David Miliband has gone. We now need more “star strikers” in our top team

by Renie Anjeh

As Chuka Ummuna put it on twitter “one of Labour’s strikers has left the field”. Many Tory MPs were jubilant at David Miliband’s departure from British politics to run the IRC. They tried to spin this as evidence of Labour lurching to the left, but I could not help thinking that it their joy was really about Labour losing a big beast who Ed Miliband could bring back before 2015.

Last week’s mini-reshuffle showed that Cameron is in constant fear of his backbenchers as they move his party further to the right, but to contrast that Ed needs his own reshuffle to show that he is in command of his ship.

Firstly, he must promote the big beasts of the future. Top of that list should be Stella Creasy and Tristram Hunt as shadow cabinet office minister and shadow universities minister. Caroline Flint could be promoted to another domestic policy brief to allow the entry of Luciana Berger and perhaps Gregg McClymont could join as shadow Scotland secretary with Margaret Curran becoming the new chief whip – as she did a similar job in the Scottish Parliament.

Secondly, Ed needs some good former ministers.  David Lammy is a prime candidate. He is a great thinker especially on social policy, his book “Out Of Ashes” is testament to that and he is full of refreshing ideas especially on social policy.  He could be a reforming Justice Secretary in a future Labour government.

Lord Adonis who is already an industrial policy adviser should become leader of the Labour party in the House of Lords. Like Lammy he is a great thinker, who is always active and such appointment would send a strong signal that Labour remains on the centre ground.

Jon Cruddas also talks of how Labour should reclaim the ‘big society’; therefore it would make sense for Hazel Blears to become a new shadow minister without portfolio.

Thirdly, Ed should separate his strategic inner circle from the political shadow cabinet. He could have a close-knit team of advisers such as Lord Wood, Tim Livesey and Michael Dugher rather than some of them being shadow ministers.

It would also make sense for Peter Kellner and Joan Ryan to join such team in the run-up to the election. James Purnell would be a welcome talent but his role at the BBC may preclude a comeback.

Fourthly, Ed needs to be bold.  Labour is still behind when it comes to trust on the economy even now when Plan A has failed. If this does not change by September 2014, then Ed must bring back Alistair Darling as shadow chancellor. He is the man who predicted the crisis, who superbly handled the crisis, who was straight with the public on the deficit and as a result his reputation has increased.

Such appointment would frighten the Tories and could bring back our reputation for fiscal prudence. Ed Balls could be offered the job of shadow foreign secretary, as Europe is one of Balls’ great fortes, and one of the great offices of state.  Douglas Alexander could become the full-time general election campaign co-ordinator with the title Labour party chair (which is currently one of Harrier Harman’s several honorifics). If Ed Balls says no and returns the backbenches, Alexander could still become a full-time campaign co-ordinator and Jim Murphy could take his job with a promotion for Dan Jarvis – a man many see as the next Labour leader.

This would provide Labour with a credible cabinet team after the next election. Whatever happens, some change, something to galvanise the team, will be needed before the election.

Renie Anjeh is a Labour party activist

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19 Responses to “David Miliband has gone. We now need more “star strikers” in our top team”

  1. Ex-Labour says:

    I for one don’t buy the “I’m off to do this wonderful job” speach by David Miliband. He could see that the Labour party was lurching left and offering no alternative to the government. The “usual suspects” (looney left) are agitating on the back benches and defying whips and McClusky is using his unions financial muscle to control what Ed Miliband does. Miliband (E) is also in fear and beholden to Looney Left / Unions me thinks.

    The current Labour party is no place for a Blairite thinker, the “usual suspects” have made this clear. I’m sure they will be raising a glass of bubbly when David Miliband made his announcement along with the Tories.

    Miliband coming back before 2015 ? Dream on !

