Out with the new... Miliband invites Blairite stalwarts to join Shadow Cabinet

Lord Faulkner among the heavyweights set to return to Labour's top table

Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the former Lord Chancellor and friend and ally of Tony Blair, is set to return to frontline politics when Ed Miliband uses his new power to choose the Shadow Cabinet to try to improve Labour's performance.

Click HERE to view graphic (208k jpg).

Lord Falconer backed David Miliband in last year's Labour leadership struggle but has urged the party to rally behind Ed. He is regarded as the sort of experienced "big beast" the Shadow Cabinet has lacked in the past year.

The Labour leader will also offer a place in his top team to Alan Johnson, who resigned as shadow Chancellor in January for personal reasons. Although Mr Johnson has not ruled out a comeback before the next election, he is unlikely to return in the next reshuffle.

John Healey is expected to lose his post as shadow Health Secretary, although he may switch to a different role in the Shadow Cabinet. The crucial health job is expected to go to Andy Burnham, a former Health Secretary who currently holds the education brief.

Others in the top team who may be moved include Meg Hillier, the shadow Energy Secretary, and Caroline Flint, the shadow Communities Secretary.

Junior frontbenchers tipped for a promotion to the Shadow Cabinet include Rachel Reeves, spokeswoman on pensions, and Michael Dugher, a defence spokesman, who both entered the Commons at last year's election. Other new MPs who have impressed the party leadership and may move up the ladder include junior frontbenchers Gloria De Piero and Liz Kendall, and backbencher Tristram Hunt.

Mr Miliband has not yet decided when to carry out his reshuffle. Some Labour MPs are pressing him to freshen up his team next month, but others say there is no rush and that he could wait until after David Cameron carries out a Cabinet shake-up, which is expected next spring.

A rule change approved by this week's Labour conference in Liverpool handed the party leader the power to choose the Shadow Cabinet. Until now, its members have been elected every two years by Labour MPs, with posts allocated by the leader.

This system was criticised for sparking a "beauty contest" among ambitious Labour figures, some of whom were accused of spending too much time wooing the party's backbenchers. Lord Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister, has urged Mr Miliband to drop some lightweights from the Shadow Cabinet to make way for more heavy hitters. He said: "This is a Tory government that's doing some outrageous things and we haven't had many words of protest." He told Mr Miliband: "Ed, you're the leader, get a Shadow Cabinet who'll do that."

Yesterday, the Labour leader insisted he had great confidence in his Shadow Cabinet. "I think it is an excellent team," he told Sky News.

Amid speculation that a reshuffle is imminent, shadow ministers may have had their last chance to impress Mr Miliband when they made their speeches at this week's conference.

In an unofficial "beauty contest" yesterday, Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, topped a poll of the readers of the LabourList website, who were asked to rate the performance of the party's senior frontbenchers. She was followed by her husband, Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, with Mr Burnham third, then Douglas Alexander, the shadow Foreign Secretary, and Harriet Harman, the deputy leader, who shadows international development.

The bottom five places were occupied by Mary Creagh, who speaks on the environment; Rosie Winterton, the chief whip; Ms Hillier; Shaun Woodward, the Northern Ireland spokesman; and Ann McKechin, who holds the Scottish brief.

Some Labour insiders believe the party's progress in Mr Miliband's first year as leader has been hampered by the weak performance by some Shadow Cabinet members. They suspect that some former ministers have not adjusted well to opposition, while other shadow ministers lack experience and have struggled.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
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

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam