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A Shadow Chancellor from Outside the Shadow Cabinet?

John Rentoul

dm 300x180 A Shadow Chancellor from Outside the Shadow Cabinet?Ed Miliband wanted his brother David to be shadow chancellor, rather than Ed Balls, when Alan Johnson stood down. So The Sun reported yesterday and it has not been denied. I can imagine why David was not keen: having to take orders from his brother, with whose politics he disagrees, while fending off the continuing Ed Balls psych-out.

No one has yet mentioned one other issue: David Miliband is not a member of Labour’s elected shadow cabinet, from whose ranks the leader is supposed to draw his team.

There are precedents for the leader making appointments from outside the shadow cabinet. Neil Kinnock appointed Martin O’Neill as shadow defence secretary in June 1988 after the resignation of the impulsive Denzil Davies, although O’Neill had not been elected.

It would have been quite fun to appoint a position as important as shadow chancellor. Almost worth David’s accepting, just to discredit the stupid idea of shadow cabinet elections.

Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

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  • coventrian

    So you read it in The Sun. Must be true then. After all who ever heard of a Murdoch paper making up stuff to damage the Labour Party.

    I understand John Rentoul teaches journalism (no kidding!). What on earth does he tell his students about reliable sources?

    Nice to see his contempt for democracy too.

  • Guest

    I do not see why David M would have had to take orders from his brother Ed, had he become shadow chancellor. Gordon Brown never took orders from Tony Blair, did he? Or was that one of the conditions of the deal the two stitched up during that cosy dinner at Granita’s?

    I do agree that a Labour leader should not be hog-tied by shadow cabinet elections, much less that he or she should be elected by trade union votes.

    The more one sees of democracy in practice, the more one thinks there was something in J S Mill’s reservations about the ‘tyranny of the commonplace majority’. How does a country go about becoming a benign dictatorship, does anyone know?

  • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.burchell Matthew Burchell

    The Shadow Cabinet already contains two members who did not secure a place in the recent Shadow Cabinet elections – Peter Hain and Shaun Woodward. It has been the consistent practice of Labour leaders in opposition to make such appointments – Jack Cunningham was voted out in 1995 but allowed back in anyway. Likewise Harriet Harman two years earlier. It isn’t unusual, and it hasn’t sufficiently discredited Shadow Cabinet elections to dissuade the PLP from holding them.

  • JohnRentoul

    You do not understand very well. Click on my name at the top of this post.

  • 6and8pence

    . . . and the man who admired Tony Blair so much towards the end when he became totally discredited. I pity his students!

  • LancashireLad

    Don’t click his name; it’s a trap! Here’s something interesting instead…….

    Evidence of insufficiency of inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly and new evidence that calls into question the findings of the Hutton Inquiry

    To the Attorney General

    25th February 2011

    Dear Mr Grieve

    Dr Kelly was found on Harrowdown Hill on the 18th July 2003 we remain in the dark regarding findings that an inquest would ordinarily satisfy, namely where Dr Kelly died, when he died and how he died.

    Two reasons for this are there has been neither proper inquest nor rigorous investigation into the death; another is that there is clear evidence that the police have not told the truth about the position the body was found in, for this reason it is not clear where Dr Kelly died.

    There is evidence of an insufficiency of inquiry which justifies the Attorney General to send an application to the High Court seeking an order to hold a new inquest. Also new evidence that has emerged since the Hutton inquiry calls into question the findings of that inquiry.

    No evidence was submitted to the Hutton inquiry regarding any police investigation into whether the body had been repositioned; Lord Hutton failed to establish if the body had been moved by not challenging the conflicting accounts of the body’s position.

