Keir Starmer tries to lead the UK

Following on from Elendil_s_Heir’s post on Starmer’s cabinet appointments in the UK General Election thread, perhaps we should start a new thread on the new government (administration, for our US readers).

No surprises in the first announcements of cabinet appointments - basically, people get the front-bench jobs they’ve been shadowing, except where they’ve had to cover an unexpected loss (Culture, and Business).

Interestingly, there are two early announcements of outside appointments as junior minister:

  • one for prisons (given the immediate capacity crisis, not surprising), the businessman best known for offering jobs to ex-offenders and a longterm interest in prison reform
  • one for science and technology, the Chief Scientific Adviser during the pandemic.

Given that everything else about Yes, (Prime) Minister has proven accurate (most recently Sunak’s national service plan being hated by military brass), the civil service must be fuming about people with interest and competence in their ministries!

Given Rory Stewart’s frustrations as prisons minister (I was given his memoir for Christmas, so I sort of had to read it, and he goes into that period in some detail), I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

Is a Secretary of State for Levelling Up kind of an opposite to a Secretary of State for Trickling Down?

Sort of. But when Boris Johnson originated the notion, and judging by the funding actually disbursed for it, it might as well have been the same thing.

To be clear, an “outside appointment” means an appointment from outside the membership of Parliament?

A good sign, at any rate, that he’s giving jobs to people who seem to be well-qualified for them, rather than just patronage.

Yes. But they won’t be outside Parliament for long; they’ll be given life peerages, and a seat in the House of Lords so that they can attend, and be answerable to, Parliament.

According to wikipedia, the new Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Shabana Mahmood, is opposed to teaching GLB issues in schools, and also believes that biological sex is immutable.

Mahmood was criticised by activists within her own party in March 2019 over comments she made regarding the teaching of LGBTQ+ content within schools.[46]

In a 2024 interview, with Genevieve Holl-Allen at The Daily Telegraph, Mahmood said that she was concerned with the treatment of gender critical activists, saying that “many women have had to go to court, usually in employment tribunals, in order to clarify … their right to say that biological sex is real and is immutable – a position that I also agree with” and that women “shouldn’t be in the position of losing their jobs” for espousing those views.[47][48]

Is it that difficult for someone in the UK to make it clear when a view is personally held and is not being characterized as being the position of His Majesty’s government?

Where do you think the policies of HM Government come from?

The Lord Chancellor is one of the four great officers of state. She will be sitting at the Cabinet table and giving her opinions on justice issues that come before the Cabinet. She will presumably base her opinions on her beliefs and values.

Once Cabinet reaches a policy position , she will support it. But she will be one of the key players in forming that policy position.

Starmer just better hope he has a good Principal Private Secretary. It’s my job to see that the chips stay up!

Whoops, it’s Chancellor of the Exchequer who is great officer, not Lord Chancellor. My mistake. Apologies.

But the basic point stands: Lord Chancellor and Secretary for Justice is a very influential position.

Starmer has appointed Rachel Reeves as Chancellor of the Exchequer, the first woman in the more than 7 centuries that the office has been in existence.

The last Labour govt tried to abolish the Lord Chancellor, but found it too complicated. They ended up combining the post (which used to be the Head of the Judiciary and carried a seat on the Woolsack in the Lords, and sometimes was judging cases too) with Justice (itself a new ministry). Previously the Lord Chancellor was invariably a lawyer and usually a prominent one.

Re Keir Starmer trying to lead the UK: He must realize that Brexit is an economic failure. Can his government do anything about that?

I remember reading something that the EU said that if Britain ever decided to undo Brexit, there’s no way they’d be allowed to maintain their own currency as they did prior to Brexit.

They threw away a lot of special concessions that the EU gave them, going back to the statu quo ante is practically impossible.

They could rejoin the single market or the customs union without rejoining the EU proper. This would be strictly worse than being in the EU, because they would have to obey the rules without being part of the decision-making process that sets the rules, but it would help with the Irish border issues.

Allegedly KS has ruled this out, though. Keir Starmer rules out UK rejoining EU single market in his lifetime

A BBC profile: Who is new prime minister, Sir Keir Starmer? - BBC Newsround

Call for a revote on joining the EU.