Starmer should be looking to Clement Atlee for inspiration, not Tony Blair
With the Government on the rack amidst the austerity-fuelled school building crisis, yesterday’s shadow cabinet reshuffle gave Keir Starmer one final chance to live up to his leadership pledges: to unite the Labour Party and offer the country a transformative programme, one which is more urgent and popular than ever in the Tories’ broken Britain. Sadly, what we got, as commentators have concluded, was yet another shift to the Right.
Nowhere was this clearer than in moves against the soft left, particularly Lisa Nandy, who was demoted for the second time, now to shadow an international development ministry which doesn’t even exist. Preet Gill, in turn, left the shadow cabinet, while Nick Thomas-Symonds faced another demotion, to Shadow Minister without Portfolio. Rosena Allin-Khan left the Shadow Cabinet after Starmer told her he did “not see a space for a mental health portfolio in a Labour Cabinet”, despite having herself sat in the shadow cabinet in such a role
Meanwhile, the scrapping of the dedicated Shadow Development brief means that Starmer’s pledge to re-establish the department abolished by Boris Johnson will be added to his long list of broken promises. Nor will there be a dedicated employment rights role, the first time in nearly half a decade that Labour’s Shadow Cabinet has not contained such a role; big business has a dedicated secretary of state, but workers don’t. The loss of these roles signals danger for progressive politics.
Of course, it goes without saying that there were no promotions for members of the Socialist Campaign Group, who are uniformly excluded from the Shadow Cabinet. How far we are from the days when Starmer promised to build on Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity agenda and ‘end factionalism’.