Labour’s plan to keep the details of its reshuffle a secret until tomorrow went spectacularly awry on Thursday evening after journalists found out much of it anyway, and two shadow ministers said they wanted to resign publicly before it looked like they had been sacked. (Was it #PickardJE who first broke news this morning that reshuffle had begun?)
Those two were John Healey, shadow health secretary and John Denham, shadow business secretary. Both have attracted criticism from within Labour. Healey was blamed for alowing the Lib Dems to look like they had led the opposition to the health bill (even though they signed off on it), while Denham has been blamed for not doing enough to win over business – although he has long said he didn’t want to stay for long.
So who else is tipped to be going where?
Rachel Reeves – The most spectacular promotion of all. Reeves has gone from shadow pensions minister, where she won plaudits for challenging the govt on its decision to change the timetable for raising the pension age for women, to shadow chief secretary to the Treasury. A former Bank of England economist, she will use her experience to challenge Danny Alexander in one of the most high-profile front bench roles. (Tonight there was speculation that she could get an even bigger job such as education.)
Chuka Umunna – Rumoured to be taking over from Denham as shadow business secretary. Another young face long tipped for Labour stardom. His eloquence and good looks are likely to see him pushed forward for frequent TV appearances. He also understands the business world as a former corporate lawyer.
Andy Burnham - Is understood to have told the Labour leadership he is unhappy at education* and would like to move to health, a role he performed successfully while in government. He would therefore make the natural replacement for Healey.
Angela Eagle – Leaving as shadow chief sec to become shadow energy secretary. This job is not easy as Chris Huhne’s energy market reforms are building on Labour’s legacy. But Eagle will be expected to push the govt to stick to its green credentials despite opposition from the Treasury.
Shaun Woodward – The former Tory MP is leaving as shadow Northern Ireland secretary, having done the role while in government for three years.
David Hamilton – Left-wing former miner becomes a whip.
Who’s apparently not leaving?
Who’s apparently not joining?
Charlie Falconer – Not so long ago, Labour sources were saying the former Lord Chancellor and Tony Blair’s old flatmate, would be coming back. This week, they are saying they didn’t ask him. Curious.
Alan Johnson – Another big beast rumoured for a return to front bench politics. Apparently not. But why is his spokesman refusing to reply to our texts and phone calls? Watch this space.
* Burnham’s aide has been in touch to say he loves the education beat