministers:

Seema Malhotra MP

Rob Marris MP

Rebecca Long Bailey MP

Richard Burgon MP

Rt Hon Lord (Bryan) Davies

Lord (Denis) Tunnicliffe

Lord (Neil) Davidson


Shadow Secretary of State Nia Griffith MP

Shadow Ministers:

Susan Elan Jones MP

Baroness (Eluned) Morgan

Women & Equalities Office

Kate Green MP

Cat Smith MP

Baroness (Dianne) Hayter

Work & Pensions

Shadow Secretary of State Owen Smith MP

Shadow Ministers:

Emily Thornberry MP

Debbie Abrahams MP

Nick Thomas Symonds MP

Baroness (Maeve) Sherlock

Lord (Bill) McKenzie

Whips Office

House of Commons

Chief Whip

Opposition Chief Whip

Rt Hon Rosie Winterton MP


Alan Campbell MP (Deputy Chief Whip)

Mark Tami MP (Pairing Whip)

Jessica Morden MP

Judith Cummins MP

Vicky Foxcroft MP

Sue Hayman MP

Holly Lynch MP

Conor McGinn MP

Grahame Morris MP

Angela Rayner MP

Jeff Smith MP


House of Lords

Chief Whip

Rt Hon Lord (Steve) Bassam

Deputy Chief Whips

Lord (Denis) Tunnicliffe

Rt Hon Lord (Tommy) McAvoy

Senior Whips

Baroness (Margaret) Wheeler

Baroness (Maeve) Sherlock


Lord (Ray) Collins

Baroness (Eluned) Morgan

Lord (Wilf) Stevenson

Rt Hon Lord (Don) Touhig

Lord (Roy) Kennedy

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