  2. Renie Anjeh says:

    My piece had nothing on David Miliband coming back before 2015, in fact the whole point was acknowledging that there is a huge hole that needs refilling. If “Blairite” thinkers have no place in the party then why is Hazel Blears chairing Labour’s Social Action group or Lord Adonis advising on industrial policy or the many shadow cabinet ministers who have been identified as Blairites. Labour is not lurching to the left, and I don’t see what your comment has to do with a reshuffle of the top team?

  3. swatantra says:

    First, drop Balls and bring back Darling as a safer and more convincing pair of hands.
    Second, bring on the bright young things mentioned, except for Lammy; we need a few less great thinkers like Lammy Adonis, Cruddas and Purnell, and more doers, capable of getting difficult changes through to a sceptical electorate.
    Third, people like Flint Harman and Blears and Abbott should now be thinking of making way for those on the way up, like Dan Jarvis.
    Fourth Ed M just needs to be bolder, whatever the outcome of 2015.
    Fifth Margaret Beckett for Speaker, or Leader in the Lords.

  4. John Reid says:

    Ex labour, only 43 people voted against the welfar bill

  5. Kevin Barry says:

    ‘Ex-Labour’, or should it be ‘Anti-Labour’, perhaps ‘Current-Conservative’, has loyally followed the line that is being promoted by CCHQ, and their trusted surrogates in the print media. They are accusing Labour of moving to the left, without providing any evidence for the claim – that is because there is no evidence. I would be most interested to learn if ‘Ex-Labour’ is willing to furnish us with a scintlla of evidence to back up his/her assertions.

  6. Renie Anjeh says:

    @swantrata – Agree on first point. We need the thinkers in a strong Cabinet, otherwise you will get a bunch of doers who don’t think. They understand how people think and can come up with new ideas. You also need experienced people from across the party who know how Government works like Blears, Harman, Flint etc. Margaret Beckett cannot lead in the Lords because she isn’t a peer.

  7. Ex-Labour says:

    @ Renie Anjah

    You mentioned “lurching to the left” so I commented on it.

    You mentioned Miliband coming back before 2015 so I commented on it.

    I could have said more. Did you see the Twitter nonsense from Lammy ? Blears a gret thinker – er…..not.

    You say Adonis is in charge of Industrial Policy. What policy – nobody has seen any policy from Labour on anything !

    If you dont want people commenting on your blog or aspects of it, then don’t write it.

    @ John Reid

    Media reported 44 dissenters. Whether its 43 or 44 my point is Labours looney left is on the rise again. I’m old enough to remember Labour being unelectable through Hatton etc.

    @ Kevin Barry

    If you follow my comments on this blog you will know I was a 30 year Labour voter. But as you now see from my moniker I’m an ex-Labour voter. Had enough of Brown, Balls etc and the way they despise the general public. Brown’s comment to the lady during the last election campaign said it all.

    You want evidence of lurching to the left. Its right there everyday in the form of Ed Miliband. The looney left unions put him there and are currently funding him and the party. Dont think for one minute that McClusky wont want a return on his investment.

  8. Kevin Barry says:

    @ ‘Ex-Labour’
    Even through the halcyon days of Mr Blair’s premiership, the trade unions were significant contributors to the Labour party, and I don’t recall any ‘lurch to the left’. Far from it, Labour governed, quite rightly, from the centre of British politics. Ed Miliband shall do the same.
    It is evident that you are clearly still engaged with politics, unfortunately it appears to be in support of the Conservative party.

  9. Ex-labour says:

    @ Kevin Barry

    The difference between the Blair regime was that they recognised that there was such things as personal property and personal responsibility. In general they governed for everyone. Some would argue it was Conservatism with a small c. My fear is that the current strategy (such as it is) is spend, spend and then spend more. To do this they wil have to get money somewhere I.e. tax increases. No doubt the working person will be hit and hit again in their pockets.

    As for union influence the Blair government did accept funding but recognised they could not be beholden to the unions in such a way as the Miliband regime is.

    You are correct that I voted Conservative last time, and in the absence of any current Labour policies there seems little option but to do so again. In my opinion Labour has become a party of negativity as they seem to say no to everything but offer no solutions of their own.

