Is Labour ready to manage the pensions brief?

It has been so long since the Labour party had a pensions campaign that I can remember that I had almost forgot they existed. Jonathan Ashworth has exited stage right and is being replaced by Liz Kendall as shadow work and pensions secretary.

She’s a Blairite, according to the lobbyists and to the right of the party. Still to the left of the heavyweight Conservative current DWP Secretary of State – Mel Stride but probably the “continuity candidate”.

Her Wiki entry does not make her sound a firebrand

Kendall has argued that Labour should be “genuinely as passionate about wealth creation as we are about wealth redistribution” and her party should not just understand business but be “the champion of people who take a risk, create something and make a success of it”. Kendall has also said that there is “nothing progressive about racking up debts for the next generation” and it is wrong to spend more on debt interest repayments than on education.

Kendall has given support to George Osborne‘s plan to enshrine in law an overall budget surplus during “normal times” but has called for more detail on the proposals. Kendall has also said that the last Labour government was wrong to run a deficit before the financial crash but that it did not cause the crash.

She ran against Jeremy Corby to be Labour Leader in 2015 and though she only got 4.5% of the vote, she was heralded by the Sun as the “only prayer the Labour Party have“.

Now she has been fully rehabilitated , not just into the Labour party, but into what may be a future Government as soon as this time next year.

She inherits a number of shadow junior ministers, including Matt Rodda , MP for Reading East and to all intents and purposes , the invisible man.

Unlike Laura Trott – Glenn Rodda does use Twitter but he does not use it to discuss pensions. He does not use any public forum to discuss pensions. I am not sure he is interested in pensions.

Bearing in mind the importance the current Government is placing on pensions as the means of regenerating the economy, this is odd.

The first job I  hope that Liz Kendall will do is to ask Matt Rodda whether he is interested in the job and if the answer is “yes”, then to ask him to put some effort into doing it. If the answer is “no, the second job she should be doing is to find a new person for the job.

Speaking at an LCP seminar this afternoon, Sir Steve Webb said that his firm would be consulting with Liz Kendall which is ok but secretaries of state don’t generally get deep into the weeds of pensions and pension ministers work best when they know their stuff.

Jack Dromey was a top man but it hasn’t been since Gregg McClymont who lost his seat in 2016,, that we have had a Labour Pensions Minister that anyone heard anything from.

So for us to answer the question , “is Labour finally ready to manage the pensions brief” , the answer sadly is “no”.  With no obvious experience herself, Leicester Liz has got her work cut out for her with her current team.

Those watching Stephen Timms discuss his work at the Work and Pensions Committee at LCP’s debate on DB options yesterday, will be aware that there is one Labour MP , who maintains a passionate interest in how pensions are delivered in the UK today.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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2 Responses to Is Labour ready to manage the pensions brief?

  1. Jack Jones says:

    One thing is absolutely sure – there will be some Labour MPs eyeing pension funds and thinking of them as an untapped resource. Prepare for an end to tax relief above 20%, restrictions on tax free lump sums, reductions in annual allowances etc.

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