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Coffee House

Reshuffle 2014: How will Labour attack?

16 July 2014

8:50 AM

16 July 2014

8:50 AM

How will Ed Miliband deploy the reshuffle at Prime Minister’s Questions today? The Labour leader may not use it as his main theme, but he has plenty of elements from yesterday’s surprisingly big shake-up to work with.

He could probe on just how good a reshuffle this has been for equality. Most of the focus is on gender equality, but some appointments yesterday were about more than just the ladies in waiting for a Cabinet post. Stephen Crabb, for instance, was raised by a single parent in a council house, although there seems to be more interest in his minority status as a bearded Cabinet minister. But though the advance of the women might not have been as extensive as it was billed, it will be more difficult for Miliband to get traction on this when the papers are full of coverage (and rather alarming sartorial analysis) of the women who did win yesterday and given the choreography of this reshuffle, which saw the men chased out in a pack, and no women sacked.

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Where Miliband may feel he has significantly more of a chance is on Europe. David Cameron has left Westminster a little alarmed about his renegotiation strategy by nominating someone with even less profile than Andrew Lansley as European Commissioner. He has cheered his backbenchers by moving Philip Hammond to the Foreign Office, but Miliband could use this out-and-proud euroscepticism at the top levels of government to argue that Britain is now careering towards an EU exit. This, Labour figures think, is useful for their party as they can adopt a pro-business stance by arguing Brexit would hurt British firms.

Today’s session does not present the Labour leader with an open goal as it was a surprising rather than shambolic shuffle. But Miliband does tend to have better weeks when he needs to plug away a bit: he often misses those open goals.

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