Labour “rebel” with a cause


WANNABE Labour leader Liz Kendall told yesterday of her lifelong “rebel” streak which she hopes will propel her party back into power.

The feisty MP admits she’s a born agitator – making her well qualified to break up the old guard standing in the way of change.

Despite being a new face to most voters, she says that makes her the only “sure bet” to put Labour on the path to government again.

Unlike her two main rivals – Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper – Ms Kendall has never held a Cabinet post.

But she’s been “leading from the front” since she was made head girl at pop star Geri Halliwell’s old school, Watford Grammar.

“I always thought myself as a bit of a rebel,” she declared. “So when they pinned the badge on me I couldn’t believe it.

“On the first day, I had full make-up on and the headmistress called me in and said ‘You’ve got to wipe all that off your face’. I remember thinking I don’t want to do this.

“But being head girl gave me an early taste of responsibility. I relish it and never shirk it. I don’t know why but I’ve always liked leading from the front.”

Ms Kendall, 44, also ran after-school sports clubs and societies and also captained the ladies’ football team at Queens’College, Cambridge.

She said: “I wasn’t particularly great on the pitch but I loved getting people together, building a team, going out to win.

“People want a strong leader. They want someone who listens, debates, decides and then leads from the front.

“I often look at great sportsmen and women and if you saw what happened in the Olympics, all of those gold medal winners always thanked the team. They said it wasn’t just them.

“That’s as true in politics as it is in sport. You need a team player who is able to point their side in the right direction and take everyone with them.

“I think I’m a sure bet because I’m the candidate who is going to change the party so we can win to change the country.”

Ms Kendall, 44, says Labour must wake up to the “catastrophic” scale of its election defeat before it accepts the scale of the changes needed to win again.


Liz Kendall talks to David Wooding

She said: “We need profound change, to put it mildly. A change of face and a bit of tweaking won’t be enough to win back voters who left us for Ukip, the SNP and Tories.

“So we need to turn the page and have a fresh start – and I’m the only person who can do that.”

Fitness fanatic Ms Kendall, who does four 45-minute runs a week, believes her boundless energy and modern thinking will overcome her lack of experience at top level.

“It’s not about the jobs you’ve done in the past,” she said. “It’s about understanding how our country has changed and what people want to get a better life for themselves and their families.

“The painful truth is people didn’t trust us on the economy or with their taxes and we didn’t have a positive vision for a better life that everyone could feel part of.

“It’s their money, not ours. They are busting a gut every week to earn a living and it’s their hard-earned taxes we are spending. So we have got to be more careful with their money and get the best out of every penny we spend.

“We shouldn’t be spending more on servicing our debt than on educating our children. We should be investing in things that really matter for people

“It helps to be a new face but we also have to have a new argument.”

She blasts Ed Miliband’s failed election campaign for being too narrow in its appeal.

He talked a lot about “one nation” but then failed to follow it through by focussing on a single social group.

Ms Kendal said: “I care passionately about people who are struggling but we have got to have a vision of a better life for everybody.

“If you weren’t on a zero-hours contract or the minimum wage or if you own your own home, we didn’t have anything to say. We want to be a government for the whole country and that means having a much broader message to people.”

Ms Kendall’s parents typify the sort of aspirational voters she believes her party needs to win back. Her mum was a primary school teacher while her dad, who left school at 16, studied for finance exams while working at the Bank of England.

Turning on her opponents, she added: “We need big, big changes and I’m the only candidate offering that.

“We don’t want ten more years of opposition. We want five years to set out a better vision and win in 2020.”

Dark-haired Ms Kendall, a svelte size eight, admits her personal life has been a little chaotic since she became MP for Leicester West in 2010.

Her current crisis is the “random splodge” on the white jacket she is wearing for our interview.

“It probably happened on the bus,” she said before asking an aide to dash to collect a pink M&S replacement from her flat.

“I showed my mum the jacket and she just went ‘Tut, tut. It will never last.’

“She was right. It’ll teach me never to wear white again. Other things I have to think about is not having any milk in the fridge . I’ve also run out of toothpaste.

“But like most people I know what comes in and out of my bank account. I know what I pay for and what it costs for what I buy. But I am not going to pretend I buy things that I don’t. People lead different lives.”

