Lucy Powell, who has been named vice chair of Labour's election campaign, speaks in parliament. Photograph: BBC.
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Miliband promotes key allies Lucy Powell and Jon Trickett in Labour reshuffle

Powell is named vice chair of the election campaign with left-winger Trickett made a senior adviser. 

With just six months remaining until the general election, Ed Miliband has brought some of his most loyal allies to the centre. That is the key theme of tonight's Labour shadow cabinet reshuffle.

Lucy Powell, who managed Miliband's leadership campaign and later served as his deputy chief of staff, has been promoted from shadow childcare minister to shadow cabinet office minister (joining the shadow cabinet as a full member) and has also been named vice chair of the general election campaign (operations).

As well as giving greater prominence to one of the most talented and impressive young MPs (she entered parliament after the Manchester Central by-election in November 2012), the move addresses complaints about the lack of women involved in the election team and puts Miliband just one move away from his target of a gender-balanced shadow cabinet (of those attending, 17 are men and 15 are women). I tipped her for promotion back in July.

With Powell taking on responsibility for election operations, the appointment has been seen by some in the party as a snub to campaign chair Douglas Alexander, who retains control of strategy. One MP told me: "Douglas is the loser from this reshuffle." 

The other most significant move is the appointment of shadow minister without portfolio and deputy chair Jon Trickett as a senior adviser in the leader's office. Expect Trickett, a proud socialist and the voice of the left in the shadow cabinet, to focus on ensuring Miliband doesn't lose his radical edge.

Like Powell, the working class Hemsworth MP played a key role in Miliband's leadership campaign, providing the psephological analysis (the "five million votes" lost between 1997 and 2010) that convinced him to break with New Labour. Indeed, long before that, in 2005, Trickett, who studied under Ralph Miliband at Leeds University, told Miliband that he should he think of himself as a future leader. 

In a recent piece for The Staggers, he wrote:

You only need to see the failure of the international banking system, or the dismal record of the British housing market, or to look to the American health system to see how private provision of social goods can fail. And yet you could be mistaken in believing that they are incontestable truths.

So deeply entrenched are these ideas that it is easier to imagine the end of our planet (or at least the end of humanity as a result of some disaster) than it is to imagine that we human beings can build a different kind of country with a different set of values.

But that has to be our task. And it may not be as hard to achieve as we imagine.

Because most people know that the present system is bust. There is a spirit of dissent in the country. It is the common sense of our times that Britain is not working properly for the millions, though it works well for the millionaires.

There is a cynicism about the media who perpetually fail to report the truth as most people experience it. And there is contempt for a Westminster government which is seen as remote and failing to address the fact that so many are feeling increasingly hard up.

In other changes, Mary Creagh has replaced Jim Murphy (who resigned from the shadow cabinet on Sunday in order to focus on his Scottish leadership campaign) as shadow international development secretary with Michael Dugher replacing her as shadow transport secretary. In addition, Anas Sarwar, who stood down as Scottish Labour deputy leader last week, has been named shadow international development minister with Alison McGovern, who previously held the role, taking Powell's place as shadow minister for children and families. 

Here's the new shadow cabinet in full. 


Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party
Ed Miliband MP

Shadow Deputy Prime Minister, Party Chair and Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Harriet Harman MP

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
Ed Balls MP

Shadow Foreign Secretary and Chair of General Election Campaign (Strategy)
Douglas Alexander MP

Shadow Home Secretary
Yvette Cooper MP

Shadow Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Justice and Shadow Minister for London
Sadiq Khan MP

Opposition Chief Whip
Rosie Winterton MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Health
Andy Burnham MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
Chuka Umunna MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 
Rachel Reeves MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Education 
Tristram Hunt MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
Vernon Coaker MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Hilary Benn MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
Caroline Flint MP

Shadow Leader of the House of Commons and Chair of the National Policy Forum
Angela Eagle MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
Michael Dugher MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Ivan Lewis MP

Shadow Secretary of State for International Development
Mary Creagh MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland
Margaret Curran MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Wales 
Owen Smith MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Maria Eagle MP

Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office
Lucy Powell MP 

Shadow Minister without Portfolio and Deputy Party Chair
Jon Trickett MP

Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities
Gloria De Piero MP

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Chris Leslie MP

Shadow Leader of the House of Lords
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon

