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Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in United Kingdom

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in the History

The role of Shadow Chancellor is tricky to define. They shadow the Chancellor of the Exchequer but as there are no constitutional stipulations regarding this role. It is a position which is given by the discretion of the party leader. Some oppositions (such as Thatcher’s before her election) have opted not to have a Shadow Chancellor. Kinnock appointed John Smith as Shadow Chancellor in 1987. Smith was noted as a very apt and witty speaker who, despite his quiet manner, had the ability to be scathing. He was named ‘Parliamentarian of the Year’ on two occasions whilst in opposition, for his performances against Leon Brittan and Nigel Lawson respectively. Traditionally the relationships between party leaders and their chancellors have been interesting. Take Blair and Brown, as a more recent example of this. Often the Shadow Chancellor is the number two and next in line to be party leader. They often try to distance themselves from leaders’ decisions that could be detrimental to their own campaigns. In the build up to the 1992 election, Smith had a plan to scrap Tory plans for a 1p reduction in income tax and replace it with a 1p cut in national insurance rates instead. Smith didn’t tell Kinnock this, fearing he would release it in the Shadow Budget when it was meant to be a surprise. These tensions culminated in an arranged press dinner at Luigi’s Restaurant in the West End when Kinnock showed his hand. The party had previously dropped the idea of phasing in higher national income contributions over the lifetime of parliament but Kinnock drew the press’s attention to an early policy document, which said Labour retained the option of phasing in the contributions, contrary to what Smith had said. The press jumped on this and reported on the rift between Kinnock and Smith. John Smith became the Leader of the Opposition following Kinnock’s resignation after the 1992 election defeat. He died of a heart attack in 1994.



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  • Article Name: Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • Author: B. Hepple
  • Description: Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in the History The role of Shadow Chancellor is tricky to define. They shadow the [...]

This entry was last updated: April 8, 2015

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