SHABANA MAHMOOD has been rewarded with the role shadow secretary for justice after her successful campaigns for Labour as party leader Keir Starmer reshuffled his top team on Monday (4).
While it is a promotion for Mahmood who has been Labour’s national campaign coordinator, another MP Lisa Nandy is demoted in the reshuffle exercise.
Having been the shadow secretary for levelling up since 2021, Nandy is now moved to the role of shadow minister for international development.
Rosena Allin-Khan, who was the shadow minister for mental health, will no longer be part of Labour’s top team.
Starmer appointed his deputy Angela Rayner as the party’s levelling up policy chief.
Rayner, a popular MP among the party’s members, will take the higher profile role which will ‘shadow’ the government’s policies, led by veteran Conservative Michael Gove.
She will also ‘shadow’ Oliver Dowden, prime minister Rishi Sunak’s deputy.
“Keir is delighted that Angela has accepted this important role. In addition, she will continue to be the strategic lead on Labour’s new deal for working people,” a Labour source said.
Labour is way ahead in the opinion polls before next year’s expected national election, but the party is cautious in its approach, mindful that it needs to win back its traditional supporters who switched to vote for the Conservatives in 2019.
Former prime minister Boris Johnson won a large majority in 2019 by tapping anger in traditionally Labour-supporting areas in northern and central England, and his “levelling up agenda” became one of his main priorities.
Next year’s election is expected to return the focus to levelling up and how both parties plan to ease social and economic inequalities, particularly between the affluent southeast of England and former industrial areas.
Sunak has been criticised for failing to prioritise the levelling up agenda, with some questioning whether he is too concerned about losing traditional Conservative voters in more affluent parts of southern England.
Pat McFadden, a veteran Labour MP, replaced Mahmood as national campaign coordinator and will shadow the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, a senior role, and Hilary Benn, who served under former prime minister Tony Blair, becomes Northern Ireland policy chief.
Sunak, currently battling criticism for his party’s handling of crumbling school buildings, is also under pressure by some of his lawmakers to change course by offering tax cuts to boost support for the Conservatives.