Ms Kendall recently ended an eight-year relationship with comedian and Inbetweeners star Greg Davies.

She is coy about discussing the break-up, adding: “He’s still a good friend and he makes me laugh. I thought the Inbetweeners was hysterical, properly funny and tapped into.”

Would she stand more chance of winning if she had a family?

“I’ve got a family,” she retorts. “Families come in lots of different shapes and sizes and I spend a lot of time – not as much as I’d like – with my nieces.

“They’re aged five and eight and they love Irish dancing and put in so much effort and energy. I danced a lot when I was younger. I love it and know how much you have to work at it.

“I went to see them in a concert. They did a funky 80s neon legwarmer version and they were out there, giving it their all, confident, in front of all these people and I felt very proud.”

The shadow care minister also has a wide circle of friends outside the Westminster “bubble”, which helps her to keep a foot in the real world.

“I try and stay as normal as possible,” she says. “If I don’t, my friends will tell me where to get off. Most of them aren’t involved in politics. They do lots of other things and that helps me.

“But I am also proud that I’m in politics because it is about changing people’s lives.

“That’s why I’ve thrown my hat in the ring. Because I love my party, I love my country. I think the Tories are letting the country down. But Labour is, too.

“And we’ve got to change if we are going to convince people to trust us to govern again.”


Toddlers would get an early-step on the learning ladder if Liz Kendall becomes PM.

She wants pre-school education to be given equal status to primary and secondary schools.

Ms Kendall said: “My parents taught me education was my ticket to better life but sadly the labour party has stopped talking about education and forgotten what it’s for.

“We’ve got to start really young.  Kids in my constituency start school 15 months behind where they should be in their development and then play catch up for the rest of their lives. That’s my big thing on education. Start young.”


THE world of work has changed dramatically, she says, and so must Labour’s attitude to jobs.

“We’ve got to be a high-skill, high-wage economy in every part of the country,” she added. “We need a modern industrial strategy right across the country.

“The world is changing, work is changing and we’ve got to change and so have the unions. Women are working full time, part time, in all different sorts of sectors.”

Only 14 per cent of private sector workers now belong to a union and 15 per cent of Britain’s workforce is self-employed.

Ms Kendall said: “We’re Labour, the party of work, but we can be pro-business and pro-worker.

“Great companies know they do better if their employees have good skills. And good union leaders know that if businesses make profits, thrive, grow and expand, their members will do better, too.”


LIZ Kendall was first of the leadership candidates to say she was in favour of an in-out referendum.

She said: “It was a mistake not to have done so before the election. Europe has got to change.

“We have to have the courage of our convictions, go out and make the case.  I am very strong on Britain staying part of Europe because I believe it is vital for jobs and investment.”


SPICE Girl Geri Halliwell went to the same school as Ms Kendal – in the year below.

She remembers her well and spotted her as a rising star at a talent contest at Watford Grammar School, Herts.

Ms Kendal said: “I remember thinking, God, she is giving it her all.

“She was making the very best she could and was full of guts, passion and energy.”

She added: “I didn’t know her really well. But I couldn’t help but notice her. I remember spotting her for the first time and thinking ‘Wow!’”


LIZ Kendall never pulls her punches – and socked it to a phantom fridge raider who swiped her packed lunch.

She was stunned to find her tuna sandwich missing when she went to pick it up one day soon after landing her frontbench job.

So she left a hand-written note on the communal fridge door in a Commons corridor.

It said: “Someone has stolen my lunch from this fridge. I do not appreciate this and warn other people don’t leave anything in her unless you’re happy for it to go missing.”

But next day, a riposte appeared on a bright yellow sticky note: “I took it…AND I’D DO IT AGAIN.”

Later, a third message was added, reading: “YOU ARE A VERY SICK INDIVIDUAL.”

Ms Kendal said: “I bought a sandwich and a salad at a supermarket and put the bag containing them in the fridge.

“They only took one thing out so it wasn’t as if they nicked the whole bag. So I wrote a note warning other MPs on this corridor. Then someone wrote another little note saying they’d do it again, so it was quite funny. But I didn’t write the third note.”

