Ed Miliband's Mandelson

Stewart Wood is named a Labour peer and will become shadow minister without portfolio.

Of the new Labour peers, the two that stand out are Stewart Wood, the former Oxford don who currently who serves as Ed Miliband's chief strategist and Maurice Glasman, one of the leaders of London Citizens and the father of "Blue Labour".

Wood, in particular, will take on an expanded and more visible role within the party. He will now attend shadow cabinet and will act as shadow minister without portfolio, shadowing Sayeeda Warsi. Wood, who previously served as Gordon Brown's foreign affairs adviser, is also expected to work closely with Cabinet Office minister Liam Byrne on Labour's policy review. Labour List's Mark Ferguson reports that he will lead Miliband's "intellectual work and the development of his long-term political agenda." The size and scope of Wood's responsibilities will see him take on an almost Mandelson-like role as Miliband's chief consigliere.

One could see it as a reward for the years in which he endured Gordon Brown's temper tantrums.

Below is a full list of the new Labour peers.

* Dame Joan Bakewell DBE - writer and broadcaster
* Ray Collins - General Secretary of the Labour Party
* Maurice Glasman - Senior Lecturer in political theory at London Metropolitan University and for his work with London Citizens
* Jonathan Kestenbaum - businessman and Chief Executive of National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts
* Oona King - Head of Diversity at Channel 4 Television and former Labour MP; currently journalist and presenter
* Ruth Lister - Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at Loughbrough University
* Eluned Morgan - former Labour MEP representing Mid and West Wales; currently Honorary Distinguished Professor at Cardiff University and for her work on low carbon energy
* Sir Gulam Noon MBE - Chairman and Founder of Noon Products and of the Noon Foundation
* Stewart Wood - former Downing Street and HMT special adviser, lecturer at University of Oxford; previously Fellow of Magdalen College and co-founder of Nexus
* Bryony Worthington - career focusing on promoting environmental and social change

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Rarely has it mattered so little if Manchester United won; rarely has it been so special they did

Team's Europa League victory offers chance for sorely needed celebration of a city's spirit.

Carlo Ancelotti, the Bayern Munich manager, memorably once said that football is “the most important of the least important things”, but he was only partly right. While it is absolutely the case that a bunch of people chasing around a field is insignificant, a bunch of people chasing around a field is not really what football is about.

At a football match can you set aside the strictures that govern real life and freely scream, shout and cuddle strangers. Football tracks life with such unfailing omnipresence, garnishing the mundane with regular doses of drama and suspense; football is amazing, and even when it isn’t there’s always the possibility that it’s about to be.

Football bestows primal paroxysms of intense, transcendent ecstasy, shared both with people who mean everything and people who mean nothing. Football carves out time for people it's important to see and delivers people it becomes important to see. Football is a structure with folklore, mythology, language and symbols; being part of football is being part of something big, special, and eternal. Football is the best thing in the world when things go well, and still the best thing in the world when they don’t. There is nothing remotely like it. Nothing.

Football is about community and identity, friends and family; football is about expression and abandon, laughter and song; football is about love and pride. Football is about all the beauty in the world.

And the world is a beautiful place, even though it doesn’t always seem that way – now especially. But in the horror of terror we’ve seen amazing kindness, uplifting unity and awesome dignity which is the absolute point of everything.

In Stockholm last night, 50,000 or so people gathered for a football match, trying to find a way of celebrating all of these things. Around town before the game the atmosphere was not as boisterous as usual, but in the ground the old conviction gradually returned. The PA played Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds, an Ajax staple with lyrics not entirely appropriate: there is plenty about which to worry, and for some every little thing is never going to be alright.

But somehow the sentiment felt right and the Mancunian contingent joined in with gusto, following it up with “We’ll never die,” – a song of defiance born from the ashes of the Munich air disaster and generally aired at the end of games, often when defeat is imminent. Last night it was needed from the outset, though this time its final line – “we’ll keep the red flag flying high, coz Man United will never die" – was not about a football team but a city, a spirit, and a way of life. 

Over the course of the night, every burst of song and even the minute's silence chorused with that theme: “Manchester, Manchester, Manchester”; “Manchester la la la”; “Oh Manchester is wonderful”. Sparse and simple words, layered and complex meanings.

The match itself was a curious affair. Rarely has it mattered so little whether or not United won; rarely has it been so special that they did. Manchester United do not represent or appeal to everyone in Manchester but they epitomise a similar brilliance to Manchester, brilliance which they take to the world. Brilliance like youthfulness, toughness, swagger and zest; brilliance which has been to the fore these last three days, despite it all.

Last night they drew upon their most prosaic aspects, outfighting and outrunning a willing but callow opponent to win the only trophy to have eluded them. They did not make things better, but they did bring happiness and positivity at a time when happiness and positivity needed to be brought; football is not “the most important of the least important things,” it is the least important of the most important things.

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