Lords Chief Whip 
Lord Bassam of Brighton

Also attending Shadow Cabinet:

Shadow Minister for Care and Older People
Liz Kendall MP

Shadow Minister for Housing
Emma Reynolds

Shadow Attorney General
Emily Thornberry MP

Shadow Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
Lord Wood of Anfield

Coordinator of the Labour Party Policy Review
Jon Cruddas MP

In addition:

Lucy Powell becomes Vice Chair of the General Election Campaign (Operations)

 

Alison McGovern becomes Shadow Minister for Children and Families

 

Anas Sarwar becomes Shadow Minister for International Development

 

Jon Trickett will also be part of the Leader’s Office as a senior adviser

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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The rise of the green mayor – Sadiq Khan and the politics of clean energy

At an event at Tate Modern, Sadiq Khan pledged to clean up London's act.

On Thursday night, deep in the bowls of Tate Modern’s turbine hall, London Mayor Sadiq Khan renewed his promise to make the capital a world leader in clean energy and air. Yet his focus was as much on people as power plants – in particular, the need for local authorities to lead where central governments will not.

Khan was there to introduce the screening of a new documentary, From the Ashes, about the demise of the American coal industry. As he noted, Britain continues to battle against the legacy of fossil fuels: “In London today we burn very little coal but we are facing new air pollution challenges brought about for different reasons." 

At a time when the world's leaders are struggling to keep international agreements on climate change afloat, what can mayors do? Khan has pledged to buy only hybrid and zero-emissions buses from next year, and is working towards London becoming a zero carbon city.

Khan has, of course, also gained heroic status for being a bête noire of climate-change-denier-in-chief Donald Trump. On the US president's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Khan quipped: “If only he had withdrawn from Twitter.” He had more favourable things to say about the former mayor of New York and climate change activist Michael Bloomberg, who Khan said hailed from “the second greatest city in the world.”

Yet behind his humour was a serious point. Local authorities are having to pick up where both countries' central governments are leaving a void – in improving our air and supporting renewable technology and jobs. Most concerning of all, perhaps, is the way that interest groups representing business are slashing away at the regulations which protect public health, and claiming it as a virtue.

In the UK, documents leaked to Greenpeace’s energy desk show that a government-backed initiative considered proposals for reducing EU rules on fire-safety on the very day of the Grenfell Tower fire. The director of this Red Tape Initiative, Nick Tyrone, told the Guardian that these proposals were rejected. Yet government attempts to water down other EU regulations, such as the energy efficiency directive, still stand.

In America, this blame-game is even more highly charged. Republicans have sworn to replace what they describe as Obama’s “war on coal” with a war on regulation. “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump announced in March. While he has vowed “to promote clean air and clear water,” he has almost simultaneously signed an order to unravel the Clean Water Rule.

This rhetoric is hurting the very people it claims to protect: miners. From the Ashes shows the many ways that the industry harms wider public health, from water contamination, to air pollution. It also makes a strong case that the American coal industry is in terminal decline, regardless of possibile interventions from government or carbon capture.

Charities like Bloomberg can only do so much to pick up the pieces. The foundation, which helped fund the film, now not only helps support job training programs in coal communities after the Trump administration pulled their funding, but in recent weeks it also promised $15m to UN efforts to tackle climate change – again to help cover Trump's withdrawal from Paris Agreement. “I'm a bit worried about how many cards we're going to have to keep adding to the end of the film”, joked Antha Williams, a Bloomberg representative at the screening, with gallows humour.

Hope also lies with local governments and mayors. The publication of the mayor’s own environment strategy is coming “soon”. Speaking in panel discussion after the film, his deputy mayor for environment and energy, Shirley Rodrigues, described the move to a cleaner future as "an inevitable transition".

Confronting the troubled legacies of our fossil fuel past will not be easy. "We have our own experiences here of our coal mining communities being devastated by the closure of their mines," said Khan. But clean air begins with clean politics; maintaining old ways at the price of health is not one any government must pay. 

'From The Ashes' will premiere on National Geograhpic in the United Kingdom at 9pm on Tuesday, June 27th.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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