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Labour Shadow Cabinet "Twinned" With Target Areas For Local Elections

Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner campaigning in last May's local elections. (Alamy)

2 min read

Labour’s shadow cabinet have been “twinned” with key areas ahead of this year’s local elections, in the hope that the party's top names will be able to “help mobilise members”.

The pairing scheme will see frontbenchers assigned responsibility for places where it is believed Labour needs to “add value” ahead of the polls on 4 May. 

Thousands of seats across hundreds of councils in England and Northern Ireland will be up for election this Spring, with most of those having not been polled since May 2019, when the Conservatives lost more than 1,000 seats just weeks before Theresa May announced her resignation as prime minister. 

Labour also recorded losses four years ago and lost control of six councils. It is widely believed that this year’s vote will provide the first electoral test for leader Keir Starmer in a lot of these areas.  

PoliticsHome understands that members of Starmer’s top team will now work individually with named target areas. It will mean a senior figure is available to offer top-down support, and it is expected that they will make a number of visits during the campaign period. 

“We expect shadow cabinet to get out and assist, help mobilise members and get people out and working on the ground," a Labour source told PoliticsHome.

“This is all part of our targeting strategy and our focus on where we need to add value.” 

The twinning scheme is one part of the overhaul of party campaigning by national co-ordinator and Birmingham Ladywood MP Shabana Mahmood, who was brought into the role when the party lost the Hartlepool by-election to the Conservative party in 2021. 

It follows on from a similar approach at last year’s local elections, and has now been expanded this year.

The pairings are roughly organised geographically in line with frontbencher constituencies, but also take account for the fact there are no elections in London, Scotland or Wales this time around.  

“It’s very popular and frontbenchers have bought into it readily,” the source added. 

Today Tory backbenchers have headed to Windsor for their own away day, where they are expected to spend 24 hours studying election polling and social media strategies, as well as hearing speeches from Sunak and a “Tory grandee”.

The agenda also includes "1-2-1 fireside chats" with a number of MPs, breakout sessions on data, and how to defeat the Liberal Democrats. In the evening, new party chair Greg Hands will be hosting a pub quiz, before dinner, a guest speaker and after-dinner drinks until "late".

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