Kerry McCarthy lifts the lid on her time as shadow environment secretary

Written by David Singleton on 1 September 2016 in Diary

'When the leader’s office did venture into Defra territory, they didn’t talk to the shadow team.'

Kerry McCarthy has become the latest MP to speak out about her time in the shadow cabinet, saying that Jeremy Corbyn often failed to answer her questions and indicating that his office tended to ignore everything she did.

The former shadow environment secretary’s article for Huffington Post comes days after former shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander criticised Corbyn's "inept, unprofessional and shoddy" tenure.

McCarthy is less forthright, but she does not hide her frustration with Corbyn’s leadership.

On shadow cabinet meetings, she states:

“My concern steadily grew over what I was hearing from colleagues, such as Heidi, Thangam and Lilian, and what I was seeing at shadow cabinet meetings, where Jeremy tended to read from a prepared script, didn’t respond to our questions, and didn’t convey any sense of strategic direction or leadership.”

On the leader’s team not consulting her on anything, she states:

“When the leader’s office did venture into Defra territory, they didn’t talk to the shadow team. We weren’t consulted before Jeremy made his call for the pumps in Bridgwater, Somerset to be moved up to the flood-hit areas of the North, which he later had to backtrack on. And we weren’t asked for our input before Jeremy led on air pollution at PMQs: an issue we’d been doing a lot of work on, challenging government complacency and inaction in the context of the Client Earth court case and the Volkswagen scandal.

On Corbyn ignoring a Brexit briefing paper for some months, she states:

“In February I put together a very detailed PLP brief for the EU referendum campaign on the impact of Brexit on the environment, with some input from the shadow DECC team too, and submitted it for approval. I thought it would help Labour to reach people who were left cold by the transactional nature of the EU debate. That it might inspire young people in particular, and help MPs doing local debates. I also thought it was something Jeremy might feel more comfortable with. But it was sat on for months before it saw the light of day.”

And in what might be something of an understatement, she writes that Corbyn's office was clearly under-staffed and "in a bit of a muddle".




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