Labour and government reshuffles: live updates

The news of who's up and who's down as David Cameron and Ed Miliband refresh their teams.

18:17pm With both reshuffles complete, we're going to end the live blog now. 

We'll be back in the morning with more comment and analysis as Labour announces further changes to its shadow ministerial team. 

18:05pm The wife of Robert Syms, who was sacked as a Conservative whip, has taken to Twitter to express her outrage.

17:58pm Downing Street has posted a full list of all ministeral appointments announced today here

17:16pm There's been much talk of how Maria Eagle's departure as shadow transport secretary (she is now shadow environment secretary) could pave the way for a Labour U-turn over High Speed 2. But during this afternoon's reshuffle briefing, the party's spokesman emphasised that Mary Creagh is a "supporter of HS2" and that "there is no change in the party's position".

17:07pm You can view the new shadow cabinet in full here. Another change worth noting is that Wayne David has become PPS to Miliband, joining Karen Buck. That means the well-regarded Jonathan Reynolds, who has served as PPS to Miliband since 2011, can expect a promotion in tomorrow's junior-level reshuffle. 

16:51pm The Tories have responded to Labour's reshuffle by declaring that Len McCluskey has got his "dream team", a reference to my interview with him in which he famously called for Douglas Alexander, Liam Byrne and Jim Murphy ("the Blairites") to be ignored or sacked. 

But while Byrne has lost his post as shadow work and pensions secretary (he remains on the frontbench as higher education spokesman) and Murphy has been demoted to shadow international development spokesman (from shadow defence), this reshuffle is far from a lurch to the left. 

Tristram Hunt (shadow education) and Gloria De Piero (shadow women and equalities), two "Blairite" figures, have both received major promotions, while Douglas Alexander, one of those singled out by McCluskey, has been appointed chair of general election strategy. In addition, Lord Falconer, a former cabinet minister under Tony Blair, will advise Miliband on "planning and transition" into government. 

By any measure, this was not a "purge of the Blairites". 

16:30pm Ed Miliband has now completed his shadow cabinet reshuffle. Here are all the details: 

- Douglas Alexander has been named as chair of general election strategy and planning. He remains shadow foreign secretary. 

- Spencer Livermore, Gordon Brown's former director of strategy, has been appointed general election campaign director. 

- Lord Falconer, who served as Lord Chancellor under Tony Blair, will advise Miliband on "planning and transition" into government. 

- Tristram Hunt has been named shadow education secretary. He replaces Stephen Twigg, who becomes shadow minister of state for justice. 

- Rachel Reeves is now shadow work and pensions secretary. She replaces Liam Byrne, who becomes Labour's higher education spokesman. 

- Chris Leslie, the current shadow financial secretary to the Treasury, replaces Reeves as shadow chief secretary. 

- Vernon Coaker is the new shadow defence secretary. He replaces Jim Murphy, who is now shadow international development secretary.

- Ivan Lewis, the current shadow international development secretary, replaces Coaker as shadow Northern Ireland secretary. 

- Gloria De Piero has been promoted to shadow minister for women and equalities. 

- Emma Reynolds has been promoted from shadow Europe minister to shadow housing minister (attending shadow cabinet). 

- Maria Eagle is now shadow environment secretary and has been replaced as shadow transport secretary by Mary Creagh. 

- Michael Dugher has been promoted from minister without portfolio to shadow Cabinet Office minister. He retains responsibility for political and campaign communications. 

- A Labour spokesman told The Staggers that the reshuffle had focused on "rewarding some of our most talented women and younger MPs."

- After the changes, 44% of the shadow cabinet are women (up from 40%) and 31% were elected in 2010.

- Further frontbench appointments will be announced tomorrow, with those who have been overlooked today, such as Stella Creasy, in line for new posts. 

15:49pm After months of Conservative attacks against Andy Burnham over his record as health secretary, some commentators have advised Miliband to move Burnham to neutralise the Tories' offensive. But the BBC is reporting that he will remain in post; that will go down well with Labour MPs and party members among whom he is one of the most popular shadow cabinet members. 

15:42pm As I reported earlier, Liam Byrne has lost his job as shadow work and pensions secretary but it's just emerged that he will remain on the front-bench as higher education spokesman. 

15:41pm After the demotion of Jim Murphy (see 14:48pm) and the sacking of Liam Byrne and Stephen Twigg, the Tories are seeking to frame Labour's reshuffle as "anti-Blairite". But the confirmation that Tristram Hunt, one of the "Blairites for Ed", has been appointed as shadow eduation secretary, will make that task a little harder. 

