The British union leader reshuffles the team after poor local election results
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: UK Labor Party Leader Keir Starmer leaves his home after the local elections in London, Britain on May 7, 2021. REUTERS / Toby Melville / File Photo
LONDON (Reuters) – UK Labor Party leader Keir Starmer has reshuffled his team after disappointing results in local elections that further increased Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s hold in power.
Labor lost control of a number of local authorities and the parliamentary seat of Hartlepool, a Labor bastion for many decades. It stuck to town halls in London, Manchester and elsewhere, but these successes did not hide its retreat in areas that were once strongholds of the party.
Starmer, who was elected chairman last year, struggled to bridge the gap and unite Labor around a clear agenda to challenge the ruling Conservatives driven by a successful COVID-19 vaccination program and plowing funds into areas in many voters felt neglected, received a boost.
After many voters suggested in the local elections not to know what Starmer stands for, Shabana Mahmood, who was appointed Labor campaign coordinator in the reshuffle, said the party would initiate a policy review to agree a program.
“There has to be a policy review process that we will now jointly launch as a movement to see what programming we have to offer the country,” she told BBC Radio.
“It has to be a platform that appeals to the public.”
Key changes in the reshuffle included the appointment of Rachel Reeves as Head of Economic Policy, replacing Anneliese Dodds, who became Party Chair and Head of Policy Review.
Angela Rayner, who was sacked as party leader and campaign coordinator on Saturday, has been named Labor political leader for “the future of work”.
She also received the title of “Shadow First Secretary of State,” the equivalent of Deputy Prime Minister in Starmer’s “Shadow Cabinet” or opposition leadership team.
“The Labor Party must be the party that takes up the call for change in our country,” Starmer said in a statement.
“I look forward to working with our refreshed and refreshed team to take on this challenge, make this change, and develop the ambitious program that the next Labor government will produce.”
The reshuffle got off to a bad start after several party figures openly criticized Rayner’s removal as party chairman. She comes from the working class in northern England – the very demographic work that has lost and must regain.
Starmer is likely trying to reassure critics by giving Rayner a prominent role in the shadow cabinet.
Starmer and Rayner were elected party chairman and vice chairman last year after Labor suffered a crushing defeat in a December 2019 general election led by hard-left veteran Jeremy Corbyn.
While opinion polls suggest that Starmer is more credible than Corbyn in the eyes of many voters, the results of the local elections showed that the party was still a long way from regaining power in a 2024 election.
After a 13-year tenure under former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Labor has lost four straight general elections since 2010.
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