Andrew Smith is a Senior Policy Adviser at the public affairs agency Connect Communications and a Conservative Councillor on Westminster City Council. Follow Andrew on Twitter.
Labour’s mini reshuffle is the first time that Ed Miliband has been able to appoint his choice of shadow team. His previous choices were restricted by the combination of shadow cabinet elections and, most importantly, the need for him to smooth over the division caused by the defeat of his brother in the leadership election and the chasm separating the instincts of those on the right and left of the party.
This week he operated from a position of strength. His leadership seems secure as the party enjoys double figure leads in the polls and recent successes in the local elections. He was therefore free to choose members of his top team that reflect his vision of the future of the party.
What do these choices mean for the future of the Labour Party and what could this mean for the Conservative campaign to form a majority government at the next election?
The decision to remove Liam Byrne as the head of Labour’s policy review is reflective of concern within the Labour Party about the progress of the review, but perhaps more importantly the ideological direction that Byrne was taking the review, especially on issues such as welfare reform.
Those close to the decision have suggested that there were two possible choices to replace Liam Byrne; Andrew Adonis who would have indicated a continuing Labour interest in public service reform, or John Cruddas, Tony Blair’s former union fixer whose political career has shown him to be an implacable opponent of almost any reform, in education, in welfare provision, or in the health service.