When will Ed Miliband reshuffle the Shadow Cabinet?

September 2, 2013 9:01 am

Ed Miliband’s Shadow Cabinet reshuffle is drawing closer. I wrote back in February that the Labour leader had told several of his colleagues to pull their socks up or risk being kicked off Labour’s top table – and in the coming weeks we’ll see who Miliband believes is up to the task of government.

But when might the reshuffle take place? Here are the pros and cons of each of the coming weeks.

This week: The chances of a second vote on Syria this week look remote following Cameron’s humiliation last week and Obama’s decision to adjust the US timetable for action – leaving this week (relatively) clear (apart from the government’s attempts to silence charities, and this blog). It’s the first week back after a long and often uncomfortable summer, and Miliband may seek to use it to reward those who stood by him and dump those who were silent or silently mutinous. Reshuffling the pack this week also gives the Shadow Cabinet time (although not much) to prepare for Labour Party conference.

Next week – TUC conference: Ed Miliband will struggle to pull off a reshuffle next week – as he’s already got speaking at the TUC conference in Bournemouth on his schedule. That’s not to say that he won’t have time – clearly he will – but if he changes his after speaking to the TUC, it’s not hard to see how the Tories will spin any moves. If next week is reshuffle week, expect attacks on Miliband for changing the Shadow Cabinet after meeting his “union paymasters” – especially after Len McCluskey made clear his views on a few Shadow Cabinet members earlier this year.

Lib Dem conference: A week after TUC conference and the yellow half of the coalition will be meeting in Glasgow. Announcing a reshuffle during another party’s conference is a) flaunting Westminster convention and b) would mean that the reshuffle could get overshadowed by a party in government holding their annual get together. It’s possible that Miliband could reshuffle his team after Lib Dem conference (at the end of the week), but that would be perilously close to…

Labour conference: Could Miliband reshuffle his team in Brighton? On the one hand it would ensure maximum media attention (reshuffle+conference = media gold), but it would also be a nightmare from a party management point of view – the last thing anyone wants is aggrieved MPs sitting on panels and mixing with journalists when they’ve just been bumped. No thank you. And Miliband could reshuffle his pack immediately after Labour conference – but why would you bother? That would make many of the speeches from the week before redundant.

Tory conference: There is no point – at all – in reshuffling the Shadow Cabinet during Tory conference. Labour wouldn’t get a look in from the media and the whole thing would get ignored. It would look like Miliband was trying to shuffle his team whilst no-one was looking – and appearing shifty is never a good look.

After conference season: Miliband could very well decide to wait until after conference season – as every one of the four previous weeks are fraught with media management danger. However the problem is that now the reshuffle rumours have begun, waiting another month – including a week in the febrile atmosphere of conference – could lead to increased tension and suspicion from within the Shadow Cabinet. Nobody works at their best with the hangman’s noose hovering overhead.

This week look’s the best bet for Miliband to make his move – or else wait until October when conference season is over.

  • http://www.facebook.com/denise.clendinning Denise Clendinning

    i say go for it this week . time is of the essence

    • DanFilson

      But who to promote and demote? It’s the lower tiers too that need attention.

      • rekrab

        Does it matter, when the party resembles a doughnut like gaping hole?

        In 1999 the Scottish parliament was reconvened, however a voting system was put in place too try and ensure no one party would rule with a majority, hence the birth of the lib/lab pact, that only confused the electorate and pretty much caused static progress on all the main issues, in the end the Scottish electorate ditched the coalition and returned a majority rule for the SNP, something that wasn’t meant to happen with STV voting. Of course, we’li continue to have an opposition and a shadow cabinet but we wont have much support if we don’t have a collect drive. For me it’s not about feeling your way around in the dark, it’s about spreading the light and having a clear set of goals, all to often an open goal appears but because we’re not sure and hesitate we fluff our chance.Get John McDonnell in the cabinet, set out the things we want to achieve and smack that ball right into the net.

  • Monkey_Bach

    Miliband has made some extraordinarily bad appointments since he became leader. I doubt that whatever Shadow Cabinet results from any hypothetical reshuffle it will be much different, let alone better, than the one we’re lumbered with now. To avoid disappointment later, don’t get your hopes up now. Eeek.

    • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.blott Matthew Blott

      Well I agree with you on this one. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any shadow cabinet reshuffles that have made any significant difference.

      • Monkey_Bach

        Thanks! Eeek.

  • ColinAdkins

    Move upwards please for Chuka, Reeves, Flint and Bryant who are our most effective performers on TV. Good boost for diversity as well!

    • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.blott Matthew Blott

      Flint and Bryant are both very strong performers and I’ve never seen either of them get flustered. Chuka is also a good media performer but needs to convey the impression that he does humility so he doesn’t come across as a patronising posh boy. Reeves has been a disappointment for me who too often resorts to the comfort zone of toofartoofast.

      • Mike Homfray

        Flint is hopeless. Bryant can be good but wasn’t when he got his chance to shine. Ummuna does have this lounge-lizard demeanor which doesn’t always work. Reeves, I like her style, but more difficult as she obviously can’t be seen to be contradicting Balls so she doesn’t really have the opportunity to put her own stamp on her brief.

