7 Oct 2013

Why Miliband’s Labour reshuffle is no purge of the Blairites

Tristram Hunt succeeds Stephen Twigg as shadow education secretary, making it a bit harder to call this reshuffle a “purge of the Blarites” – though it hasn’t stopped Grant Shapps doing just that.

Ed Miliband clashed with Liam Byrne behind the scenes and didn’t like the strident tone, as the leader saw it, of some of Mr Byrne’s welfare announcements. Stephen Twigg was another of those (with Ed Balls and Messrs Byrne and Murphy) Len McCluskey demanded be thrown out of the shadow cabinet and dubbed the “four horsemen of the austerity apocalypse”. Stephen Twigg has accepted a role outside the shadow cabinet talking about constitutional affairs and Liam Byrne has done likewise as spokesman on higher education.

Ed Miliband’s decision to keep Blairite Jim Murphy in the shadow cabinet (demoted to shadowing DfID) looks suspiciously like the act of a leader who didn’t feel strong enough to contemplate Mr Murphy on the backbenches.

Oxford Literary Festival

Ed Miliband is said to rue the decision to continue with continuous at-sea deterrence (CASD) and four Trident submarines, and there’s bound to be suspicion that the removal of Jim Murphy from defence is part of a plan to move the party to a different place on this (even though the commitment to CASD was only signed up to this summer).

In the past, Vernon Coaker, the new shadow defence secretary, has voted in favour of Trident renewal, but I wonder where he stands now and whether it came up in the chat in the leader’s office this afternoon.

One job that will fascinate some looking over the list: Jon Trickett, veteran leading figure in Compass, is the man Ed Miliband wants to oversee party renewal and the reform of the link. Hard to see Jon Trickett presiding over an “ending” of the link.

Another interesting appointment is Spencer Livermore, back as the general election campaign director. He left No. 10 in the blood-letting that followed the 2007 early general election that never was.

He’s strangely absent from Damian McBride‘s account of the Brown years, just published, but in Steve Richards’ account (published a while ago) Mr Livermore claims that Damian McBride very much worked for Ed Balls… not quite the message of Power Trip, the McBride account. Mr Livermore will work with Douglas Alexander, who resumes his role as chair of general election strategy.

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4 reader comments

  1. Ray Turner says:

    Labour needs to purge more than the Blairites…
    It needs to purge all of the Champagne Socialists.

  2. Philip says:

    In the brain of Grant Shapps
    There are too many gaps
    in the words of Grant Shapps
    there’s been many a lapse
    (I’ve been contemplating another couplet involving “bum”, but I’ll keep it clean)

  3. Philip Edwards says:


    If Miliband had even half the guts required he would have cleared the lot of them out: they belong with the tories anyway.

    The so-called Blairites and Brownites (in reality nothing but a gang of neocons who betrayed everything the Labour Party is supposed to stand for) are political parasites of the worst type.

    The fact is, if the Labour Party (that is, NOT New Labour) is to regain its original purpose it needs to restore confidence amongst its working class base. Daily Mail/Sun readers will NEVER support Labour and it is stupid to think they will.

    The so-called “New Middle Class” is a neocon invention originating in the very worst of reactionary USA. The establishment here simply copied it. The results are all around you in the West.

    “Class” is not a matter of where you live or how much you earn, it is a matter of political consciousness. YOU decide what class you belong to, not some crackpot far right newspaper or other media, or some pollster with loaded questions. The sooner wage and salary slaves realise that, the sooner we might have a better chance to restore a decent society with a reasonable conscience.

    Until then, we are stuck with the disgusting, corrupt mess we’ve got.

    But I don’t expect New Labour to even remotely understand that.

    1. Philip says:

      I fear that part of the problem for Labour is that a significant proportion of the working class DO read the Sun, in particular. The problem for Labour is that it drew lessons from the failure of John Major in terms of the media & Bill Clinton in terms of his famous triangulation – keep just to the left of your opponent and effectively lost touch with its natural, long term supports – some of whom are now UKIP and BNP/EDL supporters. Labour needs to follow up on what Milliband has (by accident I suspect) begun and rebuild a mass party based on strong & engaged local parties, developing policy from experience on the ground – not what appeals to carefully chosen focus groups or the media. Concentrating a lot more effort locally would also enable them to engage with people directly to counter the racist, xenophobic, individualist, greed-based philosophy of the Sun, etc

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