Starmer’s reshuffle bid to demote Rayner described as ‘despicable act of cowardice’ – politics live | Politics


Good morning. When party leaders are in trouble, they often decide that the solution is a reshuffle. And, in the long run, having different personnel in place can make a difference. But in the short term reshuffles often look as though they are causing more trouble than they are worth and that is certainly the case after Sir Keir Starmer’s night of the long wait.

When the reshuffle was finally announced last night, much later than had been expected, Starmer had achieved one important aim: replacing Anneliese Dodds – who made such little impact as shadow chancellor that last week Dominic Cummings said he was not even aware who she was when he was working in Downing Street – with Rachel Reeves. It has been reported that Starmer wanted Reeves as shadow chancellor when he first became Labour leader, but had to give the job to Dodds instead because he was told Reeves would be unacceptable to the party’s left.

But otherwise the reshuffle’s achievements seem limited. After it was briefed that Angela Rayner, the deputy leader, was going to be sacked from her roles as party chair and national campaign coordinator, she has negotiated what appears like a promotion – she now rejoices in the title of “deputy leader, shadow first secretary of state, shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and shadow secretary of state for the future of work – but with trust between her team and Starmer’s clearly damaged. Other changes have been limited. And the shadow cabinet has swollen to 34 members. Given that 32 of them are MPs, 16% of all Labour MPs are now members of the shadow cabinet.

Here is our overnight story by Jessica Elgot and Heather Stewart.

Here is Heather’s analysis.

This morning Starmer is facing a backlash from the left. On the Today programme Diane Abbott, who was shadow home secretary under Jeremy Corbyn, said the reshuffle suggested Starmer’s team did not know how the party worked. She told the programme:


It does seem as if, certainly the people around him (Sir Keir Starmer), don’t understand how the party works. They tried to sack Angela Rayner in order to make her carry the can for the poor results at the weekend.

They didn’t seem to realise that because she’s an elected deputy leader, you can fiddle around with her title, but you can’t sack her, she remains a senior person in the shadow cabinet.

When asked if it was the view of Rayner that Starmer wanted to sack her, Abbott said:


Yes, that’s what all the briefing was about. It was a foolish thing to even think about and he has had to walk it back – you can’t sack an elected deputy leader.

On Twitter Matt Zarb-Cousin, who worked as a press officer for Jeremy Corbyn, said the appointment of Reeves as shadow chancellor was a mistake.

Matt Zarb-Cousin
(@mattzarb)

Our almost immediate response to losing Hartlepool is to make a Blairite remainer who wanted to stop Brexit the Shadow Chancellor. Wish us luck in Batley we’re gonna need it


May 9, 2021

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor under Corbyn, said the same about the sacking of Nick Brown as chief whip.

John McDonnell MP
(@johnmcdonnellMP)

Sacking Nick Brown, one of the most experienced and tactically astute chief whips the party has ever had, is inept in the extreme. This looks like Mandelson’s revenge.


May 9, 2021

And Andrew Fisher, Corbyn’s head of policy when he was leader, criticised the dismissal of both Brown and Dodds.

Andrew Fisher
(@FisherAndrew79)

Nick Brown served diligently under Blair, Brown and Corbyn. If anyone symbolised unity in the PLP …


May 9, 2021

Andrew Fisher
(@FisherAndrew79)

Said it a month ago …

“It has been reported that Dodds is “struggling to communicate the party’s direction”, which is fair enough since there is no discernible direction. The fault for that lies with the Leader, whose job it is to set it.”https://t.co/LpyL43zcPT


May 9, 2021

I will post more on the reaction to the reshuffle as the day goes on.

Parliament is still in recess, and so there is not a lot in the diary. Here is the agenda.

12.30pm: Downing Street is expected to hold its lobby briefing.

5pm: Boris Johnson is due to hold a press conference where he will confirm the next stage of coronavirus easing will go ahead next Monday.

Politics Live has been a mix of Covid and non-Covid recently. Today I expect to be focusing mostly on non-Covid politics – Labour, the reaction to the elections, Scotland – but I will be covering the coronavirus press conference at No 10 this afternoon. For other coronavirus coverage, do read our global live blog.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.





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