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by GK Strategy 17th January, 2018
3 min read

Missed the Labour reshuffle? Here are the 3 things you need to know

Following last week’s slightly damp squib of a Government reshuffle, the announcement at 7pm on a Friday night that Jeremy Corbyn was also reshuffling his team was hardly surprising.

While nothing’s changed within the Shadow Cabinet, some interesting appointments have been made in the junior shadow ministerial ranks. Here’s what you need to know:

Labour’s rapprochement

Following the rather public bloodletting of mass shadow cabinet resignations eighteen months ago, Labour’s shadow team has been filled primarily from the smaller cohort of Corbynista supporters within the parliamentary party.

However, this reshuffle sees a number of appointments of former shadow ministers like Roberta Blackman-Wood returning to her previous role as Shadow Planning Minister and Lyn Brown rejoining the shadow team as a Shadow Treasury Minister. This signals the broader mood of much of the parliamentary party; an understanding that Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership is invulnerable for the moment, and that the party’s firepower is best directed at the Government, rather than inward.

While some long-standing Labour MPs are unlikely to ever come around to Corbyn’s vision for the party, we would expect to see more former shadow ministers, particularly those without secure Select Committee berths, rejoining the shadow team in future reshuffles.

New blood

Capitalising on sky-high poll ratings amongst young people, Corbyn’s new team includes 31-year-old Dan Carden and 30-year-old Laura Pidcock, both first elected in June 2017.

They join a raft of other newly-elected MPs quickly taking on shadow cabinet positions, with Preet Gill, Matt Rodda, Karen Lee and Laura Smith all having won their seats in the 2017 election.

Such swift promotion is unusual, but reflects partly Corbyn’s interest in doing politics differently, as well as the smaller pool of MPs to choose from, with parts of the parliamentary party still holding out against the leadership.

Priorities

Shadow Cabinet portfolios, by and large, mirror those of the departments that they shadow, but positions created within the shadow team without an opposite number in Government give an interesting insight into the priorities of the Opposition.

While Ed Miliband was leader, he created the post of Shadow Minister for London, held by Sadiq Khan, to capitalise on the party’s strength in the capital. Corbyn did the same in 2015 by establishing the role of Shadow Mental Health Minister, now held by Barbara Keeley MP, to showcase the importance of mental health alongside physical health and wellbeing.

This reshuffle sees Laura Pidcock appointed as Shadow Minister for Labour, suggesting that the party will be placing an increasing emphasis on labour market issues, including automation, the gig economy and the living wage.

She has led much of Labour’s media comment on the collapse of Carillion this week, an important opportunity for Labour to attack the government on an issue close to the hearts of many members. One could also take a more prosaic view of the title, with rumours swirling that Pidcock may be the left’s candidate for the next Labour leadership contest.

While the Government reshuffle dominated last week’s news, it’s clear that the Opposition reshuffle is also important in understanding the direction of our politics in the coming months.

To find out more about how GK can help your business stay up-to-date with key political developments, contact christine@gkstrategy.com

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