        • ColinAdkins

          Mike, Is this view based on Flint’s politics (she has moved to the right since I knew her at Labour Students and then working for the GMB) or her delivery? On QT for example I think she puts the fear of god into the Tories and LDs. Colin

          • Mike Homfray

            Her delivery – its just not a style I like. Luciana Berger is the same – I find it immensely irritating.

          • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.blott Matthew Blott

            Sorry Colin, I didn’t read your comment before posting – quite right, she’s fearless when debating with someone.

          • DanFilson

            We see her too often for my taste on Question Time. She’s so on message you wonder why they don’t just send the speaking clock. Chuka is obviously brainy but seems a little “cold fish” to my taste, a bit of animation might help him warm up the listeners and viewers, as cold and remorselessly logical rectitude doesn’t, Bryant is I am sure a nice guy but focuses too much on getting up the Tories’ noses and not enough on winning arguments. Reeves – minimal impact so far, in my view.. But it’s worth pointing out that a small PLP of little more than 250 – somoe of whom are retiring at 2015, in some cases thankfully – doesn’t help Ed reshuffle the place cards

        • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.blott Matthew Blott

          Flint is hopeless? Notice you single out the (supposed) Blairite. Whenever she’s on Question Time she’s very impressive. You just don’t like her.

          • Danny

            I don’t know a great deal about Caroline Flint apart from the fact that she was the driving force behind the reclassification of magic mushrooms. Spoil sport.

          • caz84

            As someone who works in the ‘green’ sector, I can say that Caroline Flint has been utterly useless at having any kind of vision on these issues – she’s very good at petty party-politicking and getting at Greg Barker et al on any scandal that comes their way, but she has let the Lib Dems be the ones to put the clear ‘yellow’ water between themselves and the Conservatives on green energy issues.

      • ColinAdkins

        Matthew, I thought Chuka was South London housing estate or at least that what I believed when I lived in Streatham (I left before he was selected). If you know differently pray tell me. Colin

        • BillFrancisOConnor

          This was my view as well Colin. However, it seems that his Irish mother was a solicitor and the daughter of a High Court Judge. His father was a bigwig in Nigeria’s Igbo region. He also attended an independent secondary school in Catford- so not quite the salt of the earth, horny handed son of toil that one might imagine.
          That said he went to a ‘bog standard’ C of E primary school on Brixton Hill. He’s a great MP though – communicative, hard working and with genuine solid links to the area. Brixton Hill has become Yuppie Central in recent years but with vestiges of its old working class roots still in tact (just – as they are being kicked up to Thornton Heath at a rapid rate) so Chuka bridges that kind of social space.

        • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.blott Matthew Blott

          Is that a joke? His mum’s a solicitor and grandfather a high court judge.

          • ColinAdkins

            I bow to your greater knowledge. Some image massaging has taken place.

          • JoeDM

            Good solid working class background then. LOL !!!

      • disqus_Gege54mIfK

        Rachel Reeves has been off the radar for some time; not sure if she has yet returned from maternity leave. Looking forward to her return.

    • Lewis Coyne

      I’m surprised no one has mentioned Stella Creasy who, in my view, is a vastly under-appreciated talent. She’s also managed to come across as an actual human being (tweeting about hip-hop, etc.) which is a rare pleasure to see.

      Besides Stella, I’d like to see Diane Abbott move up the ranks, along with others from the Left. There are greybeards in the form of Michael Meacher and John McDonnell who would be great given the opportunity, but I fear I’ve now veered into wishful thinking…

      • DanFilson

        I’ll say you are! The awkward squad prefer their independence and it’s a miracle Diane has stayed in the shadow team. Meacher and McDonnell, both of whom have much to offer, are nearing the point where their time in the Commons is up.

        • Redshift1

          Meacher is getting on but McDonnell isn’t that old is he?

          • DanFilson

            Only 62 or so, a mere stripling. I suspect he’ll stay in Parliament until his 70s, but not pitch for nor accept any government office.

      • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.blott Matthew Blott

        I thought you were making some reasonable points until you started talking about Diane Abbott and your credibility immediately dissipated.

      • ColinAdkins

        Lewis, Your right and I should have included her in my list. Colin

    • Chilbaldi

      Umunna is as high as he can go other than one of the great offices of state, and he is too inexperienced for Home, Foreign or Treasury. Maybe one day, but he is doing a lot of learning on the job and this should continue for the foreseeable.

      Not a massive fan of Flint. But agree on Bryant (recent immigration gaffe aside) and Reeves.

  • http://couloumat.co.uk/ David Parker

    It is extremely difficult for the outsider to know how much the failure of individual members of the shadow cabinet to sing a common tune is the result of an unwillingness or inabilty to do so or of the absence of a song sheet from which to sing. The first requirement of any reshuffle is to bring in those capable of engaging fully in a serious collective discussion about strategy, tactics and the principles which should underpin Labour policy as well as the ability to project these into the public arena. Is this expecting too much?

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  • Redshift1

    Lisa Nandy is well overdue a promotion.

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