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  1. Politics
2 November 2014

Who will replace Jim Murphy in the shadow cabinet?

Former Scottish Labour deputy leader Anas Sarwar is expected to join Miliband's team. 

By George Eaton

When Jim Murphy announced that he was standing for the Scottish Labour leadership, and was swiftly installed as the favourite, it was clear that he would have to resign from the shadow cabinet. That is what he has done today, telling Pienaar’s Politics: “I want to dedicate myself full-time to changing Scotland and changing the Scottish Labour Party.

“It’s difficult to do that and to serve in the shadow cabinet, and therefore after talking to Ed Miliband over the past couple of days I’ve decided to stand down from the shadow cabinet.”

It is doubtful that he leaves with much sadness. After being demoted from shadow defence secretary to shadow international development secretary in the last reshuffle, following his criticism of Miliband’s stance on Syria, and being excluded from the election strategy group, he felt that his talents were being under-used. 

Attention will now move to Murphy’s likely replacement. One possibility suggested to me by several Labour sources is for Margaret Curran, the current shadow Scottish secretary, to fill Murphy’s place with Glasgow Central MP Anas Sarwar, who resigned as Scottish Labour deputy leader earlier this week, taking her brief. But such a move would not impress development NGOs, who I’m told are angered by Miliband’s use of the post as a consolation prize. They are feeling increasingly neglected by the Labour leader, who rarely mentions development issues and who has made few foreign trips.

If he wants to assuage their concerns, Miliband could promote the current shadow international development minister Alison McGovern, who is well liked by the sector and is one of the most impressive of the 2010 intake. The promotion of McGovern would also put Miliband closer to achieving his ambition for women to hold 50 per cent of posts in his shadow cabinet (which, as I revealed over the summer, he is keen to meet before the end of the parliament). Another possible candidate mentioned by several sources is Luciana Berger, who has impressed since being shadow public health minister in 2013. 

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