After awarding nearly all shadow cabinet level jobs to MPs from the middle of Labour, Keir Starmer has used the rest of his shadow ministerial appointments to boost those considered to be on the right of the party.
When assessing Labour’s new shadow cabinet, I described it as “a purge of the most vocal in the parliamentary party, in favour of the quietly competent”, pointing out that the new members were neither the figureheads of factions nor vocally Corbynsceptic media favourites.
Those described above who were overlooked in the last set of appointments – Wes Streeting, Jess Phillips, Alison McGovern, Conor McGinn, Liz Kendall – have now been handed frontbench roles. The vast majority of the opposition frontbench now comes from the right or middle of the party, with Corbynites barely getting a look in.
The only Corbynites on this list of 97 MPs – apart from shadow cabinet members – are Margaret Greenwood (who’ll be working with Rebecca Long-Bailey), Imran Hussain (with Andy McDonald) and Dan Carden (who has been put in an amusingly diverse Treasury team along with Streeting), plus Rachael Maskell and Lloyd Russell-Moyle if you’re not using a strict definition of Corbynite. Bell Ribeiro-Addy, who had just become shadow immigration minister, is a notable omission.
While Starmer stuck to safe territory for his headline appointments earlier in the week, here he has strayed from his party unity message. This is a clear indication that the future direction of the party may not be as Corbynite-friendly as the shadow cabinet might suggest. The MPs in this new batch are the ones who will eventually rise up the ranks and secure the most senior jobs.