Ten to follow for possible promotion
Ed Miliband’s September reshuffle will be a significant affair and his last chance to form his team in the run up to the election. There is creeping frustration in the leaders’ office with the lack of new ideas among some shadow ministers and there’s a strong sense that an injection of new blood is needed. Here are my top ten to follow in the run up to the reshuflled – I expect them to do well.
Gloria De Piero Down to Earth and a plain speaking communicator, Gloria is an experienced TV pro from her time as GMTV’s political correspondent. This adds finesse to her longstanding working class no-nonsense roots. If you haven’t seen her in action, watch her on Channel 4 news the other day when Chris Bryant experienced his day to forget on immigration. She turned defence into attack and came over as likeable, honest and normal – exactly the sort of person Labour needs representing the party right now.
Rachel Reeves Smart, steely and determined. Currently on maternity leave she’s ready to come back and make a bang. Combative yet considered she has the confidence to take on Treasury ministers and more times than not come off best. This chess enthusiast is likely to be given a bigger brief and would be expected to put Michael Gove under far more pressure than Stephen Twigg – should she be given the Education role.
Toby Perkins A former small businessman from the Midlands, Perkins represents the sort of person Labour’s lacked in recent years. He’s clever, industrious and a good listener. Exactly the sort of person placed to test out Labour’s policies, win some support from the business community and rub off some of the party’s excessive metropolitan edges.
Luciana Berger A much-improved communicator and a quick-learner. Brings a freshness to her thinking and interviews.
Andrew Gwynne Popular, personable and instinctively loyal, Andrew Gwynne is one of the best prospects from the 2005 intake yet to get his big break. This could be his time.
Dan Jarvis This celebrated soldier has made the successful move from Iraq and Afghanistan to Westminster. Handsome and with a background Labour finds irresistible, he’ll not remain as shadow culture minister for much longer.
Michael Dugher Fought the Labour selection in Doncaster North against Ed Miliband but has a good relationship with the leader and was appointed his PPS when elected 5 years later. Dugher is an old head on young shoulders with bags of political acumen having served for Gordon Brown and Head of Policy for the AEEU union under its moderate leadership of Ken Jackson, before it became Amicus and Unite. A regular in the press and could also provide the political bodyguard role Tom Watson previously offered.
Kevan Jones A tailor-made Defence Secretary. A Labour tribalist and firm supporter of Trident. Don’t expect any cosy chats with Lib Dems over nuclear compromise. There’s more to Jones than his hard man reputation and he won many plaudits for the way he talked about mental health last year alongside Charles Walker. With growing question marks over Jim Murphy’s loyalty to Ed Miliband, Jones would be a straight forward and reliable replacement.
Owen Smith Intellectually sharp and conciliatory he provided the best defence and explanation of Ed Miliband’s union proposals to date. The Welsh MP has done a tidy job as shadow Welsh Secretary and would be put to better use elsewhere.
Vernon Coaker Thoughtful, decent and shrewd. Jon Cruddas describes him as an ‘oracle’ for good reason. Wasted in Northern Ireland.
My ten tips all offer that combination of grit and political flair that opposition parties need. There’s only so much space available in the Shadow Cabinet but expect to see and hear more of these people in the months to come.