Powell joins Shadow Cabinet – and gets major campaign role – as Miliband shuffles front bench

5th November, 2014 7:17 pm

Jim Murphy’s resignation from the Shadow DfID office to concentrate on his bid to be leader of the Scottish Labour Party has prompted Miliband to make some changes to his frontbench team.

As expected, this is a relatively small reshuffle with the onus primarily on filling the position left vacant by Murphy, rather than being used as an opportunity to make wholesale changes to the top team.

Shadow Cabinet

Murphy’s former role as Shadow DFID Secretary has been taken by Mary Creagh. She’s been moved on from the Shadow Transport brief. Creagh received criticism at Labour conference this year from transport unions, after she appeared less than fully behind the party’s new rail policy. Miliband is thought to be an admirer of Creagh though, so it’s unsurprising to see her moved within the Shadow Cabinet.

Creagh has been replaced by Michael Dugher as Shadow Transport Secretary. That means Dugher will no longer be at the Cabinet Office – or holding his other role as Vice Chair of the General Election campaign.

Both of Dugher’s roles will be taken by Lucy Powell, who joins the Shadow Cabinet only two years after becoming an MP. She’s not exactly a newcomer though. Close to Miliband, Powell was one of the key figures on Miliband’s Leadership campaign in 2010 (credited with “steadying the ship”) and served as his Chief of Staff and Deputy of Staff, before becoming the MP for Manchester Central in November 2012. Will her job be to “steady the ship” once again?

lucy_powell.jpg

Powell’s role looks to be larger than the Vice Chair role that Dugher has left though. As Vice Chair of the campaign (operations) she’ll be in charge of the election campaign on a day to day basis – which suggests that Douglas Alexander (Campaign Chair) and Spencer Livermore (Campaign Director) will be focussed on strategy.

Other appointments

Powell’s promotions left a vacancy as ShadowMinister for Children and Families (a big role as Labour looks to focus on childcare) – that role has gone to Alison McGovern, one of the rising stars of the 2010 intake. McGovern’s former role as junior DFID Shadow Minister has gone to Interim Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar. Meanwhile Jon Trickett MP will be working as part of the Leader’s Office as a senior adviser.

Gender balance

Powell’s promotion (replacing Jim Murphy) means there’s now near gender balance amongst those attending Shadow Cabinet – 17 men and 15 women. That’s only one more change shy of the 50% that Miliband was aiming for.

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