New Sneers Honours

IT’S been a year when the people of Britain have stuck a collective two fingers up to MPs.
Voters have used the ballot box to take their revenge on politicians of all varieties, whom many see as out of touch.
But some MPs and peers  haven’t learned a thing as they hurl insults, throw tantrums and sneer at ordinary people.
So in an irreverent, but light-hearted, look back at the past year in Parliament, here are my New Sneer’s Honours.
Sneer of the Realm: Labour’s Emily Thornberry who scoffed at a house with three England flags and a white van outside. She resigned as shadow attorney general hours after tweeting a picture of them hours before the Rochester by-election result.
Life sneerage: Fouled-mouthed Tory Andrew Mitchell fought a £3 million, two-year legal after denying he called cops “plebs” when they refused to let him ride his bike through the Downing Street main gates. A High Court judge sided with the cops and told the snobbish ex-Chief Whip: “On yer bike.”
Cabbie-net Minister of the Year: David Mellor berated a taxi driver who suggested a quicker route, calling him a “a smart-arsed little b*****d” and telling him: “Shut up you sweaty little git.” The Tory ex-minister added: “I’ve been in the Cabinet, I’m an award-winning broadcaster, I’m a Queen’s counsel.” He was forced to apologise after cabbies threatened to ban him. I’d like to see how long he waits next time he wants to hail a taxi.
Sneer of the Year: Tory MP Mark Garnier for telling his party not to bother with “dog-end voters” who live in “outlying regions”. Suspect he’ll soon be at the dog-end of his political career.

Emily Thornberry and the twitpic that cost her her job.

Yes, Yes, Yes Minister: Deputy PM’s wife Miriam Clegg wins the honesty award for saying “women have been faking it for years”. But has she told husband Nick?
Snooze-Night TV Award: David Cameron, who admitted he often dozes off on the sofa when he has a night in front of the telly with wife Sam. The PM said: “Half an hour of Silent witness and we’re both asleep.” At least Sam doesn’t have to fake it.
The “Three minutes is a long time in politics” Award: Tory chief whip Michael Gove was nominated by his gossipy wife Sarah Vine. When told that men burn 4.2 calories a minute during sex, she quipped: “Wow! That’s 12.6 calories a session.”
Big Benn Clanger of the Year: Diane Abbott for live tweeting from inside church at Tony Benn’s funeral. An angry admirer of the Labour legend (that’s Benn, not Abbott) raged: “Why not go the whole hog and do a selfie with the coffin?”
The Prat that got the Queen: The royal claws were out for David Cameron after he claimed Her Majesty “purred” with pleasure when he phoned her the No vote in the Scottish independence referendum.
OBE – ‘Orrible Butty Eater: Ed Miliband, who bit off more than he could chew when he tried to battle his way through a bacon sandwich. The sarnie won.
The Gillette Award for Sharpest Political Putdown: Louise Mensch after MP’s wife Karen Danczuk posted saucy cleavage selfies on Twitter: “Put them away, love. Frankly, I’d rather see Ed Miliband eating a bacon sandwich.”
Karen Danczuk gives yours truly a lesson in how to take a selfie.

Karen Danczuk gives yours truly a lesson in how to take a selfie.

Gold Medal for Selfie-Exposure: Charities Minister Brooks Newmark resigned after sending explicit photographs of himself to an undercover reporter. The nation was appalled at his bad taste. Surely, no self-respecting MP would be seen dead hanging out of paisley pyjamas.
Class Warrior of the Year: Singer Myleene Klass for ripping Ed Miliband to shreds on TV over his planned mansion tax. “You can’t just point at something and say let’s tax it,” she stormed. “You might as well tax this glass of water.”
Worst political U-turn: Ed Balls, who was investigated by cops after hitting a parked car while doing a seven-point turn in a narrow street then driving off. It’s not the first time the shadow chancellor has found himself in a tight spot.
The Jack Horner Award for Women’s Rights: Nigel Farage, who infuriated mums by telling them to breastfeed in the corner of cafes and restaurants where nobody could see them.

Exposed: My story about Brooks Newmark.