15:34pm Elsewhere on The Staggers, our resident Scottish nationalist James Maxwell has written on why Michael Moore's departure as Scottish Secretary could weaken the No side. He argues: 

Moore’s sacking is a classic Westminster misreading of the Scottish situation. London is obsessed with the idea that a big hitter” is needed to "take on" Salmond. Yet quite apart from the fact that Carmichael is hardly a "big hitter", the First Minister relishes (and has a habit of winning) confrontations that allow him to pit plucky, populist Holyrood against the big, clunking fist of Whitehall. Moore was a formidable opponent because his measured, moderate unionism was difficult for the nationalists to deal with. For no good reason at all, the no campaign has just dumped one of its strongest cards.

15:10pm Michael Dugher, currently vice-chair, is to replace Jon Trickett as shadow Cabinet Office minister. He's also one of the candidates for the post of campaign co-ordinator, although that is expected to go to Douglas Alexander. 

15:08pm Liz Kendall, who is currently shadow care minister, has secured a high-ranking post, according to Raf. We're waiting to hear which one, but she has been in the running to replace Stephen Twigg at education. 

14:58pm Raf suggests Miliband's changes are aimed at giving the shadow cabinet the political cover to talk about public service reform.

14:48pm The Labour reshufle is now underway, with Jim Murphy reportedly demoted from shadow defence to shadow international development. 

Liam Byrne's departure is likely to be officially confirmed shortly; we expect him to be replaced as shadow work and pensions secretary by Rachel Reeves. 

As I noted earlier (see 10:45am), Len McCluskey told me in my interview with him earlier this year that he wanted Douglas Alexander, Murphy and Byrne to be ignored or sacked. While Murphy has been demoted and Byrne sacked, Alexander is expected to be named as Labour's new campaign co-ordinator. 

14:30pm Following Jeremy Browne's surprise sacking as Home Office minister (see 13:49pm), here's Nick Clegg's notably terse letter to him. 

More than three years into the coalition, we're still waiting for a defection, could Browne provide it? In his recent interview with Raf, he praised David Cameron for identifying "the big issue of our time" in the form of "the global race" and went on to laud the theme again in a piece for Coffee House. After previously attempting to woo David Laws, will the Tories be giving Browne a call? 

Dear Jeremy

I want to thank you for the key role  you have played in government over the past three years, first as Minister of State at the Foreign Office and latterly as Minister of State in the Home Office.

You have made a hugely valuable political contribution to the coalition over the past three years both as a highly able representative of the UK to other nations and more recently dealing with the many domestic challenges that face the Home Office.

It is always very difficult to move colleagues out of government but as you know, I have always been keen that we provide the opportunity for as many in our ranks as possible to contribute their skills to Ministerial office during this Parliament so that, just as the government has benefited from your contribution over the past three years, it can also gain from those of other colleagues in the remaining years of this parliament.

I am immensely grateful to you for your commitment and support over the past few years. You have made a major contribution to this historic coalition government and as one of the very few ministers who have served in two departments, I have no doubt there will be an opportunity for your experience to be deployed in government in the future.

Yours sincerely

Nick Clegg

14:20pm It's been another good reshuffle for the Osbornites, with the Chancellor's former chief of staff Matthew Hancock promoted to minister of state for skills and enterprise. Earlier today, Greg Hands, Osborne's former PPS, was named deputy chief whip and Sajid Javid, another former Osborne PPS, was promoted to Financial Secretary to the Treasury. 

13:59pm Jeremy Browne, who was dramatically sacked as Home Office minister (see 13:49pm), has been replaced by Norman Baker, who is currently at Transport. Given Baker's belief that David Kelly was murdered (outlined in his book The Strange Death of David Kelly) it's an appointment that will rise eyebrows among the Tories. 

13:54pm I noted earlier that some Lib Dems are disappointed that the party still lacks a single female cabinet minister, with Jo Swinson overlooked for Scottish Secretary, but Open Europe's Pawel Swidlicki has offered a possible explanation: she's due to go on maternity leave next year. 

13:49pm In the most surprising news of the day so far, Jeremy Browne, a close ideological ally of Clegg, has been sacked as home office minister. You can read Raf's recent interview with him, in which he attacked Labour and praised David Cameron, here

13:38pm While David Cameron is using his reshuffle to promote Tory women, after today's changes, the Lib Dems are still without a single female cabinet minister.

