Labor reshuffle is ‘movement towards voters’, says Wes Streeting | Workforce

New Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting said he would bring a “reformist mindset” to the post, and called Keir Starmer’s reshuffle “a move towards voters,” amid fears among the deputies of the left that it marks a turn to the right.

Disgruntled backbench MPs have complained that Starmer’s leadership has become a ‘Trojan horse’ for the Labor right wing, after he marked his authority over the party with Monday’s ruthless upheaval.

“The Blairites came out of the belly of the Trojan horse and slaughtered the weak left,” complained a former frontbencher, referring to the departure of personalities such as Kate Green and Luke Pollard, and the promotion of Streeting, among others.

Starmer has done a drastic overhaul of his squad, which looks a lot like the plans in place before May’s botched reshuffle, which was all but derailed by Angela Rayner – an experience that left him “blue,” according to a colleague.

When asked if the changes represented a movement to the right, Streeting said: “It is a movement towards the voters.”

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s PM show, he stressed the importance of reassuring audiences that “not only are our hearts in the right place, but our heads are in the right place too”.

“Can you trust us with your money?” Can you trust us on law and order? Can you trust us on defense and national security, as well as on the reform of our public services? Streeting added. He said he would bring a “reform mindset” to the health dossier – language that has some left-wing MPs fearful of a move towards greater private sector involvement in health care.

A shadow cabinet minister moved aside on Monday said the global reshuffle was “a hell of a change for the progressive wing of the party.”

Progress – now called Progressive Britain – is the centrist group which, as it puts it on its website, believes Labor needs “fundamental rebuilding”. However, former Labor minister Peter Mandelson told The Guardian that the reshuffle should not be read as a change in the party’s political center of gravity.

“I see the reshuffle as a further re-professionalization of the party and its deployment to the fore more than anything else. I don’t think Keir judges people based on their internal political affiliations – I think he’s much more concerned with their diligence and skills and the impact they have rather than whether they’re Blairites, anti-Blairites, soft left, hard left or whatever, “he said.

Despite the reshuffle that lasted all day Monday, Labor insiders said his execution by Starmer was decisive as MPs had little time to think about the roles on offer. “He wasn’t in the mood for a chat,” an aide said.

Advisers to the Labor leader had watched how Johnson conducted his own reshuffle in September, sacking underachievers and loyal ministers and strengthening his own position.

“Nick Thomas-Symonds is the Robert Buckland of it all,” a Labor source said. “He never did anything wrong on the record that anyone can point to.”

One name that wasn’t in the frame earlier this year was Yvette Cooper, who Starmer recently decided to ask to sit on her front bench. Cooper has been repeatedly linked with a return to the shadow cabinet, but sources said she had not been approached so far.

Relations between Starmer and his deputy, Rayner, which had started to recover over the summer, had been deeply disturbed by his comments about the Tory ‘scum’ at the Labor conference, a source said.

Some MPs fear that the more ambitious figures who now surround Starmer will have an eye on their own leadership prospects.

Clive Efford, chairman of the Soft Left Tribune Labor MP group, said: “There are people Keir has promoted and I will be watching very closely to see that they prove they are team players. “

Starmer stressed the importance of communicating with voters when asked about Tuesday’s reshuffle.

“It’s very important that we’ve made this reshuffle, and I think everyone who’s looking at this reshuffle now is like, ‘This is the right team,'” he said. “It’s a strong team, effective communicators, very good people in their memories, so we can now face the country and persuade the public that we are a government on hold.”

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