    Evidence that the body was moved and the police misleading the Hutton inquiry;

    1 The search team (Holmes, Chapman and Brock) found the body of Dr Kelly at just before 9.20am on 18th July 2003 and described the position of the body at the Hutton inquiry as; (Holmes) “head and his shoulders just slumped back against the tree” (Chapman) “sitting up against a tree” and “sitting with his back up against a tree” The search team then ‘phone in their find to the police at 9.20am

    2 Approximately 2 or 3 minutes after reporting the find of the body the search team encounter 3 police officers; one of these was DC Coe. DC Coe had been despatched to the village where Dr Kelly lived to make house to house inquiries but decided to go searching instead. DC Coe was the only one of the 3 officers to give evidence at the Hutton inquiry, he was due to give evidence the same morning as the search team (2nd Sept 2003) but in the event gave his evidence 2 weeks later on the (16th Sept). DC Coe’s evidence regarding the position of the body was in stark contrast to the search team’s account; “It was laying on its back — the body was laying on its back by a large tree, the head towards the trunk of the tree”. If DC Coe had given evidence to the inquiry on the date it was planned the conflicting evidence regarding the position of the body would have been obvious. DC Coe also told the inquiry that he was accompanied by only one other person despite many witnesses at the inquiry stating he was with 2 other people. DC Coe, last year, gave an interview to the Daily Mail (9th Aug 2010) and admitted there was a third man with him but refused to identify him.

    3 At 9.28am an outer cordon was set up at the car park where a path leads to Harrowdown hill, two of the “first team out on the ground” police officers were PC Franklin and PC Sawyer, both officers told the Hutton inquiry that they arrived at the same time as the ambulance crew but the ambulance crew were not called until 9.40 arriving at the scene 9.55.

    Regarding the position of the body, Franklin at the inquiry said “He was lying on his back with his right hand to his side and his left hand was sort of inverted with the palm facing down (Indicates), facing up on his back.”

    Sawyer said “Lying on its back with its head at the base of a tree, a large tree. The head was tilted to the left. The right arm was by the side. The left arm was palm down.” And “I could not see any actual injuries because the injuries, I believe, were hidden by the wrist being turned down”

    4 At 9.55 the ambulance crew arrive Vanessa Hunt describes the position of the body as “There was a male on his back, feet towards us.” And “On his left arm, which was outstretched to the left of him, there was some dry blood.” And “There was dried blood on the left wrist. His jacket was pulled to sort of mid forearm area and from that area down towards the hand there was dried blood, but no obvious sign of a wound or anything, it was just dried blood.” And “the hand — from what I remember, his arm — left arm was outstretched to the left of the body.” And “Palm up or slightly on the side (indicates) and, as I say, there was dried blood from the edge of the jacket down towards the hand but no gaping wound or anything obvious that I could see from the position I was in.”

    (David Bartlett) “the body was laid, feet facing us, laid on its back, left arm out to one side (indicates) and the right arm across the chest.” And “It was slightly wrist up, more wrist up than down.” And “Just some dried blood across the wrist.” And “You mentioned the injury to the wrist. You saw some blood, did you? A. There was dried blood across the top, yes. Q. Was that congealed or not? A. I did not touch it. It was dried, it started to crack like when it goes dry.”

    5 At 12.10 on the pathologist’s first visit to the body he was shown a video before he went to the body “it showed the approach path to the body. It showed a deceased man lying on his back, with visible bloodstaining around his left wrist.” Then when he goes to the body he says “He was lying on his back fully clothed with his boots on. His left arm was towards his side and his right arm was over his chest area.”

    At 14.10 the pathologist returns to the body to make a detailed examination, he says “He was laying on his back near a tree. The left arm was extended out from the body slightly, closer to shoulder level, his right arm was laying across his chest are” And “Q. Was any part of his body actually touching the tree; can you recall? A. I recall that his head was quite close to branches and so forth, but not actually over the tree.

    6 Lord Hutton in his summing up said “Mr Chapman then took one of the police officers, Detective Constable Coe, to show him where the body was. Mr Chapman showed Detective Constable Coe the body lying on its back” But when Mr Chapman showed DC Coe where the body was, it was “sitting up against a tree”. Lord Hutton added “Those who try cases relating to a death or injury (whether caused by crime or accident) know that entirely honest witnesses often give evidence as to what they saw at the scene which differs as to details. In the evidence which I heard from those who saw Dr Kelly’s body in the wood there were differences as to points of detail, such as the number of police officers at the scene and whether they were all in uniform, the amount of blood at the scene, and whether the body was lying on the ground or slumped against the tree. I have seen a photograph of Dr Kelly’s body in the wood which shows that most of his body was lying on the ground but that his head was slumped against the base of the tree – therefore a witness could say either that the body was lying on the ground or slumped against the tree. These differences do not cause me to doubt that no third party was involved in Dr Kelly’s death.”

