Deputy leader Angela Rayner has been sacked as Labour Party chair and national campaign coordinator in a bold move by Keir Starmer in response to poor local election results across England.
Reacting to the news, a number of LabourList sources have pointed out that the party’s left and soft left are now likely to rally around Rayner. Allies of the deputy leader say she has been “silenced” over the past year.
As reported on Friday, LabourList understands that Rayner wanted Labour’s message in the May 2021 election campaign to be a real living wage for care workers but this idea was not adopted.
Reacting to the news, a frontbench Labour MP told LabourList: “Wrong response. Seems like a kneejerk reaction, which is the last thing we need.
“If less working-class northern women in shaping strategy is the response to losing the votes of northern working class women, then the wrong lessons are being taken.”
A member of Labour’s national executive committee (NEC), the ruling body, said: “Well looks like LOTO [the leader of the opposition’s office] may be dicing with their NEC majority then”.
Another member of the ruling body told LabourList in response to the decision on Rayner: “Keir will have to attend NEC meetings in person if he wants to win votes”.
Momentum co-chair Gaya Sriskanthan said: “Angela Rayner’s sacking is blatant scapegoating. Channel 4’s polling shows that the main reason for the catastrophic defeat in Hartlepool is Keir’s leadership.
“It is his failed strategy that has brought us to this point, and he said he would take responsibility. Yet again he has gone back on his word.”
Update, 7.35pm: It is understood that Rayner will be offered another role. A Labour source said: “Keir said he was taking full responsibility for the result of the elections – and he said we need to change.
“That means change how we run our campaigns in the future. Angela will continue to play a senior role in Keir’s team.”
John McDonnell tweeted: “Keir Starmer said yesterday that he took full responsibility for the election result in Hartlepool [and] other losses. Instead today he’s scapegoating everyone apart from himself. This isn’t leadership it’s a cowardly avoidance of responsibility.”
Clive Lewis, another Labour MP considered to be on the left of the party, simply tweeted: “Mess.” Paula Barker MP said: “It goes from bad to worse”.
Jack McKenna, Rayner’s head of communications, tweeted: “Some pretty good election results for Labour today, if you’re interested.”
Labour is reportedly planning to move its headquarters out of London and Deborah Mattinson has been appointed head of strategy. Starmer is also expected to launch a policy review and conduct a broader shadow cabinet reshuffle.