  10. John Reid says:

    Ex labour,I’ll defend you to Kevin berry who said that you’re a Tory , because you say labour is swinging towards the left, I take it you’re saying that as you don’t want to happen, aTory would like labour to swing towards the left as it’ll put us out of power for years,but I’d hardly compare 43 m.p.s voting against a piece of legislation including Nick Brown and Frank Field the equivalent of Hatton

    Kevin , the trade unions only contributed a small amount during blairs time, and there were concession on unions, the sacked miners kept their pensions, unions in GCHQ

  11. Renie Anjeh says:

    I mentioned that Tories thought Labour is lurching to the left which is predictable. I never said in that article that David Miliband would come back in 2015 (I suggest you actually read it). Twitter nonsense happens to most politicians, on Hazel Blears I never put her in my list of ‘great thinkers’. Adonis is in charge of industrial policy – that includes stuff like the report on infrastructure, the TechBacc, plans to boost the construction industry – you cannot complain that Labour has not drafted an entire manifesto right now, that would be seriously unwise. I’d love you to contribute but it was not relevant to the blog but more about your own position and rabblings some of which had no ground whatsoever.

  12. Steven says:

    Renie – I thought you should have given more prominence to Jim Murphy – surely, sooner or later, he is set to take over from Ed as leader – no matter what happens in 2015.

    I was particularly impressed by JM’s recent piece on the need for preventative intervention in Africa. If this becomes firm policy I feel that it offers a way forward that will circumvent the fears of ‘Ex-Labour’: rather than receive funding from “loony-left” Trade Unions Labour will be able to attract donations from the armaments industry and related security contractors. The problem of left wing influence will be solved. And the Unions can go whistle.

  13. Anon E Mouse says:

    “We now need more “star strikers” in our top team”

    Don’t you mean “some” star strikers?

  14. Ex-Labour says:

    @ John Reid

    I would like to vote Labour again but based on what I see currently there is no way I can do this. Labour is moving leftwards, not necessarily far left, but my point is that there are many unknowns such as the McClusky/union ties, or any kind of policy which is in the public domain which are yet to play out.

    All I see is negativity with Labour offering no solutions or alternatives, just sat on the sidelines sniping away.

    I was surprised to see Frank Field voting against, I remember when he was asked to think the unthinkable, which he did and then Labour kicked it all into the long grass, prefering to do nothing – much the same as today.

  15. Ex-Labour says:

    @ Renie Anjeh

    So, you mention several things within your blog, which commenters wish to make comment on, but in your world unless you comment specifically on the theme of your blog then you are not allowed to comment ?

    OK so here is comment directly on your theme. Labour currently has no ‘big hitters’ or ‘star strikers’. Will any emerge over the next two years – maybe, maybe not. Its all a bit too late now anyway. I dont even think David Miliband was in that category anyway as he seemed to only pop up occassionally to make a speech in public or write the odd article. Star Stikers need to do more I think, but he was hampered by having his brother at the helm.

    I would like to see Alister Darling back, but has Miliband the courage to get rid of Balls – I think not.

  16. Mike says:

    Is this all we have? I hope the 2015 intake makes us more representative, of the communities we serve. People a really getting bored of former politicos. All the people you suggested be promoted are the same, they speak the same think the same…

    On the door step more and more voters describe UKIP as being normal. This is of course nonsense just compared to our weirdos, with generic hand gestures and complete failure to be excited by any issue.

  17. John P Reid says:

    Mike depends who gets in in 2015, seats like Thurrock and stevenage, have been given to SPads, and reasearchers, I’m sure some taget seats like Norwich, are locals, but it all seems rather managed, and that excludes all women shortlists,

  18. Mike says:


    That is very dissapointing. Frankly these people treat the party with contempt, by their sense of entitlement.

    As I said in my previous post we could pay a very heavy price for this.

  19. Waggle says:

    David is biding his time before he returns to be elected to lead Bold Labour.

    …will it be 2018 or 2021?

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