Harriet Harman with Ed Miliband at the Labour conference in Brighton last year. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Exclusive: Senior shadow cabinet members felt "shut out" from Labour election campaign

Sources say senior figures such as Harriet Harman, Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper were not given the chance to make high-profile interventions.

In recent weeks, there has been much briefing from Labour sources to the effect that some members of the shadow cabinet (particularly the more experienced ones) haven't been pulling their weight. As I reported yesterday, one senior MP told me that some had effectively "gone on strike". The criticism is that the lack of involvement from some shadow cabinet ministers left Ed Miliband overburdened as he made repeated solo policy announcements. "On the grid it was all Ed, Ed, Ed. There was no one else on it," one figure comments.

But others in the party offer a contrasting take. They suggest that senior shadow cabinet members such as Harriet Harman, Ed Balls, Tristram Hunt and Yvette Cooper wanted to play a more visible role in the campaign but simply weren't given the opportunity to do so. As a result, they were left to devote their time to local trips away from the cameras and low-level speeches and interventions. "There was an absence of women on the campaign trail with Ed. We need to put it right for next year," one source said, expressing surprise at how few members (with the exception of Rachel Reeves) shared a platform with Miliband. "The reality is that you only achieve cut-through when it's a joint intervention with the leader," the source added.

While the focus on Miliband is regarded as inevitable in an increasingly presidential age, many in Labour believe that the party's other big beasts deserve greater prominence. One theory is that Harman (who, as deputy leader, would be expected to play a key role) has been sidelined after a much-publicised falling out at the end of last year with Douglas Alexander. Harman reportedly "went crazy" at the shadow foreign secretary over his running of the party's general election campaign and the lack of responsibility given to women. "She feels shut out from it all," a source told me.With the local election campaign treated as a "dry run" for the general election by Alexander, the question is how and whether this will change before May 2015.

Meanwhile, several MPs have told me today that they would like Miliband to reshuffle his team at the first possible opportunity.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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France to bulldoze Calais Jungle days after child refugees arrive in the UK

The camp houses thousands. 

Refugees and migrants in Calais began queuing up for buses this morning as the French authorities plan to demolish the "Jungle" camp.

But activists fear that, unless France significantly speeds up its asylum process, the displaced people will simply move to other camps along the northern French coast.

Meanwhile, the first children of Calais brought to the UK under the Dubs Amendment arrived at the weekend.

The camp known as the Jungle, in a wasteland by the port of Calais, is actually the latest manifestation in a series of camps established since 1999, when a French reception centre became too crowded.

However, it has swelled as a result of the refugee crisis, and attempts by residents to sneak onto lorries entering the Channel Tunnel have become daily occurences. The French authorities bulldozed part of it earlier this year.

Ahead of the latest demolishment, which is expected to happen on Tuesday, Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, said: “In February this year over 50 per cent of the camp was demolished and yet six months later the camp is bigger than it has ever been before. 

"This is clear evidence that demolitions do not act as a deterrent.  The refugees come because they have no choice."

Future refugees will go to other camps with even less facilities, she warned.

The camp houses thousands of residents, but because of the authorities' unwillingness to legitimise it, there is no official presence. Instead, the residents must rely on volunteer aid services and have little means to stop intruders entering. 

Although conditions in the camp can be dire, residents have created a high street with basic tent shops and restaurants catering to the needs of its displaced population. Many of those in the camp say they are there because they hope to be reunited with family in Britain, or they have given up on ever being processed by the French authorities. 

After the UK government was pressurised into passing the Dubs Amendment, which provides sanctuary to unaccompanied child refugees, some children from the camp have arrived in the UK. The first group is reportedly mostly girls from Eritrea, who will be processed at a UK immigration centre.

One of the MPs crucial to ensuring the Dubs Amendment delivered, Stella Creasy, said many more still needed help. 

Children reunited with their families under the Dublin Convention arrived in the UK last week, although their arrival was overshadowed by a debate over age checks.  

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.