Archive for May, 2017

Why my Fantasy Frontbench is the best one.

May 27, 2017

Fantasy front bench

After creating my Fantasy Frontbench I can’t resisting breaking it down, just to illustrate the quality of it. As well as making it good, I have also tried to give it as much political balance as I can stomach and a 50:50 gender balance.

Great Offices of State

Prime Minister – Yvette Cooper was my pick of the leadership candidates post-2015 election. She has solid Cabinet experience and gravitas, so would make a good leader of a government of the grown-ups.

Chancellor – Rachel Reeves worked at the Bank of England.

Foreign Secretary – Stella Creasy has done a huge amount of work on the refugee crisis and is a PhD in Social Psychology, which ought to be useful in diplomacy.

Home Secretary – Jess Phillips has authority on this, having worked with victims of crime, but is also pragmatic and refreshingly honest, which should hopefully wrongfoot a perennially dissatisfied press.

International Affairs

Brexit Secretary – Hilary Benn. Currently chief scrutineer of the Brexit process, chairing the Commons committee on it.

Defence – Dan Jarvis. Former Army officer.

International Trade – John Woodcock. I didn’t want a Tory, who might trade away our social protections. I thought about appointing the worldly Nick Clegg until I remember one particular deal he struck in 2010 (though, to be fair, he’s probably learned some valuable lessons). I picked Woodcock because as MP for an industrial northern town he’d have a good sense of what keeps jobs in those sorts of places.

International Development – Rory Stewart. The first Tory on my list. Former diplomat who knows how warzones tick. At this Department in a junior role already.

Economy & Public Services

Business etc – Alison McGovern. One of the most impressive voices on the challenges facing the economy and the Labour Party.

Work & Pensions – Lisa Nandy. I’ve heard great things about her. Let’s see what she can do with this clusterfuck. Her background with Centrepoint should help.

Health – Sarah Wollaston. GP by trade, current chair of the Health Select Committee and respected across the House.

Education – Jon Cruddas. Both a fan of education (he has a doctorate in labour relations) and well-attuned to issues affecting the indigenous working class, so a good fit for this.

Transport – Sajid Javid. He’s in my good books because of the letting agent fees ban under his watch at DCLG. Also the son of a bus driver, so I’d like to think he’d sort out local transport.

Communities and Local Government – Caroline Lucas. In recognition of the Greens having gone furthest on regulation of the rental market.

Other stuff

Justice – Anna Soubry. Similar in lots of ways to her Nottinghamshire neighbour Ken Clarke – Barrister, Europhile, plain-speaking – I hope this also means she’s pro-prison reform.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – Nick Boles. The Lincolnshire MP’s willingness to reform the green belt will be a useful counterweight to Lucas at DCLG.

Culture, Media and Sport – Chuka Umunna. An asset to any team, but I figured his love of UK Garage would make him a good fit here.

Devolved Nations

Scotland – Chi Onwurah. Initially I thought a Scot would be essential, and picked Michael Gove as a staunch defender of the union. But then I thought Newcastle Central’s MP would find some neglected-by-Westminster common ground with the Scottish Government, while also making sure devolution doesn’t damage the interests of England’s far north.

Wales – Owen Smith. His leadership challenge may have failed but he stuck his neck out and I respect that. And he’s an MP in Wales.

Northern Ireland – Ed Miliband. I think this guy wants a new challenge.


Chief Whip – Rob Halfon. Another Tory who is attuned to ordinary people’s lives, so worth having in Cabinet.

Leader of the House – Emily Thornberry. Too good a performer to have off the team and should make Thursday Business Questions entertaining.

And that’s how you sort out this country.