There have been rumours for a couple of weeks that Ed Miliband was due to reshuffle team. During the party conference season, it was thought that he would be making this move the week following the Clacton by-election.
However, his frontbench team remained intact, perhaps as a sensible stabilising measure following Labour’s surprisingly narrow win in the Heywood and Middleton by-election and the ensuing mutterings of dissatisfaction from the PLP. Though a reshuffle was only ever rumoured, Tory sources were less kind about this apparent turnaround. One smiled: “he’s bottled it”.
But yesterday evening, Miliband did deliver a mini-reshuffle of the lower tiers of his shadow frontbench. This was triggered by Rushanara Ali, who resigned her position in the shadow education team over the Commons advocating military action in Iraq.
Who went where?
MP for Wolverhampton South East.
McFadden, who served as a business minister under Gordon Brown and was briefly shadow business secretary in Labour’s first five months in opposition in 2010, has been appointed shadow minister for Europe.
He worked as an adviser to Tony Blair both when he was in opposition and government, and became his political secretary in 2002. He was elected for Wolverhampton South East in 2005.
McFadden is respected as an intelligent, and occasionally critical, voice in the party. It has surprised some over the years that Miliband has so long declined to appoint him to the frontbench.
The shadow Europe brief has been a tough one for Labour MPs to hold, because at first there was the need to prevaricate over the EU referendum issue – and now there’s the Ukip factor tempting politicians from all sides of the House to think before they praise the European Union.
McFadden – who knows the policy area well – is a strong advocate of Britain’s EU membership, and condemns the “call for more isolation”. He is in favour of measured change in Europe with long-term aims, rather than for electoral advantage. His appointment represents Labour’s preparation to fight the issue with levelheadedness.
I’m delighted to be joining the front bench at this crucial time.
I want to make the hard-headed, patriotic case for both Britain in Europe and for change in Europe so that it works for working people.
Labour believes that Europe can and must be made to work better for Britain but we understand that the right road for Britain is change in Europe, not exit from Europe.
MP for Harrow West
Thomas has moved from the shadow Europe brief to become shadow minister for the Middle East and North Africa in Miliband’s shadow foreign affairs team.
This isn’t his first foray into foreign affairs. In the last two years of the Labour government, he served as an international development minister.
MP for Wrexham
Lucas leaves his shadow foreign affairs brief to join Vernon Coaker’s shadow defence team covering international security strategy.
Before his appointment as a shadow foreign minister in 2011, Lucas mainly held business-based briefs. He served as a minister for business and regulatory reform in 2009-10.
MP for Makerfield
Fovargue moves over from defence to education, replacing Ali as shadow minister for young people.
It’s worth noting that Miliband may feel compelled to have another reshuffle before the election, following his intention to build a shadow cabinet that is 50 per cent women.