Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds demoted to Labour party chair as Sir Keir Starmer reshuffles front bench

Political Correspondent Shehab Khan explains who's up and who's down in the Labour Party

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds has been demoted to Labour Party chair in a reshuffle by Sir Keir Starmer.

The shake up of the Labour frontbench comes amid the fallout over the party’s dismal election performance continues.

Labour lost swathes of councils and councillors at Thursdays elections.

However, the Opposition party gained 11 of 13 mayoral seats and won the Senedd election in Wales.

Sir Keir has come under fire after opting to sack his deputy Angela Rayner from her role as party chair and national campaign co-ordinator on Saturday, with Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham warning him that it was “wrong”.

Ms Dodds will be taking up the position of party chair which Ms Rayner was demoted from.

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds Credit: Jacob King/PA

Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rachel Reeves has been promoted to the position of shadow chancellor.

Ms Rayner will move into Ms Reeves' former post as shadow chancellor to the Duchy of Lancaster.

Chief Whip Nick Brown has been axed and will be replaced by his deputy, Alan Campbell.

Lucy Powell has replaced Thangam Debbonaire as shadow housing secretary, while Ms Debbonaire has replaced Valerie Vaz as shadow leader of the House of Commons.

There had been speculation that Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth and Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy could be moved during the reshuffle but they are remaining in their posts.

As well as undertaking a reshuffle, the former director of public prosecutions has also hired Gordon Brown’s former chief pollster Deborah Mattinson – who has written a book about why Labour lost the so-called “red wall” at the 2019 general election – as director of strategy.

Speaking after the new positions were announced, Sir Keir said: "The Labour Party must be the party that embraces the demand for change across our country.

"That will require bold ideas and a relentless focus on the priorities of the British people.

"Just as the pandemic has changed what is possible and what is necessary, so Labour must change too."

It comes after Labour received a drubbing in some parts of the country, losing control of a host of councils and suffering defeat at the hands of Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in the Hartlepool by-election – the first time the North East constituency has gone blue since its inception in the 1970s.

The sacking of Ms Rayner signals cracks at the top of the party, with rows over who was to blame for the election strategy that saw losses in former industrial areas that have traditionally supported Labour.

The party lost control of Durham council for the first time in a century, saw its leader deposed by the Greens in Sheffield and also witnessed heavy defeats in Rotherham and Sunderland at local authority level.

Although Labour sources on Saturday evening were keen to stress that Ms Rayner – a former social care worker who hails from Stockport in the North West – would “continue to play a senior role” in Sir Keir’s team, prominent figures in the party have spoken out against the decision to remove her as chairman.

Mr Burnham – tipped as a potential successor to Sir Keir after winning a thumping majority to secure a second term as Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester – tweeted: “I can’t support this.

“This is straightforwardly wrong if it’s true.”

Members of former leader Jeremy Corbyn’s team, who come from the left of the party, were among those to criticise the move to “scapegoat” the deputy leader.

Former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott called it “baffling” while John McDonnell labelled it a “huge mistake”.

Mr McDonnell, a former shadow chancellor, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “When the leader of the party on Friday said he takes responsibility for the election result in Hartlepool in particular and then scapegoats Angela Rayner, I think many of us feel that is unfair, particularly as we all know actually that Keir’s style of leadership is that his office controls everything.

“It is very centralised and he controlled the campaign.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said it was his “understanding” that Ms Rayner would “take a different position in the shadow cabinet”.

Mr Sarwar said Labour would have to “collectively pull … together” to put the party back on track for power, adding: “I don’t think you can scapegoat anybody, I don’t think anyone is saying one person is to blame.”

Corbyn ally Ms Abbott used her interview with Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday to call for Sir Keir to return to the “popular” policies in the 2019 manifesto, despite it helping to bring about Labour’s worst general election defeat since 1935.

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