New faces get key roles as Miliband unveils Shadow Cabinet

view gallery VIEW GALLERY


The MP Tom Watson won a dramatic promotion to the Shadow Cabinet yesterday in recognition of his dogged campaign to expose phone hacking as Ed Miliband moved to give Labour's top team a sharper edge.

He installed new faces in the key health and education posts and promoted five MPs elected for the first time in 2010. They include Rachel Reeves and Chuka Umunna, both 32, who were handed prominent posts marking them out as the party's fastest-rising stars.

Mr Watson resigned as a minister more than two years ago to pursue claims that News of the World journalists had routinely hacked mobile phones. He is rewarded with the post of Labour's deputy chair and campaign co-ordinator, but will retain his seat on the Commons Culture Select Committee, which is investigating phone hacking.

Mr Miliband was free to remould his team after pushing through a rule change that scrapped elections for the Shadow Cabinet amongst Labour MPs.

The nine new names include Stephen Twigg, the former Schools Minister who lost his parliamentary seat in 2005 but returned last year. He was made shadow Education Secretary in succession to Andy Burnham, who takes over the health brief. Mr Burnham will spearhead Labour's opposition to Andrew Lansley's controversial NHS reforms.

Ms Reeves, a former economist, was promoted to shadow Chief Treasury Secretary, where she will oppose the Liberal Democrat Danny Alexander who is overseeing spending cuts and reform of public sector pay and pensions. Mr Umunna, who along with Ms Reeves has been tipped as a future Labour leader, was appointed shadow Business Secretary, where he will have to prove his mettle against Vince Cable. He takes over from John Denham, who steps down from the Shadow Cabinet.

Another member of Labour's "Class of 2010", Margaret Curran, was made shadow Scottish Secretary with the task of leading the fight-back against the resurgent Scottish National Party.

Two other MPs landed plum jobs after only 18 months in the Commons. Liz Kendall was made shadow minister for Care and Older People and Michael Dugher a shadow minister without portfolio. The Conservatives described the reshuffle as a Brownite takeover, claiming that almost two-thirds of the Shadow Cabinet are known supporters of Gordon Brown. Labour dismissed that as "nonsense", saying the faction-fighting of the Blair-Brown era is over and that Mr Miliband had appointed people on merit.

The Labour leader's main goal was to sharpen up the performance of his top team after criticism that it was not landing enough blows on the Government. He also wants to ensure a more co-ordinated assault on the Coalition. "We have been a collection of individuals rather than playing as a team," one opposition frontbencher admitted.

Mr Miliband said: "My decision to appoint half a dozen members of the 2010 intake shows the talent that Labour has and the way in which this new generation can join us in taking Labour's agenda forward."

The New Faces in the Shadow Cabinet

Tom Watson

Labour Party Deputy Chair and Campaign Co-ordinator

Confidant of Gordon Brown who fought a lonely battle against News International on phone-hacking. Is now a Labour hero; his name was cheered at the party conference.

Stephen Twigg

Shadow Education Secretary

Defeated Michael Portillo in true-blue Enfield Southgate in 1997, but lost the seat in 2005. Returned as MP for Liverpool West Derby. Former schools minister.

Vernon Coaker

Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary

Former deputy headmaster who was police minister in the last Government. Ally of Ed Balls, and popular within the party.

Margaret Curran

Shadow Scottish Secretary

Only an MP for 17 months, but has long experience of Labour politics in Scotland. Was defeated at Glasgow East by-election in 2008, but won it back in 2010.

Liz Kendall

Shadow Minister for Care and Older People

Has a background as special adviser (to Harriet Harman and Patricia Hewitt) and policy wonk, regarded as one of the brightest of the 2010 intake.

Michael Dugher

Shadow Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)

Earned his spurs as Gordon Brown's spokesman. Born and bred in South Yorkshire and now MP for Barnsley East. Strong union links.

Emily Thornberry

Shadow Attorney General

Former barrister who has been MP for Islington South and Finsbury for six years. Previously a health spokeswoman.

Rachel Reeves

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

There was little doubt Rachel Reeves would be handed a financial brief. Before her election, she worked as an economist at the Bank of England (specialising in quantitative easing), the British Embassy in Washington and the Bank of Scotland. Her husband is a senior Treasury official.

She is by instinct a New Labour-style moderniser, but is respected across the party and persuaded Gordon Brown to write the foreword last year to her book Why Vote Labour?

Ed Miliband brought her on to his front bench as a pension spokesman at his first opportunity last year.

Chuka Umunna

Shadow Business, Innovation and Skills Secretary

Even before his election as Streatham MP last year, he was being labelled a "Labour leader-in-waiting" and the "British Barack Obama". Of Nigerian, Irish and English descent, Umunna becomes the first male black member of a Labour shadow Cabinet. He is on the centre-left of the party and a strong critic of the Iraq war which he condemned as a "massive, era-defining mistake". Ed Miliband appointed him as his Parliamentary Private Secretary in October and has now given him the task of opposing Vince Cable.

...those moving jobs

Eight Shadow Cabinet members are to take on new or altered roles. The most eye-catching move is Andy Burnham's switch from education to health. Harriet Harman, the deputy Labour leader, is exchanging her international development post for the job of shadow Culture Secretary. It is a direct swap with Ivan Lewis, who is demoted to shadow International Secretary. Angela Eagle becomes shadow Commons Leader. She takes over from Hilary Benn, who is now shadow Communities Secretary in succession to Caroline Flint. Tessa Jowell loses her Cabinet Office remit to Jon Trickett.

...and those moving on

John Healey, who is quitting after a lacklustre spell as shadow Health Secretary, said he wanted to spend more time with his wife and teenage son.

John Denham is retiring as the shadow Business Secretary to take the unpaid role of Ed Miliband's parliamentary secretary. He is to step down as an MP at the next election. Shaun Woodward, the former Tory MP who defected to Labour and became Northern Ireland Secretary, is being replaced in the Ulster brief.

Two women are departing after just one year – Meg Hillier (shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, right) and Ann McKechin (shadow Scottish Secretary). Baroness Scotland of Asthal is being replaced as shadow Attorney-General.


Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
videoWatch Lynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance
A view of today's Spanish papers
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'

Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 pose for Children in Need 2001
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution

Review: Witty banalities aside, the comedian has an authentic voice

Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Support Analyst - London - £22,000

£20000 - £22000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chel...

Learning Support Assistants-Nantwich area

£8 - £9 per hour: Randstad Education Chester: We are currently recruiting for ...

Primary Teachers-Northwich area

£85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Primary Teachers- Northwich Ar...

Primary Teachers-Northwich area

£85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Primary Teachers- Northwich Ar...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London