It may have taken some time for Keir Starmer to have settled into his role of Leader of the Opposition, but finally this week he recognised that if you are going to seriously oppose the government then you need serious people in your team to do it.
His shadow cabinet reshuffle rewarded Labour’s best performers – both in terms of their ability at the dispatch box, but, more importantly, their credibility in front of a television camera or a radio mic too.
The move of Lisa Nandy from shadow foreign secretary to the newly named ‘Levelling Up’ brief offers her a role to which she is far more suited as my colleague Jim Hancock explains in his blog this week.
But it is the promotion of Wes Streeting to the Health portfolio, Bridget Phillipson to Education, and the return to the frontbench of Yvette Cooper as shadow Home Secretary that clearly demonstrates Starmer is done with trying to placate the shrinking Corbynista wing of his party, and has now decided that if he is to pull off an unlikely General Election win in 2023 or 2024 he needs to present a team that will impress the electorate, if not all of the ‘selectorate’.
For business, there was also some good news, with Jonathan Reynolds taking over the shadow business job. A serious and bright politician, Reynolds will relish the prospect of highlighting the fact that we have the least business-friendly Conservative government in living memory.
Does this shake-up mean that Labour will form the next government? Probably not. But at least it gives them a chance, and crucially provides Ministers with the headache of being held properly to account in the months ahead.
See Frank Interview Bridget Phillipson
See Frank interview Lisa Nandy
See Frank interview West Streeting