Exclusive: Keir Starmer Warns His Shadow Cabinet To Up Their Game

The Labour leader is eager to avoid complacency as his party maintains its commanding lead in the polls.
Labour leader Keir Starmer
Labour leader Keir Starmer
Stefan Rousseau via PA Wire/PA Images

Keir Starmer has told his frontbenchers and their teams to up their game as the party prepares for a crucial 12 months.

Shadow cabinet members are being urged to increase the number of parliamentary questions they submit to hold the government to account.

The number of ideas each shadow minister comes up with for Labour’s media grid - which lists stories issued to journalists on specific topics - is also being monitored to see who is pulling their weight.

Starmer also wants his shadow cabinet teams to come up with suggestions for the party’s national policy forum in July, where Labour’s manifesto for the next election will take shape.

The crackdown by the leader of the opposition’s office (Loto) comes as Labour maintains its commanding lead over the Conservatives in the opinion polls.

A survey of public opinion by Sevanta earlier this month suggested Starmer is on course for 10 Downing Street with an astonishing 314-seat majority

Nevertheless, the Labour leader is eager for his frontbench team not to take their foot off the gas with the next election still two years away.

2023 is seen as a crucial year, with council elections in England in May, as well as the ongoing political battles over the UK’s economic future.

One senior Labour source told HuffPost UK: “Like any zombie, this government may look like it’s on its way out, but they’ll keep going until they are eviscerated.

“We cannot take our eyes off them for a second. Our mantra has been ‘no complacency’ and that is even more important next year.”

Analysis by HuffPost UK shows that shadow defence secretary John Healey has tabled the most parliamentary questions of any Labour frontbencher this year with 1,317.

He is followed by shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry on 993, shadow rail minister Tan Dhesi on 784 and shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson on 510.

At the other end of the spectrum, climate change secretary Ed Miliband submitted none, while shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens has only tabled seven.

It is understood that Starmer’s team were also impressed by shadow health secretary’ Wes Streeting’s recent ‘health week’, which sought to highlight the government’s failures on the NHS.

“That won plaudits from Loto for its content and the initiative Wes and his team demonstrated in proposing it,” said one Labour insider.

“That is precisely the type of thing we need to be doing to keep the Tories on their toes.”


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