Labour Insist Angela Rayner Hasn't Been Sacked And Will Get A “Significant Promotion” In Reshuffle
Angela Rayner is set to be promoted to the Labour frontbench, according to reports (Alamy)
Senior Labour figures have insisted that Angela Rayner has not been “sacked” from her role as party chair, but is being promoted to a “significant” front bench post.
The deputy Labour leader was removed from her party chair role, as well as from her position as campaign coordinator, on Saturday in response to Labour’s poor returns in the local election.
It is understood there was unhappiness within the party about how she had run the campaign, although other Labour figures have told PoliticsHome she is being made a scapegoat for the party's poor performance overall.
But, speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday morning, Shadow Scotland secretary Ian Murray insisted that Rayner had not been demoted, but was in fact heading for a “significant promotion”.
“Angela Rayner hasn't been sacked, as I understand it. Angela has been offered a significant promotion to take her from the back office of the Labour Party running elections to the front office where she's talking to the country,” he said.
Murray added: “That means she’ll spend more time talking to the country about policy, using the great way that she communicates and using the mandate that she's got there to rebuild the party.
He also corroborated reports that Starmer was planning to do a reshuffle of the Labour front bench “to respond to those election results”.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar also repeated the claim that Rayner was in line to get a “different position in the shadow cabinet” rather than having been sacked from the party and campaign roles.
“The bottom line is that Angela is a huge talent, we're lucky to have her as our deputy leader across the UK,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.
“I know how closely I was pleased to work with her from here in Scotland, and I know she's got a huge future.”
Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell said he wasn’t aware of Rayner’s position, but added that many in the party felt it was “unfair” to blame her for Labour’s electoral performance.
“When the leader of the party on Friday says he takes full responsibility for the election results, in Hartlepool in particular, and then scapegoats and Angela Rayner — I think many of us feel that was unfair.
“Keir [Starmer]'s style of leadership is that his office controls everything centrally, it is very centralised and he controls the campaign. So I think many of us just think it's really unfair."
He added: “What public relations genius just thought this was a good move on the very day actually we were having successes? The very day we're actually recovering a bit and having successes, then they do this, I just think it's a huge mistake.”
Other Labour figures also defended the party’s returns in Thursday’s local elections, with Murray insisting that it was a “patchwork” of results with successes and failures across the country.
“We're doing very badly, but we’re not recognised for the places where we've done quite well,” he said.
“We know this has been a bad few days for the Labour Party, the progress that we want to make isn't good enough.
“But, on the one hand, you can't talk about Hartlepool without talking about Wales. You can't talk about the fact that we're doing badly in Sunderland without talking about the fact that we've won the West of England and we won Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.”
Murray continued: “You have to recognise the patchwork of these results without concentrating on the downsides and the upsides.
“You have to look at this sensibly, analyse what's gone wrong, analyse what's gone well, and respond to that.
“That's what any sensible political party that wants to be a credible alternative government should be doing today.”