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
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
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