The new shadow chancellor could be transformative—if she is not afraid to make enemiesby Rachel Sylvester / June 18, 2020 / Leave a comment
Shortly after her appointment as Shadow Chancellor, Anneliese Dodds was doing a live interview for Sky TV from her Oxford home. Just as she started to discuss the economic implications of the coronavirus pandemic, the door behind her swung open and her three-year-old daughter burst into the room. Unperturbed, the 42-year-old MP smiled broadly and carried on debating the importance of balancing the risks before admitting that she had hoped Isabella would stay asleep, but “she’s thankfully under the chair now.”
It’s hard to imagine such a human interaction from her predecessor John McDonnell, the hard man of the left who once listed his interests in Who’s Who as “fermenting [sic] the overthrow of capitalism.” Margaret Hodge, the veteran Labour MP, recalls the first time she met Dodds, at a tax justice event in the House of Commons a few years ago. “She arrived with this baby, just three weeks old, and was feeding her but she also managed the event without any fuss. She was incredibly articulate and clear, with terrific analysis. I think she’s absolutely brilliant. I can’t see her falling out with people but she’s also got that bit of steel.
Labour’s first female shadow chancellor appears to have achieved the virtually impossible task in politics of being almost universally popular. Even in the factional, sectarian world of the Labour Party the former MEP, who was only elected to the House of Commons in 2017, seems to have emerged from the in-fighting remarkably unscathed. One Labour frontbencher says: “Everybody likes her, she has never caused me any reason to be offended or even mildly irritated, that’s her key strength. It’s very hard to be angry with her even when the Treasury team is saying ‘don’t commit to spending any money’.”
Seb Dance, who became an MEP at the same time as Dodds, describes her as “massively intelligent” and “very collegiate.” “When we were elected to the European Parliament there was quite a broad range of political backgrounds in the party, people from the left and the right, I don’t think there’s a single one of my colleagues who ever had a cross word with her or found her impossible to work with,” he says. “She’s incredibly empathetic, she listens to everybody and she combines attention to detail with an…