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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Can Philip Hammond save the Conservatives from public anger at their DUP deal?

The Chancellor has the wriggle room to get close to the DUP's spending increase – but emotion matters more than facts in politics.

The magic money tree exists, and it is growing in Northern Ireland. That’s the attack line that Labour will throw at Theresa May in the wake of her £1bn deal with the DUP to keep her party in office.

It’s worth noting that while £1bn is a big deal in terms of Northern Ireland’s budget – just a touch under £10bn in 2016/17 – as far as the total expenditure of the British government goes, it’s peanuts.

The British government spent £778bn last year – we’re talking about spending an amount of money in Northern Ireland over the course of two years that the NHS loses in pen theft over the course of one in England. To match the increase in relative terms, you’d be looking at a £35bn increase in spending.

But, of course, political arguments are about gut instinct rather than actual numbers. The perception that the streets of Antrim are being paved by gold while the public realm in England, Scotland and Wales falls into disrepair is a real danger to the Conservatives.

But the good news for them is that last year Philip Hammond tweaked his targets to give himself greater headroom in case of a Brexit shock. Now the Tories have experienced a shock of a different kind – a Corbyn shock. That shock was partly due to the Labour leader’s good campaign and May’s bad campaign, but it was also powered by anger at cuts to schools and anger among NHS workers at Jeremy Hunt’s stewardship of the NHS. Conservative MPs have already made it clear to May that the party must not go to the country again while defending cuts to school spending.

Hammond can get to slightly under that £35bn and still stick to his targets. That will mean that the DUP still get to rave about their higher-than-average increase, while avoiding another election in which cuts to schools are front-and-centre. But whether that deprives Labour of their “cuts for you, but not for them” attack line is another question entirely. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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