WALTER CRONXITE, political editor, on how today’s Labour front bench job creation scheme might be taken as proof that turds do somehow manage to rise to the surface…
Steve Reed OBE, the right-wing MP who shunted another Labour MP out of her constituency so that he could move into the ultra-safe new seat of Streatham and Norbury, has today been shunted himself, this time as part of Keir Starmer’s reshuffle of the opposition front bench.
Reed, for now the MP for Croydon North, will no longer be able to indulge his ego by describing himself as “Shadow Lord Chancellor”, as he has done for the past couple of years since being appointed Starmer’s justice shadow minister, despite having absolutely no qualifications as a lawyer whatsoever.
Until the likely 2024 General Election, Reed has been handed a particularly steamy pile of shit, having been made Labour’s chief parliamentary spokesperson on the environment, food and rural affairs.
This will include farming policy (something else Reed knows little about), as well as Labour’s position on the re-nationalisation of the water industry, while our rivers and waterways are clogged with excrement pumped there by water boards’ profit-driven private owners.
It also puts Reed in charge of some climate crisis policy – which could prove to be disastrous for Labour given how Reed opposes LTNs introduced by Croydon Council under Labour and Labour’s London Mayor’s ULEZ expansion.
The unashamedly ambitious Reed might have been expecting a step up in the Labour reshuffle, but his part in the recent by-election campaign in Uxbridge may have counted against him.
Reed’s recidivism over ULEZ saw Labour’s candidate try to distance themselves from Mayor Khan’s expansion proposal, extended to outer London to improve air quality for the whole of Greater London.
Mind you, this is the same campaign genius Steve Reed who squandered £10,000 of party funds in Croydon fronting the opposition to having elected Mayor to run the local council, using leaflets with burning pound notes just months after his councillor colleagues had crashed and burned the Town Hall finances.
So it ought not to be any surprise that Reed, despite his own confident opinion of his own abilities, has not been made Labour’s national campaign coordinator in today’s reshuffle. Not even deputy national campaign coordinator…
But Reed’s appointment to the shadow DEFRA role could also be a signal that Starmer – who was reported as saying that he hates “tree-huggers” – is about to try to out-Tory the Tories in their denial of the climate crisis.
Reed has never been forgiven in Lambeth, where he was council leader until 2012, for starting the hugely costly and environmentally damaging council estates renewal process in that borough.
“I will work tirelessly to preserve our precious nature, win a fairer deal for farmers, tackle food price inflation and end the scandal of sewage being dumped in our rivers, lakes and seas,” Reed promised today after his (at best) sideways move.
Reed has been replaced in his shadow justice role by a qualified lawyer, Shabana Mahmood.
As shadow environment secretary, Reed replaces Jim McMahon, an Oldham MP who had earlier in the day resigned because of the “personal challenges” he is facing with a health condition.
Westminster sources suggest that one reason that Reed had to be moved was because of constant in-departmental clashes with the shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, the former Labour leadership contender and an influential figure in the shadow cabinet.
But as many in the Croydon Labour party are well aware, and Inside Croydon readers also know well, Reed made himself unsuited for any position in the public office when he was implicated in the handling of documents stolen from this website during an illegal hack in 2021.
Inside Croydon has had access to internal Labour Party correspondence which shows that Reed has been trying to have this website closed down for at least seven years, largely because he got the right ‘ump when we showed the former vice-chair of the right-wing party-within-a-party, Progress, decked out in a blue rosette.
This was deemed, by Reed, to be far more offensive and damaging to the Labour Party than causing Croydon Council’s financial collapse, as his mates at the Town Hall did between 2014 and 2020… Reed, in a previous role as Labour’s shadow local government spokesman, said nothing whatsoever critical of Croydon’s Labour council ahead of its crash in 2020.
According to one loyal party member in Croydon North, “I guess they’ve shifted Steve Reed sideways in order to avoid the embarrassment of Labour getting into government and having a Justice Secretary who ignored, maybe even encouraged, law-breaking by members of the Labour Party in Croydon.
“The issue won’t go away but will be less putrid if he does not have a top ministerial job in a legal portfolio.
“Besides which, Reed was clearly out of his depth as Shadow Justice Secretary and had nothing useful to say about any of the controversial legal system issues that have been popping up recently.
“Under Reed, there seemed to be no Tory policy, no proposed erosion of public rights, that Labour would not embrace and endorse – whether actively or through the front bench spokesperson’s silence.
“There is the Spy Cops and Public Order Act that criminalises ordinary democratic protest and dissent. The Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Act that gives immunity for British forces overseas who carry out torture and murder.
“And of course, there’s the Illegal Immigration Act that promises to give immigrant communities and refugees even more discrimination and punishment, with over-policing and criminalisation of black and Muslim communities.
“Do you recall Reed making even the slightest noise in support of the communities who are a majority in his constituency and who are the worst affected by all this bad Tory legislation? Any comments of any worth at all from Reed about the damaging implications for the British justice system?
“It must have been obvious that Reed had no clue what to do with the Justice Secretary remit.”
Reactions to the Starmer reshuffle included describing it as “proper Blairism on steroids”.
“At this rate, I’ll be surprised if we are not invading Iraq by tea time,” said SNP MP David Linden.
Other local MPs involved in the reshuffle, or not involved, included Tooting’s Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, who resigned from the shadow cabinet after nearly three years handling the mental health portfolio, because Starmer would not make it a cabinet-ranking job.
A qualified doctor who worked shifts at St George’s during the pandemic, Allin-Khan may have blotted her copy book with Starmer when she took issue with one of his favourites, Wes Streeting, over the adoption of Tory policies to privatise the health service.
“I have got to be honest, I am not totally aligned with the idea of using private providers to clear [treatment] backlogs,” Dr Allin-Khan told one public event.
“I think we should be injecting money into the NHS. It isn’t just on its knees, it has fallen flat on its face.
“I personally would not like to see money from the NHS going into the pockets of private providers to clear backlogs. I would like to see the NHS rebuilt properly.” Not that there seems to be much chance of that under the Tory-lite crew of Starmer, Streeting and Reed.
Despite some speculation over the weekend that there might be a promotion to cabinet level for Croydon Central MP Sarah Jones, it seems she is to remain as shadow policing minister in Cooper’s Home Office team.
Reed more: #TheLabourFiles: MP Reed, Evans and the Croydon connection
Reed more: #TheLabourFiles: Whip letters prove they knew hack was illegal
Reed more: 7% swing not enough in Uxbridge after Reed’s mixed messages
Reed more: Ribeiro-Addy is shunted aside for Reed’s political ambitions
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