Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. UK Politics
6 April 2020

What the casualties of Keir Starmer’s first reshuffle have in common

It is anything but a purge of Corbynites.

By Patrick Maguire

What do the highest profile casualties of Keir Starmer’s first reshuffle have in common? The answer isn’t that they are Corbynites, as has been widely written. Ian Lavery, Richard Burgon and Jon Trickett really have only one thing in common with Barry Gardiner: all four were loyal to Jeremy Corbyn where others were not. They are not of a one ideologically. Even if they were, it would not be the golden thread that links their sackings.

Why? Because Starmer has not set out to purge his shadow cabinet of the Corbynite left. In any case, Gardiner, while a dependable servant of the last leadership, is not of it. His sacking has much more to do with his habit of undermining Starmer on Brexit, both in public and in private. Lavery, Burgon and Trickett do have something in common, however, and they share it with Dan Carden. All four are closely linked to Unite.

That link matters because of the influence the union wielded internally over the last leadership, not only via Len McCluskey but through his allies in Jennie Formby, Labour’s general secretary, and Karie Murphy, Corbyn’s longtime chief of staff. Starmer sold himself as the candidate of ideological continuity but institutional change. He is kicking off that process by clearing out shadow ministers whose allegiance is to those who sustained Corbyn’s institutional hegemony.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

Content from our partners
The cost-of-living crisis is hitting small businesses – Liz Truss must act
How industry is key for net zero
How to ensure net zero brings good growth and green jobs