Feminist of the Year: Sports Minister Helen Grant for her efforts to get more women involved in physical activity with these fine words of advice: “There are some wonderful sports you can do and look absolutely radiant and very feminine. Ballet, gymnastics, cheerleading and even roller-skating.”
Overseas Aid Champion: Harriet Harman who wore a T-shirt with the slogan “This is what a feminist looks like”. Her selfless act helped to boost employment in Mauritius, where women were paid 62p an hour to work in a sweatshop making the garments.
House of Lards Pin-up of the Year: Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, who has been bombarded with demands for signed photographs from young girls in Russia. A puzzled aide admitted: “I’ve no idea why Eric is so big over there.”
Cockup of the Year: Communities Minister Penny Mordaunt for using the word “cock” six times and “lay” or “laid” five times during a Commons speech on poultry welfare. But she later let slip it was part of a smutty dare from Royal Navy officer friends.

Penny Mordaunt: Putting cock welfare first.

Twerking twerp of the year: David Cameron for twerking at an Ibiza-style rave he hosted at Chequers to celebrate his wife Samantha’s 40th birthday – after branding top twerker Miley Cyrus a bad role model for kids.

Pint of Order: George “We’re all in this together” Osborne, for keeping a padlock on his office fridge to stop staff raiding his milk. Well, at least he’s miserly with the rest of us, too.
Rocky Belt for Parliamentary Punch-ups: SNP chief Alex Salmond and Labour’s Alistair Darling who squared up in live TV debates over Scots independence. Two Scottish men shouting at each other and they didn’t have the decency to do it in a Glasgow pub.
Resignation of the Year: Home Office minister Norman Baker quits, saying that working there was like “walking through mud”. Think how your boss, Theresa May copes, Norman. She does it wearing kitten heels.


New Jeers Honours


THERE has been plenty of gloom in the corridors of power during 2013.

It’s been a year of squeezes and freezes as politicians tell us all to tighten our belts.

But through all the austerity, they still managed to make us laugh – if only at their own tantrums, cock-ups.

So let’s loosen those belts a notch or two as Sun on Sunday Political Editor David Wooding honours those MPs in his NewJeers Political Awards.

Prat of the Year

MEP Godfrey Bloom for a string of outbursts too brazen even for the “fruitcakes and loonies” of UKIP. He dubbed African countries “bongo bong land”, branding women who don’t clean behind the fridge “sluts”. UKIP boss Nigel Farage stripped him of the party whip – probably using even more fruity language in the process.

Gold medal for selfie-exposure

David Cameron was caught snoozing barefoot on a bed in the background of a picture, posted on Instagram, of his sister-in-law getting ready for her wedding. Clearly, the red ministerial box beside him was full of dreary reading.


The Gillette Award for sharpest put-down

The striker whose one-liner floored Tory heavyweight Eric Pickles after he scoffed at the small number of union activists on a Whitehall picket line.The roly poly Cabinet bruiser laughed: “I’ve walked past longer chip shop queues.” Quick as a flash, the un-named striker retorted: “But Eric, you’ve NEVER walked past a chip shop queue in your life.”

Shafter BAFTA

London Mayor Boris Johnson with this put down for Labour leader Ed Miliband: “Only a socialist could consider family ties as being so trivial as to shaft his own brother.”

Gaffe of the year 1

David Cameron for declaring he was on “team Nigella” and almost halting the trial of the TV chef’s former servants. The judge told the jury to ignore what he said. Labour would, no doubt, agree.

Gaffe of the year 2

The PM again for being unable to quote the price of a loaf – then admitting he baked his own using a posh, trendy bread-maker and organic flour.

A League of Their Own medal for sport

Sports minister Helen Grant who failed to get a single question right in a TV sports quiz.  She couldn’t name the Wimbledon women’s champ (Marion Bartoli), the FA cup holders (Wigan Athletic) or the England rugby captain (Chris Robshaw). Back in training for you, Ms Grant.

Twit of the Year

Labour MP Jack Dromey favourited gay porn websites on Twitter. The dad-of-three accidentally clicked on posts about well-endowed gay black men while researching a holiday. His wife, equalities zealot Harriet Harman, will clearly be pleased with his efforts to achieve diversity.

Jingle Balls Medal

Ed Balls, under pressure over his red-faced blustering performance at the autumn statement, mis-timed his grade three piano exam for the same day and had to postpone it. But he did better in his first public recital when he played a piece for children with only a few bum notes.

