Ed Miliband addresses an audience at 'The Backstage Centre' on May 27, 2014 in Purfleet. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Will there be a Labour reshuffle?

Some MPs are urging Miliband to follow Cameron's example and refresh his team.

Details have started to leak out about the long-planned Conservative reshuffle with employment minister Esther McVey and Treasury minister Nicky Morgan in line for promotion and Andrew Lansley (the frontrunner to become Britain's EU commissioner), George Young and Ken Clarke expected to depart. The changes are likely to be made next week following the Newark by-election and the D-Day commemorations in France.

But surprisingly few have asked whether Ed Miliband will also take the chance to refresh his team. As I've previously reported, some MPs are urging him to do so after briefing that some shadow cabinet ministers are not pulling their weight (to which they replied that they felt "shut out" from the election campaign). One recently told me: "I think Ed has been having to do too much of the heavy lifting on his own for some time. He should be getting more support from his shadow cabinet, more of them should be doing more to make the running and help push the Tories back." A Labour spokesman told me last week that it would be "inappropriate to comment" on the prospect of a reshuffle, which suggests that the option is on the table.

Yet while many in Labour can name MPs they would like to see promoted (Alan Johnson and shadow childcare minister Lucy Powell, Miliband's former deputy chief of staff, are two popular choices), they find it harder to name those who they think should make way. Miliband has already publicly guaranteed Ed Balls his job as shadow chancellor (the post that attracts most media speculation) and will be reluctant to move those who recieved new briefs just last October (there is widespread agreement at Westminster that Cameron's decision to avoid perpetual resuffles has been wise). But don't be surprised if he takes what is likely the final chance before the general election to change his line-up.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Angela Rayner - from teenage mum to the woman who could unify Labour

Corbyn-supporting Rayner mentioned Tony Blair in her speech. 

For those at the Labour party conference feeling pessimistic this September, Angela Rayner’s speech on education may be a rare moment of hope. 

Not only did the shadow education secretary capitalise on one of the few issues uniting the party – opposition to grammar schools – and chart a return to left-wing policies, but she did so while paying tribute to the New Labour legacy. 

Rayner grew up on a Stockport council estate, raised by a mother who could not read nor write. She was, she reminded conference, someone who left school a no-hoper. 

"I left school at 16 pregnant and with no qualifications. Some may argue I was not a great role model for young people. The direction of my life was already set.

"But something happened. Labour's Sure Start centres gave me and my friends, and our children, the support we needed to grow and develop."

Rayner has shown complete loyalty to Jeremy Corbyn throughout the summer, taking two briefs in the depopulated shadow cabinet and speaking at his campaign events.

Nevertheless, as someone who practically benefited from Labour’s policies during its time in government, she is unapologetic about its legacy. She even mentioned the unmentionable, declaring: “Tony Blair talked about education, education, education. Theresa May wants segregation, segregation, segregation.”

As for Rayner's policies, a certain amount of realism underpins her rhetoric. She wants to bring back maintenance grants for low-income students, and the Educational Maintenance Allowance for those in further education. 

But she is not just offering a sop to the middle class. A new childcare taskforce will focus on early education, which she describes as “the most effective drivers of social mobility”. 

Rayner pledged to “put as much effort into expanding, technical, vocational education and meaningful apprenticeships, as we did with higher education”. She declared: "The snobbery about vocational education must end."

Tory critics have questioned the ability of a woman who left school at 16 to be an education secretary, Rayner acknowledged. “I may not have a degree - but I have a Masters in real life,” she said. It could have sounded trite, but her speech delivered the goods. Perhaps she will soon earn her PhD in political instincts too.