It is an imperfect, but accepted, part of democracy that after an election, the winner rewards his or her supporters with positions in the top team, or in the Party machine. This happens in the United Kingdom in a relatively muted way, particularly in government, thanks to our non-political civil service. In Washington, a new administration brings a total clear-out, going quite far down into government. When David Cameron won the leadership of the Conservative Party in December 2005, he was careful to ensure key supporters were given a role, but that the front bench properly reflected all strands within the Party. After all, his closest rivals were given very important roles: David Davis was Shadow Home Secretary, Liam Fox Shadow Defence Secretary, and so on. As it happens, neither Davis and Fox is in that position today, but in neither case has David Cameron actively removed them.
The Labour leadership contest in 2010, and developments since, have been very different. We all know that David Miliband has refused to serve under his brother, and we should take at his word Ed’s assurance that a place is available for his older brother, should he want it. However, readers might not be aware that many other supporters of David Miliband, many of whom are talented and willing MPs, have not been offered places on the Labour front bench. Worse still, in little-noticed mini Labour reshuffles since then, many have been eased out. Who voted for whom in 2010 can be seen here and who serves on Labour’s front bench is here.