Starmer eyes General Election with Labour reshuffle

4 Sep 2023

After a busier reshuffle than anticipated, DRD’s Jon McLeod looks at what it tells us about next year’s campaign and how Labour will govern if successful.

This was a busier than expected reshuffle by Sir Keir Starmer. And one that will have emboldened the right of his Party.

Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, may have bagged additional roles as Shadow Deputy Prime Minister and Shadow Levelling Up Secretary, forcing a demotion on Lisa Nandy. In doing so, her suite of jobs is an echo of the role played by John Prescott as Tony Blair’s ebullient deputy.

But the return of Liz Kendall to the Shadow Cabinet in the work and pensions brief, and the arrival of fervently pro-Remain Peter Kyle at Science and Technology and a reappearance for Hilary Benn at Northern Ireland make for a pragmatic right-of-centre mix.

An interesting quartet will drive Labour’s campaigning stance. The hugely experienced Pat McFadden as Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, supported by Nick Thomas-Symonds, portfolio-free, and Jonathan Ashworth, opposing the Paymaster General, are both shadowing the Cabinet Office. Ellie Reeves, sister of the Shadow Chancellor, is Deputy to National Campaign Coordinator McFadden. They will have the licence to spot weaknesses in government and to conduct lightening raids in policy areas where Ministers are vulnerable.

Darren Jones, former Chair of the Business Select Committee, is the clear rising star of the shake-up taking the highly influential post of Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the brief that keeps a watch on public spending, a highly sensitive area for Labour and its cohorts.

Starmer opted to stick with a swathe of his more assured performers, many of whom lean on the pragmatic centre-right of the Party: Wes Streeting at Health, Jonathan Reynolds at Business, John Healey at Defence, Emily Thornberry as Shadow Attorney General.