Pants on Fire Diploma

This is always a tough one in politics, with so many liars to choose from. But Chris Huhne wins this year’s award on points…the three he had put on his wife’s driving licence. The former Energy Secretary was jailed for eight months for perverting justice, but freed after serving 62 days, describing it as a “humbling and sobering experience”. True to form, it wasn’t long before he shamelessly took to the airwaves pontificating on the behaviour of others. Huhne wasn’t the only politician to run into trouble behind the wheel, though…

Strop Gear Award for Motoring

Commons Speaker John Bercow was called an “arrogant toff” and a “little weasel” in a five-minute dressing down by a mum who claimed he pranged her car while parking.

The Red “Ed” Light Award for Road discipline

Ed Balls, famed for blowing his top during Commons debates, didn’t see red for once – at a set of traffic lights. The shadow chancellor was fined after police cameras caught him jumping a red signal in his car. He confessed only weeks earlier he had also been caught speeding.

We’re all in this (parking space) together medal

George Osborne, after his car was caught on camera using a disabled parking bay in the same week the Chancellor cut disability benefits. And while we’re on motoring…

U-turn of the Year

David Cameron promised to be the greenest PM ever but with a screech of tyres he then promised to “cut the green crap” to bring down energy costs. Foot on the gas, Dave.

Margaret Thatcher memorial medal for tributes

Respect – but not respected – MP George Galloway produced the most churlish response to Lady Thatcher’s death with “tramp the dirt down”. He shares the award with ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell who provided the most cringe-making tribute: “A grocer’s daughter who taught me anything is possible…x.”

Nelson Mandela Award for Name-dropping

Nearly all top politicians were quick to boast how they once shook hands with Nelson Mandela…apart from Nick Clegg. But that didn’t stop him making a personal tribute on his death. The Deputy PM was greeted with howls of laughter as he told the Commons he never met the South African leader – but knew somebody who had.

Snouts in the Trough Award

Millionaire health secretary Jeremy Hunt, who blew £3,700 of taxpayers’ money learning his Chinese wife’s language, was front runner. But he was pipped at the post by most of the 650 other MPs who demanded an 11 per cent pay rise while the rest of us have our wages squeezed.

Fashionista of the Year

Labour’s Stella Creasy left kitten-heeled Home Secretary Theresa May in the shade by donning a chic blue PVC pencil skirt to question the PM in the Commons. Perhaps she’ll land a shadow Cabinet job – but her leader will make the vinyl decision.


Rocky Belt for Parliamentary punch-ups

Hellraiser Eric Joyce spent a night in police cells after a brawl in a Commons bar – just a year after being charged with another Westminster fracas. But it was his decision to stand down as Falkirk MP which started the mother of all punch-ups as Ed Miliband squared up to union militants over who should be Labour’s new candidate.

Snooze-night award for political broadcasting

Newsnight editor Ian Katz wins hands down for taking to Twitter to brand Labour’s rising star Rachel Reeves “boring snoring” moments after she went on his BBC2 show. Ms Reeves replied simply: “Thanks”. But red-faced Katz, only two weeks in his job after leaving the Guardian, apologized in writing.

Plain speaking award

John Prescott, who on hearing his successor as deputy PM, Nick Clegg, has 15 advisers, quipped: “Even Jesus Christ capped it at 12.”

Political wisdom award

TV’s Jeremy Paxman for summing up the three choices facing voters at the next election – barely 500 days away – thus: “The people who gave us five years of austerity, the people who left us in this mess and  the people who pledged they would not raise student fees – the most blatant lie in recent political history.”

Tom Watson quits


LABOUR MP Tom Watson has quit the Shadow Cabinet in the heat of a growing storm over a union plot to seize control of candidate selection.

In his resignation letter to Ed Miliband, he has a dig at “unattributed briefings” by fellow front-benchers.

This story is far from over. Here’s Mr Watson’s resignation letter to the Labour leader.

Dear Ed,

I said that I’d stay with you as general election co-ordinator within the Shadow Cabinet as long as I was useful. I think it would be a good idea for you, and me, if I stood down from the role now.

As you know, I offered my resignation on Tuesday and you asked me to reconsider. I’ve thought about it and still feel it is better for you and the future unity of the party that I go now. There are some who have not forgiven me for resigning in 2006. I fully accept the consequences of that decision and genuinely hope my departure allows the party to move on.

Yet it’s not the unattributed shadow cabinet briefings around the mess in Falkirk that has convinced me that the arrangement has run its course (though they don’t help). I believe that the report should be published – in full – and the whole truth told as soon as possible so that the record can be made clear. I’ve still not seen the report but believe there are an awful lot of spurious suppositions being written.