    7 In an interview to the Daily Mail on the 23 Aug 2010 Dr Nicholas Hunt the pathologist gave new evidence regarding the injury to Dr Kelly’s wrist, evidence that he did not put in his post mortem report nor was it brought up at the Hutton inquiry; he said “there was clear evidence Dr Kelly repeatedly dislodged clots or scabs to ensure he continued bleeding. ‘His wrist was red so he must have been doing this for some time.’” Whilst Dr Hunt assumes that it was Dr Kelly who dislodged the scabs it may have been someone else.

    8 In an interview to the Daily Mail on 12 Sept 2010 One of the ambulance crew who had attended the scene where Dr Kelly’s body was found, David Bartlett, said “His left sleeve was rolled up and you could see a wound with some dried blood around it.” And “‘He was lying flat out some distance from the tree. He definitely wasn’t leaning against it. I remember saying to the copper, “Are you sure he hasn’t fallen out of the tree?” And “When I was there the body was far enough away from the tree for someone to get behind it. I know that because I stood there when we were using the electrodes to check his heart. Later I learned that the dog team said they had found him propped up against the tree. He wasn’t when we got there. If the earlier witnesses are saying that, then the body has obviously been moved.”

    Lord Hutton could have shown the witnesses that gave conflicting evidence regarding the position of the body, the photograph that he had seen; of “Dr Kelly’s body in the wood which shows that most of his body was lying on the ground but that his head was slumped against the base of the tree” and asked – was this the position of the body when you saw it? Lord Hutton failed to establish if the body had been moved. And his reasoning was flawed when he said “therefore a witness could say either that the body was lying on the ground or slumped against the tree. These differences do not cause me to doubt that no third party was involved in Dr Kelly’s death.”

    This is completely erroneous it is not possible to describe an image in a single photograph as both; “sitting up against a tree” and “laying on his back near a tree” “head was quite close to branches and so forth, but not actually over the tree.”

    If Lord Hutton had seen a photograph with the body position as he described then the body must have been in 3 different positions at different times.

    Lord Hutton failed to inquire sufficiently into the possibility that the body was moved; new evidence from David Bartlett confirms the body was indeed moved.

    The repositioning of the body would necessitate new blood pools to be created in order that the new position of the injured wrist was consistent with a blood pool. The new evidence from Dr Hunt the pathologist suggests this was achieved by the wrist wound being interfered with. The evidence from the ambulance crew (wrist up wound covered in dry blood) and Franklin & Sawyers evidence (wrist down wound not visible) suggests the wound was interfered with after the ambulance crew left the scene and the wrist was turned over to facing downwards to hide the fresh blood. But Franklin and Sawyer’s misleading account of when they arrived on the scene means there is a time period that Franklin and Sawyer were at the scene before the ambulance crew arrive which is unaccounted for. What were they doing? Again this is evidence of insufficiency of inquiry.

    DC Coe’s misleading account to the inquiry means that a 3rd person who was at the scene has not been identified and therefore insufficiency of inquiry has meant an important witness has been overlooked.

    A new inquest could establish if the body was moved and if so why. One possibility is that Dr Kelly did not die at Harrowdown Hill but his body was placed there. The subsequent repositioning of the body may have been because Dr Kelly had been lay flat on his back after death and livor mortis would expose that he had not died sitting against a tree. Dried vomit stains from mouth to ear indicates that Dr Kelly was on his back before he was sat against a tree.
    It is not possible to say where Dr Kelly died until there has been an investigation into whether the body was repositioned or not.

    I am asking for the Attorney General to Review this evidence and decide if , in accordance with section 13 of the Coroners Act 1988 that it justifies the Attorney General to send an application to the High Court for there to be a new inquest held into the death of Dr Kelly and consider if it is necessary and desirable in the interests of justice.

    Yours Sincerely

  • highlandjock

    It would also have been pure, unadulterated nepotism.

  • coventrian

    Correction – Rentoul teaches contemporary history (spot the contradiction) where I suppose he passes off stories from The Sun to gullible students – who will soon be expected to pay £9,000 a year for the privilege.

    Is it because teaching journalism is reserved for genuine journalists?


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