Jo Swinson has long been regarded as cabinet material but was snubbed in favour of party chief whip Alistair Carmichael, who replaced Michael Moore as Scottish Secretary this morning. After being challenged on this point by Lib Dem councillor Matthew Hulbert, party president Tim Farron replied: "I've argued that we should have them!" He added that he would "love to have Lynne [Featherstone] or Jo [Swinson] in the cabinet."

13:34pm Mark Prisk has been sacked as housing minister. With polls showing that the issue is rising in importance to voters, his replacement will be worth noting. 

13:31pm After Sajid Javid's promotion (see 12:46pm), Nicky Morgan has replaced him as Economic Secretary to the Treasury becoming the first woman in what was previously an all-male line up. 

12:53pm Rachel Reeves, who has long been in line for a promotion, has just been spotted heading towards Ed Miliband's office. We're tipping her to replace Liam Byrne as shadow work and pensions secretary. 

12:46pm The much-praised Sajid Javid has been promoted to Financial Secretary to the Treasury after serving for a year as Economic Secretary. Widely amired for his energy and intellect (he became a vice president at Chase Manhattan at 25), he is likely to be in the cabinet before the election. 

12:38pm Esther McVey, who is currently minister for disabled people, has been appointed employment minister. With the Tories briefing that Cameron is looking to give more prominence to women and northerners, she was always a safe bet for a promotion. 

12:02pm Richard Benyon, who is, among other things, Britain's wealthiest MP, has stepped down as parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

12:01pm Tim Farron, a reliably amusing tweeter (who I interviewed last month), has greeted Foster's appointment.

11:49am Lib Dem Don Foster, currently at the Department for Communities and Local Government, has replaced Alistair Carmichael as the party's chief whip.

Earlier this morning, it was announced that Carmichael had replaced Michael Moore as Scottish Secretary. 

11:37am Among the appointments Ed Miliband is likely to announce today is that of campaign co-ordinator, the post Tom Watson resigned from in July. I listed the runners and riders at the time, including Douglas Alexander, Michael Dugher and Sadiq Khan. 

Our sources suggest that Alexander, who ran the 2010 general election campaign and is widely admired for his intellect and strategic nous, is most likely to get the nod. 

11:25am Maria Eagle has lost her post as shadow transport secretary, a move that could pave the way for a Labour U-turn over High Speed 2. 

Eagle has been a champion of the project and notably reaffirmed Labour's support for it in her conference speech after Ed Balls questioned whether it was "the best way to spend £50bn for the future of our country".

Some in Labour would like to transfer funds from HS2 to more electorally popular projects such as a mass housebuilding programme. As Balls has recognised (he remarked at a fringe meeting that the money could be used for "building new homes or new schools or new hospitals"), the move would allow Labour to differentiate itself from the Tories while remaining within George Osborne's fiscal envelope. Eagle's departure has removed one of the obstacles to doing so. 

10:45am As Miliband reshuffles the shadow cabinet, expect the Tories to be watching the fate of "the Blairites" closely. In his famous interview with me earlier this year, Len McCluskey suggested that Douglas Alexander, Jim Murphy and Liam Byrne (who he dubbed "the Blairites") should be ignored or sacked. 

The Unite general secretary said of Byrne: 

Byrne certainly doesn’t reflect the views of my members and of our union’s policy. I think some of the terminology that he uses is regrettable and I think it will damage Labour. Ed’s got to figure out what his team will be.

And of Alexander and Murphy:

If he gets seduced by the Jim Murphys and the Douglas Alexanders, then the truth is that he’ll be defeated and he’ll be cast into the dustbin of history.

As I've previously reported, Byrne, currently shadow work and pensions secretary, is likely to be replaced by Rachel Reeves. If other "Blarite" figures, such as Stephen Twigg and Jim Murphy, are also axed, expect the Tories to brand this "Len's reshuffle". 

Reeves is likely to be replaced as shadow chief secretary to the Treasury by Chris Leslie, the current shadow financial secretary to the Treasury, who covered for her while she was on maternity leave over the summer. 

10:30am After months of speculation, all three party leaders are reshuffling their teams today. We'll be bringing you live updates as they do. 

The first casualty of the day was Lib Dem Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, who was sacked by Nick Clegg and replaced by Lib Dem chief whip Alistair Carmichael. You can read Clegg's letter to Moore and Moore's response here. No further cabinet-level changes will take place. 

Ahead of David Cameron's reshuffle of junior ministers, deputy chief whip John Randall and Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith resigned from their positions last night. 

On the Labour side, shadow justice minister Rob Flello and shadow minister for disabled people Anne Maguire have stood down in advance of Miliband's changes to his team.

