Reshuffle reacts to Northern Powerhouse momentum
Much journalistic comment has been made regarding the lengthy, yet confusingly also possibly curtailed, Labour reshuffle. Certainly there is an element of Jeremy Corbyn seeking to replace those he saw as critics with those more ideologically in agreement with himself and what he perceives to be the views of the Labour movement at large.
The decision to leave Hilary Benn in place probably avoids the reshuffle gaining much attention beyond the Westminster bubble. However, those who have lost their jobs in Labour's Shadow team were seen by some backbenchers as key people to moderate the tone of a Corbyn-led Labour Party and it has only worsened the divide between the Leader and some of the most capable members of his party who are currently in self-imposed exile on the backbenches.
If the decisions themselves didn't generate much news, the protracted process did receive plenty of comment and no shortage of comical references. Buzzfeed even set up a quiz to assess whether you could make it through the reshuffle as a lobby journalist.
However, among the changes, there is a siginificant development for the planning industry. Emma Lewell-Buck MP was promoted to a new role within the Shadow Communities and Local Government (CLG) team with a specific portfolio related to devolution. This appointment is likely a response to the growing profile of the Government's devolution programme. Since the Chancellor kicked down on the accelerator of his Northern Powerhouse project, the principle of devolutuion across cities and counties in England has gained rapid momentum.
While not to disregard the Labour response in the South and Midlands, it is the Northern Powerhouse which presents the biggest challenge from a Conservative Government in a Labour heartland. The emerging empowerment of Northern cities has often been embraced as an opportunity by local Labour politicians, but it presents a challenge as regards national policy. Certainly, Labour MPs have been critical of the detail, or lack there of, but they stop short of challenging the principle. It will be an important task for the Labour CLG team to find a constructive alternative to Osborne's vision.