I wish to use the backbenches to speak out in areas of personal interest: open government and the surveillance state, the digital economy, drones and the future of conflict, the child abuse inquiries, the aftermath of the Murdoch scandal and grass roots responses to austerity.

Having resigned a couple of times before, I know how puckish lobby hacks might choose to misconstrue the departure. So to make it harder for them let me say this: I’m proud of your Buddha-like qualities of patience, deep thought, compassion and resolve. I remain your loyal servant. I’ll always be on hand to help you if you need me. I just don’t think you need me in the Shadow Cabinet any more. After nearly thirty years of this, I feel like I’ve seen the merry-go-round turn too many times. Whereas the Shadow Cabinet’s for people who still want to get dizzy.

You have it in you to be an outstanding Labour Prime Minister. The road ahead is always rocky but I will be with you all of the way, cheering you on from the backbenches. You’re my friend and leader, and I’m going to do all I can to make sure you win in 2015.

EU referendum – a running sore for David Cameron


DAVID Cameron faced the biggest Tory revolt in modern history tonight in a row that looks set to dog the rest of his Premiership.

Mr Cameron crushed the rebellion thanks to support from Labour and Lib Dem MPs but it left wounded and festering backbenchers vowing never to surrender on the issue.

Up to 80 of Mr Cameron’s own troops opposed him in the Commons tonight and voted in favour of a referendum on Britain’s EU membership.

It was biggest revolt suffered by a Conservative Prime Minister since 41 defied Sir John Major to oppose the Maastricht Treaty in 1993.

Labour leader Ed Miliband taunted: “This massive Tory rebellion is a humiliation for the Prime Minister.”

Some 111 MPs of all parties backed the referendum call, not enough to clinch victory on the issue. Early estimates suggest that about 80 of them were Tories.

Resentment is now mounting not only over the result, but his handling of the issue, with some claiming they were threatened by heavy-handed government whips.

Costly mistake

Two ministerial aides have quit and one private parliamentary secretary is said to have needed medical attention after he fainted during a stern showdown with the PM.

The rebels were given a further boost by two polls tonight which show voters are overwhelmingly on their side

Two-thirds of the public want a straight “in or out” referendum onBritain’s membership of the European Union, according to a ComRes survey for ITV News.

More than half – 54 per cent – believe that joining the union has been a costly mistake, delivering more problems than advantages.

But they are equally divided on full withdrawal – 37 per cent agree and 37 per cent disagree – but 41 per cent want the government to negotiate better membership terms.

And more than half would support pulling out if striking a better deal was not possible.

More than 130,000 have already signed a petition demanding a say on Britain’s future relationship with Europe.

An ICM poll for tomorrow’s Guardian shows 70 per cent want a referendum, with 49 per cent prepared to vote to pull out and only 40 per cent to stay in.

UK Independence Party chief Nigel Farage said: “It is fascinating watching the Conservatives tear themselves apart over this.


“Polls over the last few days have shown clearly that the general public believe MPs should be able to vote how they like regarding an EU referendum.”

But Mr Cameron insisted voting to leave Europe at a time of financial crisis would be like deserting your neighbours when their houses are on fire when you should be helping and stopping it from spreading to your home.

Foreign Secretary William Hague told MPs a referendum on our future in Europe was the “wrong question at the wrong time”.

With the euro in meltdown, and Britain having to stump up billions to keep it afloat, the row looks set to drag on.

After the economy, it could turn out to be one of the biggest issues to dog Mr Cameron’s premiership.

Follow me on Twitter: @davidwooding

Labour chief Ed Miliband puts new blood in shadow cabinet


LABOUR leader Ed Miliband rejuvenated his top team today by bringing five new MPs into his inner circle.

Rookies from the 2010 intake were promoted to the front bench as Mr Miliband staged his first shadow cabinet reshuffle since he landed the job a year ago.

Mr Miliband took advantage of a party rule change which allows him to choose his own spokesmen – ending the traditional elections by MPs, union chiefs and grass roots members.

Five senior MPs go out to make way for new blood – most of whom have only been MPs for less than 18 months.

