Ed Miliband's long-expected reshuffle appears to have been further delayed amid rumours he has again backed away from removing Ed Balls from his job as shadow chancellor.

The shake-up of Labour's top team was expected in the summer, then it was rumoured to have been postponed until conference season, now it seems to have retreated further and will, in any case, be a low-level affair.

Reports on the well-informed Labour Uncut website suggested Miliband was finally ready to bite the bullet and remove Balls from his job, with the tantalising suggestion he would do a "job swap" with his wife, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper.

That, along with the loyalty encouraged by a looming general election, would have limited the chance of Balls causing trouble for his successor or the leadership more generally, it was claimed.

Ed Balls
Ed Balls is a reminder of the past

Balls would have been furious and was ready to put up a fight, but was allegedly bracing himself for the possibility he would be moved.

The boost for Miliband's image as tough and ready to take a new approach to the economy would, it was said, have been worth the risk.

And, as a senior Labour figure previously told IBTimes UK: "What is he [Balls] going to do if he is moved? He doesn't have the power to cause trouble, even if he wanted to."

The tensions between Miliband and Balls have been well known for years, and were underlined by the fact the Labour leader's first choice for the job of shadow chancellor was Alan Johnson.

Rumours of deep splits and rows have been overblown but there have always been a couple of very strong reasons for removing Balls.

The first is that, despite his obvious abilities in the job, he is a constant reminder of the previous Labour government, which the Tories have managed to land with the label "wreckers of the economy".

The fact that the party leadership chose not to robustly counter that attack from day one is an old and now irrelevant argument, because the label has stuck.

The Tory slogan about not handing the car keys back to the man who crashed it in the first place has proved highly effective.

So removing Balls, no matter how unjust it may seem, would give Labour the chance of a fresh approach.

The second reason is Balls is seen by many in the party and the union movement as a block to radical policies because of his insistence on his own version of austerity and refusal to countenance any spending commitments.

In any case, time for a major reshuffle is running out. It would be hard for Miliband to stage one next year as it would look like pre-election panic, so the door will remain open until Christmas at the latest.

But all the signs from Labour now are that if and when the shake-up comes, it will be more limited with promotions for women expected, with the names of Gloria de Piero, Liz Kendall, Luciana Berger and Lucy Powell all doing the rounds.

Balls, it now seems, will remain shadow chancellor right through to election day.