Cull of the Blairites? Miliband takes down the old guard

A major Labour reshuffle has seen leading Blairites cleared from front bench positions, as Ed Miliband cements his control over the party.

Jim Murphy was demoted from shadow defence secretary to shadow international development secretary.

Murphy repeatedly briefed against Miliband to journalists and voiced his discomfort with the vote against military action in Syria.

He was replaced by Vernon Coaker, in a hefty promotion from the Northern Ireland brief.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne was also dropped.

Byrne made an impassioned defence of his position to the party's rank-and-file during the Labour conference last month but he has repeatedly breached the bounds set for him by the leadership on welfare.

As one of the most right-wing figures in the Labour front bench team, Byrne was keen to urge Iain Duncan Smith to go further on welfare reform.

He was allowed a certain amount of leeway by the leadership but was seen as having gone over the line, making it hard for Miliband to sell his position to the party faithful.

Byrnes is likely to be replaced by shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Rachel Reeves. He in turn becomes higher education spokesman.

Stephen Twigg, another leading Blairite, had failed to construct a consistent Labour position on free schools and is being moved from the shadow education position, to be replaced by Tristram Hunt.

The appointment of Hunt – a telegenic and well regarded historian – makes the idea of a Blairite purge more questionable. Hunt is a Blairite, but he has been effusive in his praise for the current Labour leader.

He is also very comfortable with the concept of free schools and is likely to back Michael Gove's policy.

Andy Burnham, another Blairite, managed to keep his health brief.

Burnham had seemed sure to go after he publicly dared Miliband to back his plans for incorporating social care in the NHS. Some will interpret his ability to keep his position as a sign that Miliband was not strong enough to remove him.

Michael Dugher will replace Jon Trickett in the shadow Cabinet Office brief. Trickett becomes deputy chair of the party.

Maria Eagle has been replaced in the transport brief with Mary Creagh, in a move which could signal a Labour U-turn on HS2.

Gloria De Piero was promoted to become shadow minister for women and equalities.

The Conservatives branded the Labour reshuffle a capitulation to the trade unions, given that Unite general secretary Len McCluskey has gone on record saying Muyrphy and Byrne should be sacked.

"Len McCluskey is the real winner of this reshuffle. Ed Miliband’s purged the moderates and promoted those who want the same old Labour policy of more spending, more borrowing and more debt," Conservative chairman Grant Shapps said.

However McClusky also attacked Douglas Alexander, who has been put in charge of Labour's general election campaign, adding a further wrinkle to the political implications of the reshuffle.

Alexander will be backed by Spencer Livermore as general election campaign director. He previously worked for Gordon Brown as director of strategy.

He will also be working alongside Michael Dugher, who will have lead responsibility for communications and day to day campaigning.

The two men come from opposing sides of the party, raising the prospect of Labour having a contradictory message during the general election campaign.

The move may not necessarily entail a move to the left as much as it shows Miliband consolidating his position after a successful conference season.

Many of the figures Miliband is clearing out worked above or alongside him during New Labour.

Fresher alternatives are likely to have more loyalty to the Labour leader.

Thirty one per cent of the shadow Cabinet is now from the 2010 intake, while 44% are women.

Full list of appointments

Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party

Ed Miliband MP

Shadow Deputy Prime Minister, Party Chair and Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Harriet Harman MP

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
Ed Balls MP

Shadow Foreign Secretary and Chair of General Election Strategy
Douglas Alexander MP

Shadow Home Secretary
Yvette Cooper MP

Shadow Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Justice and Shadow Minister for London
Sadiq Khan MP

Opposition Chief Whip
Rosie Winterton MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Health
Andy Burnham MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
Chuka Umunna MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Rachel Reeves MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Education
Tristram Hunt MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
Vernon Coaker MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Hilary Benn MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
Caroline Flint MP

Shadow Leader of the House of Commons and Chair of the National Policy Forum
Angela Eagle MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
Mary Creagh MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Ivan Lewis MP

Shadow Secretary of State for International Development
Jim Murphy MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland
Margaret Curran MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Wales
Owen Smith MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Maria Eagle MP

Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office
Michael Dugher MP

Shadow Minister without Portfolio and Deputy Party Chair
Jon Trickett MP

Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities
Gloria De Piero MP

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Chris Leslie MP

Shadow Leader of the House of Lords
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon

Lords Chief Whip
Lord Bassam of Brighton

Also attending Shadow Cabinet:

Shadow Minister for Care and Older People
Liz Kendall MP

Shadow Minister for Housing
Emma Reynolds

Shadow Attorney General
Emily Thornberry MP

Shadow Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
Lord Wood of Anfield

Coordinator of the Labour Party Policy Review
Jon Cruddas MP

In addition:

Liam Byrne MP has been appointed Shadow Minister for Higher Education

Stephen Twigg MP has been appointed Shadow Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform

Karen Buck MP and Wayne David MP will be PPS to the Leader of the Labour Party.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton will advise on Planning and Transition into Government

Spencer Livermore has been appointed the General Election Campaign Director.