Starmer has now appointed his final shadow cabinet that will take him through to next year’s election – and if current polls are sustained – into Government.

Keir hasn’t held back on putting his stamp on things.  His reshuffle clearly signals a General Election is in sight, promoting trusted advisers, good communicators and those with experience in Government. This is the team that Starmer will present to the country as a Government-in-waiting 


What does it tell us about his approach to Devolution?

As anticipated, former Deputy Leader Angela Rayner was moved up to the shadow Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Department, with post holder Lisa Nandy being shuffled to the International Development brief.

Having such a senior – and vocal – figure take on the regional rebalancing puzzle implies that Keir intends to keep his promise of taking devolution seriously. He pledged a Labour victory would launch the Take Back Control Bill, pushing to devolve power away from Westminster towards local communities as part of his plan to “end the Tories’ sticking-plaster politics”. 

The influence of Gordon Brown’s ‘A New Britain’ is clear, laying the foundations for Labour’s Five Missions, calling for a “massive” increase to the UK’s growth rate, an overhaul of healthcare services, and an education system that can equip our young people for a “radically changing world of work” – with decentralisation being the key to reducing regional inequalities across these core sectors.

At the launch of ‘A New Britain’, Starmer declared that “in order to build a future the country deserves, Britain needs change involving ‘higher standards in public life, a wider spread of power and opportunity, and better economic growth – no more navel-gazing or facing inwards – higher, winder, better. That is how Britain must set its sights.” 


Levelling Up and Devolution

Angela Rayner has real lived experience, brought up in social housing in a low-income family, she was pregnant at 16, and left school early with few prospects, before building her political career through the trade union movement. 

There’s no doubt that her life experience will fuel her fire to “get things done” when it comes to the DLUHC brief. An outspoken advocate for regional rebalancing and a staunch critic of the Tories’ approach to ‘Levelling Up’ (or “levelling down”, in her own words), Rayner has promised, “We’ll bring good jobs back to places that have lost them, and get money back in people’s pockets – Labour will give our young people a fair start in life, by making sure every young person has access to education, training, or work.”  

Rayner’s appointment also serves to placate the further left of the party, given the centre-left lean of the current Shadow Cabinet. One senior Labour MP called for Keir to “give her a proper job to get her teeth into” – and he has certainly delivered that with the DLUHC brief. 

If they do form a Government, Rayner’s leadership is going to set the stage for the delivery of Labour’s key policy objectives and the success of the Five Missions.

The relationship between Keir Stamer and Angela Rayner has often been compared to that of Tony Blair and John Prescott. If she becomes the passionate supporter of Devolution that the latter was is yet to be seen.

As the big party conference speeches begin to take shape, the future of devolution under a Labour Government will too.