All change in the Labour reshuffle

Beth Miller

Ed Miliband’s long awaited ministerial reshuffle was met with mixed reactions on Monday.

It was praised by those on the left of the spectrum as an intelligent reshuffle, distancing Ed’s team from so called Blairites, such as Liam Bryne and Stephen Twigg, who were demoted from key positions in Shadow-Cabinet.

However, critics, such as Eric Pickles, David Cameron’s Communities and Local Government Secretary, slammed the reshuffle for allegedly pandering to Len McCluskey, the Unite kingpin. Pickles’ Tory colleagues have backed this up and cited examples from the last year of McCluskey’s support for those promoted and criticism of those ‘given the boot’, as it’s often insensitively described, as evidence of the union boss’ influence over ‘Red Ed’.

Aside from the political rhetoric and point scoring, something that interested me was the rise of some of Labour’s women, including Rachel Reeves, newly appointed Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary.

Reeves, who only became an MP in 2010, has moved up the ranks quickly, and managed to have a child in that time too, giving birth only 7 months ago. She is part of the 44% of Ed Miliband’s Shadow Cabinet who are female. Regardless of whether it’s an electoral manoeuvre from Ed, or a genuine result of top female talent being rewarded, I’m pleased to see an apparent commitment to gender equality from the Labour leadership.

It was also interesting to note Ed’s faith in youth (a concept which is of course relative when one talks of MPs). Many of Reeves’ peers from the 2010 intake have also been promoted, and now make up 31% of the Shadow Cabinet. Winners include Tristram Hunt, made Shadow Education Secretary, Gloria de Piero, promoted to Shadow Minister for Women & Equalities and Michael Dugher, who was given the role of Shadow Cabinet Office Minister.

These younger MPs, along with the likes of Lisa Nandy, Rushnara Ali and Stella Creasy – paving her way one pay day loan debate at a time – are set to help shape Labour’s future direction, with briefs spanning from BIS and DFID to crime prevention and equalities. How this will affect Miliband’s ‘rebranding’ of the Labour party remains to be seen. However, the ghosts of 1997 are never far away, particularly if Will Straw and – if rumours are to be believed – Euan Blair enter the Labour talent pool for selection in 2015.

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