Everyone Keir Starmer has sacked or forced to resign for being too left wing
For a man who built his leadership campaign around party unity and ending factionalism, Keir Starmer has done a remarkable job at sacking anyone vaguely left wing at the first opportunity. Since Starmer’s ascent to the top of the Labour Party, more than a dozen left wing frontbenchers have been sacked or forced to resign for taking positions to the left of the leadership, or have been booted out for seemingly minor infractions.
Here’s the full list of everyone that has been forced out of Starmer’s frontbench for being too left wing.
1. Kim Johnson
Kim Johnson was appointed as a parliamentary private secretary (PPS) to Angela Rayner in April 2020. Six months later, she resigned from her post. She did so as part of a major rebellion on the Labour benches over the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill – legislation which would allow undercover police and law enforcement officers to break the law and be exempt from prosecution. Labour was whipping its MPs to abstain on the Bill, whereas Johnson – among a number of other names on this list – resigned from the frontbench in order to vote against it.
Johnson is a member of the left wing Socialist Campaign Group of MPs.
2. Navendu Mishra
Navendu Mishra was – like Kim Johnson – among those who resigned from the front bench to voted against the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill. He was previously also a PPS to Angela Rayner.
Again, like Johnson, Mishra is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group.
3. Cat Smith
Cat Smith served as shadow minister for young people and democracy under both Jeremy Corbyn and Starmer. Smith held the post from June 2016 until November 2021. She resigned in the middle of a shadow cabinet reshuffle being conducted by Starmer, despite her claim that she was offered the opportunity to stay in post.
In her resignation letter, Smith criticised the Labour Party under Starmer’s leadership for failing to adopt a policy in support of proportional representation. She also described the decision to not allow Cobyn to sit as a Labour MP despite him being a member of the party “utterly unsustainable”.
Smith was previously a member of the Socialist Campaign Group – although appears now to have left.
4. Beth Winter
Beth Winter was PPS to Rachel Reeves from April 2020-September 2020. She resigned in order to vote against the Overseas Operations Bill – legislation which introduced a statutory presumption against prosecution for British soldiers for events which took place five or more years ago. Critics have pointed out that this effectively decriminalises torture. The Labour leadership once again whipped its MPs to abstain on the Bill. Three frontbenchers were forced to resign in order to vote with their conscience.
Winter is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group.
5. Olivia Blake
Also among those resigning over the Overseas Operations Bill was Olivia Blake. She had previously served as PPS to Jo Stevens and Ian Murray in Starmer’s first frontbench.
Blake would be reappointed to the shadow frontbench, serving as shadow minister for nature, water and flooding and later as shadow minister for climate change. She would eventually resign from the latter role, citing personal reasons.
Blake is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group.
6. Sam Tarry
The most recent sacking is also among the most absurd. Sam Tarry had served as shadow minister for buses and local transport from January 2021. With ASLEF members on strike over pay, Tarry was among the many Labour MPs to join a picket line.
Following this, Tarry was sacked from his frontbench position, with the Starmer claiming the decision was down to him having “made up policy on the hoof”, rather than because he joined the striking workers on the picket line. This was despite Starmer having previously instructed his frontbenchers to refrain from joining picket lines.
Tarry is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group.
7. Andy McDonald
Andy McDonald was a familiar face during the Corbyn era. He served as shadow transport secretary, and would give regular and reliable media performances in defence of the then leadership. Following Starmer’s election, McDonald was appointed as shadow employment rights and protections secretary.
In the middle of Labour’s 2021 conference, McDonald would resign from that post due to the failure of the Labour Party to back a £15 an hour minimum wage. He claimed he had been instructed with arguing against the policy at the conference.
McDonald is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group.
8. Mary Foy
Mary Foy served as PPS to Andy McDonald between April and October 2020. She resigned as one of the frontbenchers who rebelled on the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill.
Foy is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group.
9. Dan Carden
Dan Carden served as shadow international development secretary under Corbyn. He was kept on the frontbench when Starmer took over in April 2020 – becoming shadow financial secretary to the treasury. By October he was gone, resigning to vote against the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill.
Carden is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group.
10. Rebecca Long-Bailey
Left wing runner up in the 2020 Labour leadership election Rebecca Long-Bailey was appointed shadow secretary of state for education by Starmer in April of that year. Within three months, Starmer had sacked her.
Long-Bailey tweeted a link to an interview with the actor Maxine Peake, describing her as an “absolute diamond”. She later tweeted to clarify that she didn’t endorse everything in the interview. It is assumed that Long-Bailey was referring to the untrue claim made by Peake that seminars with Israeli secret services had taught US police officers the practice of kneeling on arrestees necks. Despite the clarification, Starmer sacked her later the same day.
Long-Bailey is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group.
11. Margaret Greenwood
Margaret Greenwood was appointed as shadow minister for schools by Starmer in April 2020. She would go on to resign from her post in October 2020 in order to vote against the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill.
12. Nadia Whittome
Elected in 2019 at the age of 23, Nadia Whittome is the youngest MP in the House of Commons. She was appointed PPS to Jon Ashworth by Starmer in April 2020. In September that year, she resigned from the position in order to vote against the Overseas Operations Bill.
Whittome is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group.
13. Sarah Owen
Sarah Owen was PPS to Lisa Nandy from April 2020-October 2020. She resigned in order to vote against the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill.
Six months later, Owen was re-appointed to the opposition frontbench, first as PPS to Rachel Reeves, and later as shadow minister for homelessness, rough sleeping and faith.
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Image credit: Rwendland – Creative Commons