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Starmer’s Shadow Cabinet Reshuffle

Felix Hawes

Keir Starmer has unveiled a new front bench team amongst a shadow cabinet reshuffle. 

‘The return of The Ghost of Christmas Past‘ proclaims John McDonnell, as Keir Starmer resurrects many Blairites to former posts in his latest reshuffle.

Yvette Cooper has returned as Shadow Home Secretary after resigning from the Labour frontbench when Corbyn was elected leader, refusing to serve under him. A political heavyweight with name recognition, Starmer may be hoping to remind people of a pre-Corbyn party.

A promotion too for David Lammy, now Foreign Secretary, and another child of the Blair years. Starmer’s three most senior positions are now filled by Blairites, as Rachel Reeves remains Shadow Chancellor. Other moves include Jonathan Ashworth to Work and Pensions, being replaced at Health by Wes Streeting, whilst Bridget Philipson replaces Kate Green at Education. Lisa Nandy, in what is technically a demotion, has moved to shadow Michael Gove in the Department for Levelling Up, offering her expertise as one of the few Northern MPs left in Labour. Nick Thomas-Symonds has had a significant switch to International Trade, and Louise Haigh has been moved away from Northern Ireland after she stated that Labour, a pro-union party, should remain neutral in a Northern Ireland border poll if it were to occur.

Ed Miliband keeps his climate change brief but has lost out his Business and Energy portfolios after reports of a major disagreement between himself and Starmer over Energy nationalisation. The two have swapped positions on the issues, with Miliband opposing energy nationalisation when he was leader of the party, and Starmer supporting it only last year. Miliband has drifted to the left, Starmer to the Right.

This of course has upset many of the Labour backbench and Corbyn faithful, criticising the fact that Starmer has now U-turned on energy nationalisation, abolishing the House of Lords and now supporting the end of Free Movement. Cat Smith, former Shadow Secretary of State for Young People and Democracy, resigned from the cabinet, criticising Starmer for not readmitting Corbyn to the party as well as not supporting proportional representation.

Starmer has certainly moved his shadow cabinet to the right. Gone are the last of the Corbynites, even the soft left have been marginalised into smaller roles, and back are the centrists that won power in three consecutive elections. Tony Blair has said the Labour Party need to ‘emphatically reject wokeism’ and to wage war on socialism and Starmer seems to be engaging in this.

Nationalisation, higher taxes and more welfare are ideas actively opposed by many Blairites, causing a lot of hurt with the party activists. Furthermore, many Blairites are also vigorously pro-European. Yvette Cooper was a leading force for a second referendum, and David Lammy once called the pro-Brexit European Research Group. Thus, it is yet to be seen if Blairites, a wing of the party that galvanised the middle-class vote, will be the answer to win back the red wall of Brexit voters. 

Starmer has once more caused a raucous with his deputy leader, with her claiming that she “had not been consulted on the reshuffle”, although these claims have been denied by sources closes to Starmer. 

Felix Hawes

Featured image courtesy of UK Parliament via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

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