Keir Starmer’s spokesperson has confirmed after an extensive reshuffle of the shadow cabinet this week that there will also be changes made to Labour political advisers, with the party’s financial situation continuing to affect staff.
Asked whether Labour would be slimming down the number of political advisers, the spokesperson said: “There are going to be changes to political advisers. But I’m not going to say any more on that until we’ve spoken to all the members of advisers concerned.”
Staff were sent a message on Monday, at the start of the shadow cabinet reshuffle process, which confirmed the party would offer continued employment to Labour ‘pads’ until the end of February 2022 rather than give immediate notice.
They were told this would “allow for anyone without their current role to find alternative employment” and that this “includes finding another role within the party, which could include working as a PAD in another role or in one of the vacant roles we have in policy”.
Labour general secretary David Evans confirmed earlier this year that the finances of the party have suffered due to lost members and using funds to deal with antisemitism cases. Voluntary severance was widely offered to staff and many took up the offer.
Part of the intention of the latest reshuffle this week was to make the shadow cabinet smaller and specifically cut the number of Shadow Secretaries of State who were not shadowing existing cabinet positions in government.
“With this reshuffle, we are a smaller, more focused shadow cabinet that mirrors the shape of the government we are shadowing,” Starmer said after the full results of the shake-up of his top team were revealed.
There will also be a reshuffle of the wider frontbench, affecting shadow ministers on the junior level. The results are expected in the coming days, after whips have spoken to shadow cabinet members in their new posts.
Amid the wide-ranging reshuffle, a number of subcommittees were also created, Starmer’s spokesperson confirmed. Yvette Cooper will lead one on the “digital future”, Nick Thomas-Symonds one on “make Brexit work” and Lisa Nandy one on “levelling up”.
News of the reshuffle was initially dominated by a row over whether Angela Rayner’s work on ‘cleaning up’ politics had been overshadowed, as Starmer started sacking shadow cabinet members during her speech that morning.
Asked whether there was regret over the handling of the reshuffle, particularly the timing, Starmer’s spokesperson said: “No, I think what you saw was a reshuffle that achieved the objective we had of refreshing the team and ensuring that we are focused on the priorities of the country going into the new year.
“And that was why Keir Starmer wanted to do a reshuffle at this time, so there was a team in place for the new year.”
On whether the shadow cabinet is now more right-wing, he replied: “I think that’s for others to judge. What we have got is a shadow cabinet that is focused on the priorities of the country and on delivering the agenda that Keir Starmer set out in his conference speech. That’s what we’re focused on.”