Labour’s reshuffle was initiated as Angela Rayner was on her feet - it inevitably obscured her speech. That could be seen as incompetent timing, throwing away all the work that inevitably goes into a big intervention. Or it can be seen as a deliberate two-fingers to the deputy leader, designed to assert some authority. Some of the write-ups after the event favour the latter interpretation. Both scenarios would be poor politics. But a deliberate attempt to lord it over the most senior woman in the party would be a reminder a leadership that promised unity across the party is not even delivering it with the elected deputy leader.
We are now a long way from Keir Starmer’s first shadow cabinet. The reshuffle completes the process of the removal of the Socialist Campaign Group from the shadow cabinet. The Campaign Group left now has no standard-bearers in the shadow cabinet, despite the considerable degree of support it has amongst many members of the party.
In itself the reshuffle does not add any radically new questions for the left’s strategy, given that this was clearly where things were heading. But it undoubtedly underlines the questions already under discussion.
Just as the SCG exits the shadow cabinet, Pat McFadden’s promotion to its ranks as shadow chief secretary to the Treasury is significant. Many MPs on the right of Labour look to him as a leading figure of Blairite opinion in the party. His elevation to the shadow cabinet is a visible indication of the leadership’s embrace of this strand of the PLP.