Honeyball’s weekly round-up

Labour Party

One week into Ed Miliband’s leadership and he’s announced his shadow cabinet. The biggest surprise, of course was that Alan Johnson rather than either of the other favourites Yvette Cooper or her husband Ed Balls who are now Shadow Foreign Secretary and Shadow Home Secretary respectively, is now the Shadow Chancellor.

The  choice of placing experienced characters in the shape of Harriet Harman and Hilary Benn alongside some of new and emerging names provides an exciting and formidable opposition.

The greatest achievement, however, is that this shadow cabinet has one of the greatest balances in its gender equality, something which female politicians have worked so hard to achieve, and most recently this has been driven by Harriet Harman.

Eight female representatives elected into the shadow cabinet and a further three who, because of the jobs they do, mean that the shadow cabinet almost reaches Harriet Harman’s objective of an even gender balance.

Anne Perkins in Saturday’s Guardian explores the long story of how change (in refference to gender equality) was slow, hard-fought and a result of the determination of a handful of women. You can read Anne Perkins insights here.

We ALL will of course be following Ed Miliband this week when he takes to the despatch box for the first time as leader of the party and battles it out at PMQ’s.

On the other side it was announced this morning that the Business Secretary’s plan for a graduate tax has been abandoned. What his party will think of this remains to be seen, but judging by initial reports, they will have much to say, nd it won’t be wholly supportive.

In an email to party members and on the eve of the publication of a significant review of party funding he has conceded the case for higher tuition fees. The report is expected to reveal that  the current cap on fees, £3290, should be lifted.

The full story is in today’s Observer, which you can read here.

The season of calendar buying is upon us- but calendars being used as a tool of political activism is not something I’ve come across before. Last week a group of Russian journalism students posed for a birthday calendar for Russian PM Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile six students from the same university (the Moscow State University) posed for an alternative calendar in which they symbolically taped their lips together and speech bubbles provided awkward questions, such as ‘Who killed Anna Politkovskaya?’ 

This is a brave and savvy way to challenge the Russian government and is not a form of activism we have seen before.

As Stephanie Merritt points out in her article (which you can read here, see the third story) perhaps a British offering may have Alan Johnson, mouth gaffer taped while asking: ‘Who killed the recovery?’ Any more thoughts on what the other 11 months could depict?