Shadow childcare minister Lucy Powell, who previously served as Ed Miliband's deputy chief of staff.
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Miliband may use Labour reshuffle to achieve half-female shadow cabinet

Lucy Powell and Luciana Berger tipped for promotion. 

After David Cameron's Night of the Long Knives, talk in Westminster is turning to the changes Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg may make to their top teams ahead of the election. 

Miliband is not expected to carry out a major reshuffle, with key figures such as Ed Balls, Douglas Alexander, Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham all remaining in their current posts, but he is keen to "freshen" Labour's line-up in the words of of one source. One possibility is that he will seek to ensure that at least half of places are held by women, a pledge he made during his 2010 leadership campaign. At present, women make up 44 per cent of the shadow cabinet, putting Miliband within touching distance of the target. By contrast, even after Cameron's recent reshuffle, just 25 per cent of the cabinet are female.

Two of those tipped for promotion by Labour sources are Lucy Powell and Luciana Berger, both of whom voted for Miliband in 2010. Powell, the shadow childcare minister, formerly served as Miliband's deputy chief of staff and has impressed since being elevated to the frontbench a year after winning the Manchester Central by-election in 2012. Her media profile has risen in recent months (she appeared on Newsnight last Friday following Miliband's speech on leadership) and she is already spoken of by some in the party as a future leader. 

Berger, the MP for Liverpool Wavertree, is regarded is one of the most impressive of Labour's 2010 intake and has enjoyed several notable successes since becoming shadow public health minister in the 2013 reshuffle, including achieving parliamentary support for legislation to ban smoking in cars with children. 

Miliband will also need to decide whether to bring back "big beasts", such as Alan Johnson and Alistair Darling, to add experience to his young team ahead of the election campaign. Among those who have called for the return of Johnson, one of the most popular MPs in the country, are John Prescott, Len McCluskey (who previously attacked him as a Blairite retread) and Tom Watson. But it is unclear whether the former home secretary, who will publish the second volume of his memoirs later this year, would wish to return to the shadow cabinet after resigning in 2011 as shadow chancellor. 

Darling has long said that he will decide on his future after the Scottish independence referendum (he leads the No campaign) in September and he has been touted by commentators as a possible replacement for Balls as shadow chancellor. But there is no prospect of him returning in this role; Miliband has publicly guaranteed Balls's position and Darling is regarded as too associated with the last Labour government. 

As I've written before, the appointment of the man who was Chancellor at the time of the financial crisis would be a political gift to the Tories. Osborne and Cameron make much of Balls's Treasury past, but how many outside of Westminster know that he was City minister from 2006-07, or that he previously served as Brown's special adviser? Voters are more likely to remember him for his time as Schools Secretary than his time as Brown's brain. 

Clegg, meanwhile, plans to promote business minister Jo Swinson to Scottish Secretary following the independence referendum, finally giving the Lib Dems their first female cabinet minister. Had Swinson not been on maternity leave at the time of the 2013 reshuffle it is likely that she, rather than Alistair Carmichael, would have replaced Michael Moore in the role. 

Both the Labour and Lib Dem reshuffles are expected to take place after the autumn conference season. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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