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Media reaction to Ed Miliband's Shadow Cabinet reshuffle

By Matthew Barrett
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Following Ed Miliband's Shadow Cabinet reshuffle this afternoon, we can take a look at some of the reaction in the press:

  • The Spectator's James Forsyth: "The Labour reshuffle is an attempt to bring more energy and aggression into Ed Miliband's top team. It is also a recognition that the party has failed to cut through on public service reform, hence new shadows at both health and education. Chuka Umunna's rapid promotion to shadow Business Secretary will, I suspect, dominate coverage of the reshuffle."
  • The Daily Telegraph's James Kirkup: "Lord (Stewart) Wood is an old Brown hand who was already in the shadow cabinet. He’s joined there by his former office mate Michael Dugher ... stepping up from Ed’s PPS. Jon Trickett, the new shadow for the Cabinet Office, was also Mr Brown’s PPS. ... And the most interesting move of all is the arrival of the new Labour Party Deputy Chair and Campaign Coordinator: ladies and gents, I give you Mr Tom Watson." 
  • Former education advisor to Blair, Conor Ryan: "It is good news that Stephen Twigg, an unashamed fan of academies, has been appointed by Ed Miliband as his new shadow education secretary. Andy Burnham never really regained the initiative having started badly"
  • Iain Dale: "On balance, I would say that this reshuffle does indeed make Ed Miliband’s team stronger, especially from the point of view of getting on the media. That may seem a false priority, but if a politician can’t get on the media in opposition, they’re not much cop."
  • The Daily Mail's Tim Shipman: "Tom [Watson] and Michael [Dugher] will both deny that they were part of the 'forces of hell', the group of Brown briefers who spent as much time denouncing their colleagues as their political opponents. But it is a fact that they were both close to Damian McBride before he disgraced himself. It is also worth remembering that McBride was also a brilliant Westminster operator before he got carried away. These guys understand the dark arts and they are good at them."
Some other quick notes: 
  • No return for David Miliband.
  • Sadiq Khan has failed to impress at Justice, but stays, despite having had the easy target of Ken Clarke to attack.
  • Similarly, Douglas Alexander has not managed to land a single blow on William Hague since he became Shadow Foreign Secretary in January, but stays nevertheless.
  • Andy Burnham moves to Health, the Department at which he was the Secretary of State until the last general election. He is a good media perfomer, and the previous holder of the Shadow position, John Healey, failed to trouble Andrew Lansley as much as the Lib Dems did.
  • Burnham's former position, Shadow Education, is now filled by Stephen Twigg, the Blairite Minister for School Standards between 2004 and 2005. Does this represent an acknowledgement by Ed Miliband that Michael Gove's Blairite academy school reforms are correct? We will find out soon enough.
  • Caroline Flint is demoted from DCLG to DECC despite being a confident media performer, and one of the few Shadow Cabinet members to openly "get" the need for Labour to widen its appeal to the middle classes in order to win elections.
  • Also demoted is Ivan Lewis, who, at Labour Party conference recently, proposed an Orwellian "register" for journalists. He moves from shadowing DCMS to DfID.
  • New MPs Chuka Ummuna, Rachel Reeves, Liz Kendall and Michael Dugher now attend the Shadow Cabinet. This will be partially designed to increase the pressure on David Cameron to promote some of his new intake. 
  • An interesting factoid from ePolitix: "At almost 33, newly appointed Shadow [Business] Secretary Chuka Umunna is 35 years younger than his coalition counterpart Vince Cable".