The opportunity for Ed Miliband to rebalance his shadow cabinet should not be missed. LabourList urges caution — it is only seven months since the last one so people haven’t quite had time to prove their (un)worthiness so best wait until Autumn. And, after all, though the anti-Ed briefings haven’t stopped, they’ve “lost much of their initial bile”. But there’s another view:
In the last reshuffle, we argued Ed had strengthened his own support within the shadow cabinet but only slightly. When the anti-Ed briefings were coming thick and fast back in January, even those who voted for him were strangely silent. Perhaps that’s the way it is with the “rising stars”. When the going gets tough, they’re not so keen to lay in to their Progress friends. Now, since the Blairites decided they couldn’t stomach backing Balls or Cooper, and didn’t have a candidate of their own, they have been quieter. And Ed has had a good few months and a good election. But he can’t afford to bank on it staying that way. He needs a few more people around him who can be guaranteed to back him and not to mince their words. Michael Dugher, Helen Goodman, Jack Dromey are possible additions. In the interests of rebalancing the shadow cabinet politically, Diane Abbott also surely deserves a place.
As to who should join Peter Hain in departing, even if she does not go now, Tessa Jowell must surely go when her current role on the Olympics disappears in little more than two months. The outstanding other candidate is Liam Byrne.
Believe it or not, we are eighteen months into a policy review for which Liam Byrne has been responsible throughout. After the infamous “I’m afraid there is no money“note to his successor as Chief Secretary of the Treasury, you’d have thought he would have been working hard to re-establish a reputation. There have been over a million contacts with the public, he reported to a NPF telephone conference last December, and dozens of shadow cabinet working groups and policy papers. There have been several rounds of policy papers, none of which seem to lead to the next. Nothing has yet been endorsed by conference or the NPF. In some cases, they’ve not even been discussed. Labour’s very own omnishambles. It’s hard to find an insider who disagrees.
Perhaps, it would be worth remaining cautious about removing Caroline Flint and Ivan Lewis for now, and about moving people between portfolios – although StephenTwigg had earned party members distrust within a week of his appointment. But there is no excuse not also to rebalance the middle ranks with the promotion of Lisa Nandy, Ian Lavery, Graham Morris, Ian Mearns and Kate Green.