And so the wait is over. Ed Miliband released his full Opposition Frontbench team. Mark Lazarowicz, the Scottish MP who was the Shadow Minister of State for International Development is out of the team. He is replaced by a certain Mr. Tony Cunningham. As seen from the Parliamentary biography, Mr. Cunningham biggest experience is being the Private Parliamentary Secretary to the then Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. A closer look on his official website, he has some development experience having being a Voluntary Service Organisation (VSO) volunteer . As he stated:
After that I taught in a comprehensive school for four years. before moving to do VSO in East Africa. I spent two years in Zanzibar. When I was there I played two seasons of first division football for Malindi FC.
We finished second in our league in one season, and I played in front of crowds of 5,000 or 6,000.
My time in Africa politicised me. Seeing poverty at first hand changed the way I looked at things
Further evidence of his interest in development can be see by another paragraph further down:
In 1995 I wrote a report on landmines – the Cunningham Report was the very first to call for an outright ban on landmines – and in 1999 I wrote the development committee budget. It was a £2.8bn budget, and it included increased funding for Aids projects in Africa.
So Mr. Cunningham does care about International Development, as Mr. Lazarowicz did. But CVs and personal claims are just one thing–will he and Ivan Lewis inject real development-centred work into the Shadow Team as Andrew Mitchell & Co. did when the Tories were in opposition? Or, given the Mr. Cunningham was a Labour Whip for many years, will he only turn out to be a Harriet Harman type clone and drone about Labour’s “achievements” in development?
Welcome Tony Cunningham. Farewell Mark Lazarowicz. You were a great Shadow Minister.
Update: Mark Lazarowicz gave his reason here why he left the Shadow team. He wanted to spend more time with his constituents.