The post-Jim Murphy Labour reshuffle has arrived, and while it’s not particularly seismic, it still tells us some interesting things about Ed Miliband’s thinking.
The Labour leader has replaced the former Shadow International Development Secretary with Mary Creagh, which means it can’t be described as a consolation prize (something development campaigners were wary of as they’d rather someone who wanted the job, thank you). Creagh has a reputation in her party for being formidably well-briefed (although she managed to disappoint regional newspapers recently), and was particularly impressive in her last role but one as Shadow Environment Secretary when the horse meat scandal broke. Anas Sarwar, who some had tipped as Murphy’s replacement in the shadow DfID role becomes a shadow international development minister in Creagh’s new team with Alison McGovern moving to cover children and families.
McGovern is replacing Miliband loyalist Lucy Powell who has impressed many and will now shadow Francis Maude’s Cabinet Office job and will work as vice chair of the General Election campaign. This isn’t just a reward for Powell but also a sign that Miliband is trying to bring those he really trusts as high up the rankings as possible. His Shadow Cabinet isn’t particularly cheerful or supportive at present, and that’s not helped by some in his team blaming shadow ministers for Labour’s weaknesses while at the same time refusing to let them off the leash at all, even to give a speech of more than 700 words. Similarly Jon Trickett, another Ed ally, gets a promotion to Shadow Minister without Portfolio and Deputy Chair and will be part of the leader’s office as a senior adviser.
Attack dog Michael Dugher becomes Shadow Transport Secretary, which should make Patrick McLoughlin’s life even livelier than before – and Transport questions in the Commons a good jousting match.
Ed is trying to shore up his support on his frontbenches and do what he can to make the Shadow Cabinet his own. But you don’t need to be particularly eagle-eyed to spot that very few of the big beasts have moved. It could be that the Labour leader plans something bigger for later – or that this is it, and he has concluded that some of the names who get criticised the most are nonetheless unmovable before 2015.