Rachel Reeves (pictured right), a former Bank of England economist, becomes deputy to Ed Balls in the Treasury team. She has impressed the leadership with a wave of TV appearances since winning the Leeds West seat last year. The previous holder of the post, Angela Eagle, moves to be shadow Commons leader.

Stephen Twigg, also part of the 2010 intake, takes over as shadow education secretary, the present incumbent, Andy Burnham, moving to health – where he served as secretary of state in the last government.

Chuka Umunna, another talented, young new arrival, gets the important business brief.

Rising star Michael Dugher (pictured below left) will attend shadow Cabinet as Cabinet Office spokesman without portfolio along with fellow newcomer Liz Kendall, who becomes shadow minister for care of older people.

In other changes, Hilary Benn takes over at  Communities and Local Government, raising the delicious prospect of regular Commons jousts with Eric Pickles.

Ivan Lewis is moved from Culture Media and Sport to International Development, where he was a junior minister in the last government.

He said he was “delighted” to be returning to that field and added: “My time there was one of my most satisfying in government, helping to change the world.” Mr Lewis is replaced at Culture by deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman.

Five people leave the shadow cabinet, including shadow business secretary John Denham and health spokesman John Healey who stepped down hours before the reshuffle. (See following story)

Those sacked by Mr Miliband include Shaun Woodward, replaced at Northern Ireland by Vernon Coaker and Meg Hillier, who gives way at energy for Caroline Flint. Ann McKechin is dropped as shadow Scottish secretary in favour of Margaret Curran.

Eleven shadow minister held on to the same jobs, including the top three – shadow chancellor Ed Balls, his wife Yvette Cooper at home affairs and Douglas Alexander as Foreign Office spokesman.

Sadiq Khan keeps his job as shadow justice secretary and chief whip Rosie Winterton remains in place, as does Jim Murphy at defence, Maria Eagle at transport and Tessa Jowell on Olympics.

Peter Hain remains shadow Wales secretary, Mary Creagh will continue speaking on the environment and Liam Byrne stays on as shadow work and pensions secretary.

Labour big guns quit as Ed Miliband plans reshuffle


TWO former ministers have quit the shadow cabinet tonight as Ed Miliband prepares to beef up his frontbench team.

John Denham and John Healey stood down from frontline politics just hours before the Labour leader is expected to begin drawing up his new line-up.

OUT: John Denham

Mr Miliband is certain to take advantage of a change in the rulebook he forced through,  ending election of party spokesmen – giving him a free hand to pick who he wants.

But the departure of two big guns is a major blow to his leadership. Mr Insiders insist the departures were “civilised” and both men had indicated some time ago that they wished to stand down.

Mr Denham, 58, said he had decided some time ago not to seek re-election at the next election and it would be wrong to stay on if he had no chance of becoming a minister if Labour were to win.

The shadow business secretary, who served in Gordon Brown’s cabinet, has agreed to stay on as Mr Miliband’s unpaid Private Parliamentary Secretary as a sign of loyalty to his boss.

Shadow health secretary Mr Healey said his decision was made for “family reasons”. But he was said to be furious over the leadership’s decision to allow tobacco firms to take part in a business even at last week’s Labour rally.

And critics had been whispering for some time that Mr Healey had been under-performing and had failed to make political capital out of the coalition’s shambolic NHS reforms.

Fresh blood

Last night there were some nervous-looking faces on Labour front benches as they awaited the call from Mr Miliband.

Shadow education secretary Andy Burnham could be switched to the health brief – as he was secretary of state in that field in the last government.

But Mr Miliband is certain to seize the chance to inject some fresh blood into the party, with rookie Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves tipped for a place on the front benches.

OUT: John Healey

Senior figures such as shadow chancellor Ed Balls and, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper and shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander are expected to stay in place.

New talent tipped for promotion includes Michael Dugher, a former Downing Street aide and now  MP for Barnsley East, Stoke MP Tristram Hunt  and ex-TV reporter Gloria del Piero, the MP for Ashfield.

Suggestions that the former Lord Chancellor Charles Falconer would return to politics as shadow leader of the Lords, opposing Lord Strathclyde, were dismissed.

A Labour spokesman said:  “We do not comment on reshuffle speculation.”

Who would you bring into the shadow cabinet if you were Ed Miliband? 

Follow me on Twitter: @davidwooding