David Cameron and Ed Miliband walk through the Members' Lobby to listen to the Queen's Speech at the State Opening of Parliament on May 8, 2013. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Getty
Show Hide image

Is defeat in Stoke the beginning of the end for Paul Nuttall?

The Ukip leader was his party's unity candidate. But after his defeat in Stoke, the old divisions are beginning to show again

In a speech to Ukip’s spring conference in Bolton on February 17, the party’s once and probably future leader Nigel Farage laid down the gauntlet for his successor, Paul Nuttall. Stoke’s by-election was “fundamental” to the future of the party – and Nuttall had to win.
 
One week on, Nuttall has failed that test miserably and thrown the fundamental questions hanging over Ukip’s future into harsh relief. 

For all his bullish talk of supplanting Labour in its industrial heartlands, the Ukip leader only managed to increase the party’s vote share by 2.2 percentage points on 2015. This paltry increase came despite Stoke’s 70 per cent Brexit majority, and a media narrative that was, until the revelations around Nuttall and Hillsborough, talking the party’s chances up.
 
So what now for Nuttall? There is, for the time being, little chance of him resigning – and, in truth, few inside Ukip expected him to win. Nuttall was relying on two well-rehearsed lines as get-out-of-jail free cards very early on in the campaign. 

The first was that the seat was a lowly 72 on Ukip’s target list. The second was that he had been leader of party whose image had been tarnished by infighting both figurative and literal for all of 12 weeks – the real work of his project had yet to begin. 

The chances of that project ever succeeding were modest at the very best. After yesterday’s defeat, it looks even more unlikely. Nuttall had originally stated his intention to run in the likely by-election in Leigh, Greater Manchester, when Andy Burnham wins the Greater Manchester metro mayoralty as is expected in May (Wigan, the borough of which Leigh is part, voted 64 per cent for Brexit).

If he goes ahead and stands – which he may well do – he will have to overturn a Labour majority of over 14,000. That, even before the unedifying row over the veracity of his Hillsborough recollections, was always going to be a big challenge. If he goes for it and loses, his leadership – predicated as it is on his supposed ability to win votes in the north - will be dead in the water. 

Nuttall is not entirely to blame, but he is a big part of Ukip’s problem. I visited Stoke the day before The Guardian published its initial report on Nuttall’s Hillsborough claims, and even then Nuttall’s campaign manager admitted that he was unlikely to convince the “hard core” of Conservative voters to back him. 

There are manifold reasons for this, but chief among them is that Nuttall, despite his newfound love of tweed, is no Nigel Farage. Not only does he lack his name recognition and box office appeal, but the sad truth is that the Tory voters Ukip need to attract are much less likely to vote for a party led by a Scouser whose platform consists of reassuring working-class voters their NHS and benefits are safe.
 
It is Farage and his allies – most notably the party’s main donor Arron Banks – who hold the most power over Nuttall’s future. Banks, who Nuttall publicly disowned as a non-member after he said he was “sick to death” of people “milking” the Hillsborough disaster, said on the eve of the Stoke poll that Ukip had to “remain radical” if it wanted to keep receiving his money. Farage himself has said the party’s campaign ought to have been “clearer” on immigration. 

Senior party figures are already briefing against Nuttall and his team in the Telegraph, whose proprietors are chummy with the beer-swilling Farage-Banks axis. They deride him for his efforts to turn Ukip into “NiceKip” or “Nukip” in order to appeal to more women voters, and for the heavy-handedness of his pitch to Labour voters (“There were times when I wondered whether I’ve got a purple rosette or a red one on”, one told the paper). 

It is Nuttall’s policy advisers - the anti-Farage awkward squad of Suzanne Evans, MEP Patrick O’Flynn (who famously branded Farage "snarling, thin-skinned and aggressive") and former leadership candidate Lisa Duffy – come in for the harshest criticism. Herein lies the leader's almost impossible task. Despite having pitched to members as a unity candidate, the two sides’ visions for Ukip are irreconcilable – one urges him to emulate Trump (who Nuttall says he would not have voted for), and the other urges a more moderate tack. 

Endorsing his leader on Question Time last night, Ukip’s sole MP Douglas Carswell blamed the legacy of the party’s Tea Party-inspired 2015 general election campaign, which saw Farage complain about foreigners with HIV using the NHS in ITV’s leaders debate, for the party’s poor performance in Stoke. Others, such as MEP Bill Etheridge, say precisely the opposite – that Nuttall must be more like Farage. 

Neither side has yet called for Nuttall’s head. He insists he is “not going anywhere”. With his febrile party no stranger to abortive coup and counter-coup, he is unlikely to be the one who has the final say.