04
April 2020

Written by:

David Button

Senior Account Director

Labour’s new front-bench team full of talent

Having been elected as Leader of the Labour Party on Saturday morning, Keir Starmer has wasted no time in naming his entire Shadow Cabinet team on Monday.  His team know that given his overwhelming victory among the Labour movement’s membership, he is currently at his most powerful and he has made the most of that.

Rebecca Long-Bailey is the only Corbynite to retain a senior job as we have seen a sizeable cull of those on the left of the Party.  Promotions are given to shadow the great offices of state for Anneliese Dodds as Shadow Chancellor, Nick Thomas-Symonds as Shadow Home Secretary and Lisa Nandy as Shadow Foreign Secretary.

For BECG we are interested in the main roles that affect our clients and what that could mean to the levels of scrutiny over relevant Government policy.

The first of these roles is the welcome appointment of Steve Reed as Shadow Secretary of State for MHCLG. Steve is a former leader of Lambeth Council who has a long-term interest in housing policy. Steve will be a formidable opponent to Robert Jenrick and will have a good knowledge of the detail of the role. Steve was an early supporter of Keir Starmer’s campaign and is a leader of the Labour Together group, an organisation run by the Keir’s new chief of staff, Morgan McSweeney. BECG’s Account Director Chris Ricot also worked as a Senior Advisor to Steve in the latter’s former role as the Leader of LB Lambeth.

Steve’s team will include Thangam Debbonaire as Shadow Housing Minister.  The Bristol MP was also an early member of Keir’s campaign team and a moderate member of Labour’s “soft-left”.  The fact that she will also attend cabinet is an early sign of how important Keir sees housing issues.

Jim McMahon has been appointed as Shadow Transport Secretary.  He is the former leader of Oldham Council and was also an early supporter of Keir’s leadership campaign. Expect Jim to focus on transport issues in the North of England and put particular pressure on east-west rail routes across the Pennines and improving the service of Northern Rail.

The above appointments demonstrate the arrival of some experienced former local government leaders in key posts.  But the appointment that is attracting the most media attention is the return to the Labour front bench of former leader Ed Miliband.  He returns as Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, covering the brief he held in government until 2010.  Ed will be under internal pressure to continue with Labour’s green industrial revolution, a key part of Ed’s predecessor and leadership contender Rebecca Long-Bailey.  Ed will certainly want to use this role to keep the battle against climate change at the top of the political agenda when we reappear from the COVID-19 epidemic.

The Labour Party may be unlikely to get back into power any time soon, but these appointments are a welcome change from the past five years where much of the talent in the Parliamentary Labour Party was wasted on the backbenches.

These new Shadow Cabinet members are much better equipped to hold the Government to account, a role that is vital for good governance and should be welcomed by all.