Who will be the key figures in Keir Starmer’s government?


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It has been 19 years since Labour won a general election in the UK and 14 years since the party was in Downing Street.

With Sir Keir Starmer at the helm, the new government will be mostly staffed and shaped by people who did not work under the “New Labour” administrations of Sir Tony Blair and Gordon Brown between 1997 and 2010.

Here are some of the politicians, advisers, union leaders, business figures and policy experts who are set to hold key positions or wield influence.

Cabinet

Rachel Reeves

Reeves as chancellor forms a duo with Starmer overseeing the Labour party. The former Bank of England economist was first elected to parliament in 2010 and served in Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet. She later served as chair of the Commons business select committee before being promoted by Starmer.

Pat McFadden

The softly spoken Scotsman, who worked in Downing Street under Blair, is part of the powerful “quad” along with Starmer, Reeves and Angela Rayner. McFadden was “national campaign co-ordinator” during the election and is chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Angela Rayner

Rayner was directly elected by Labour members as deputy leader. She is deputy prime minister, and will run the current Department for Housing, Levelling Up and Communities, which is likely to be renamed “housing and communities”. 

David Lammy

The foreign secretary has been MP for Tottenham for 24 years. He served in junior ministerial roles in the Blair and Brown governments, and has networked in Europe and Washington since joining Starmer’s top team.

Yvette Cooper 

Cooper, who ran for the party leadership in 2016, is one of the few frontbenchers to have held cabinet roles under New Labour. As home secretary she is responsible for formulating policy on the tricky subjects of asylum, prisons and crime. 

Wes Streeting 

The health secretary is one of Labour’s strongest communicators. But he will need all his powers of persuasion in a government with limited fiscal firepower — and with junior doctors still on strike. He likes to say the NHS is a “service not a shrine”.

Staffers

Some of Starmer’s political aides are already familiar names, in particular his chief of staff, Sue Gray. Others have stayed in the shadows until now.

Sue Gray

The Whitehall veteran has rapidly established herself as the eminence grise behind Starmer since becoming Labour’s chief of staff. Her focus has been preparing the party for using the machinery of government after the election to turn its lengthy manifesto proposals into reality.

Morgan McSweeney

As campaign manager McSweeney ran Labour’s election effort. A former director of the Labour Together think-tank, the Irishman who lives in Scotland is widely seen as the architect of the “Starmer project”.

Matthew Doyle

Doyle is an influential member of Starmer’s inner circle as executive director of communications. He worked as a special adviser to Blair in Downing Street. When Blair left Number 10 and set up a private group called “The Office of Tony Blair” he hired Doyle as political director. 

Deborah Mattinson

As director of strategy Mattinson honed a charm offensive among former Tory supporters dubbed “hero voters”. She is a former adviser to previous Labour leaders including Brown, Blair, Neil Kinnock and John Smith. After Labour’s defeat in the 2010 election she co-founded research group BritainThinks.

Katie Martin

Martin is a pivotal figure inside the Labour Treasury team, acting as gatekeeper and sounding board to Reeves since July 2021. Her previous jobs have included chief press officer in Downing Street when Brown was prime minister, and director of public affairs for Citizens Advice. 

Vidhya Alakeson

Alakeson, director of external relations, has played a vital role building links between Labour’s front bench and the business world — yielding a letter from more than 100 business figures endorsing the party. Previous roles before joining Starmer’s team in 2022 include deputy chief executive of the Resolution Foundation think-tank.

Paul Ovenden 

Ovenden, a former Sunday Telegraph newspaper journalist, is on the sharp edge of politics as the person in charge of Labour’s “attack and rebuttal” unit. He has also been responsible for the party’s digital adverts. He joined Labour as a press officer in 2014 but left during the Jeremy Corbyn era, working for InHouse Communications and M&C Saatchi. 

Peter Hyman

Starmer’s concept of “five missions” — his central aims — were in part the brainchild of Hyman, an education specialist. He previously worked for Blair as a strategist, chief speechwriter and head of the Downing Street strategic communications unit. 

David Evans 

Despite his low profile, general secretary Evans plays a key role in running the Labour party machine from its headquarters in Southwark. Assistant general secretary under Blair, he is responsible for the smooth operation of the party and its financial wellbeing.

Stuart Ingham

Long a Starmer ally, having led his leadership campaign in 2020, Ingham wields an influence outside the party that far outstrips his low public profile as executive director of policy. A former academic, Ingham is trusted by Starmer having worked alongside him for almost eight years after transferring to his office as a researcher.

Tom Webb

As director of policy and research, the effective deputy to Ingham on policy matters, Webb is expected to play a key role coordinating domestic policy. Before joining Labour, Webb worked in the prime minister’s implementation unit in the Cabinet Office between 2014 and 2017.

Luke Sullivan

Sullivan, who previously worked in the whips’ office under three former Labour leaders, is well-versed in parliamentary process. The football-loving Bristolian helps maintain channels between Starmer’s office and the Parliamentary Labour party as director of politics.

Jill Cuthbertson

As director of Starmer’s private office, Cuthbertson is the ultimate gatekeeper to the new prime minister. Her influence goes far beyond administration. She previously ran Ed Miliband’s office when he was leader between 2010 and 2015. 

Alan Lockey

Lockey became Starmer’s speechwriter in July 2022. Previously he was head of the “future work” programme at the Royal Society of Arts. Before that he worked as research director at think-tank Demos and was a Labour education adviser at the 2015 general election. 

Union leaders

Labour has become less financially reliant on the big trade unions under Starmer. But the union barons still provide big donations and wield power through institutions such as the party’s national executive committee.

Christina McAnea

Despite her low profile, McAnea, general secretary of public sector union Unison, has been a key supporter of Starmer. Her support was pivotal in September 2021 when the Labour leader changed the party rules to make it harder for left-wingers to stand in future leadership contests. 

Gary Smith

The Scottish leader of the GMB has long been loyal to Starmer and the industrial union has propped him up at critical votes on its ruling NEC. But the outspoken Smith sometimes criticises the leadership, for example over the potential threat to jobs in the fossil fuels industry from Labour’s green plans.

Sharon Graham

Graham has been a thorn in the side of the Labour leadership since taking the helm of Unite. The union was previously Labour’s single most generous donor but gifts have been less forthcoming under Graham. She has criticised Starmer for his economic caution and for his policy of ending new drilling licences in the North Sea.

Policy influencers

The concept of “Starmerism” is not yet established as a political philosophy, but the prime minister’s version of soft-left social democracy is becoming more clear. Here are some of the intellectual influencers whose work is likely to shape policy development.

Sam Sharps

Sam Sharps, executive director of policy at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, holds an influential role as Starmer takes Labour in a more Blairite direction. Sharps, who previously worked at tech giant Apple and as an adviser to telecoms company Vodafone, is heavily involved in TBI’s attempts to find ways to use technology to improve government. 

Carys Roberts

The Institute of Public Policy Research remains one of the pre-eminent think tanks of the centre left under the leadership of executive director Carys Roberts. Before taking on the role in 2020 she led the group’s influential “commission on economic justice”. She previously worked at the IFS, RSA and Social Mobility Foundation. 

Nathan Yeowell

Yeowell was the head of the think-tank that published an influential paper on “mission-led government”, which has found an echo in Starmer’s talk of “five missions”. A Labour councillor in Wales, Yeowell ran the centre-left Progressive Britain (formerly Progress) think-tank between 2019 and 2023 and is an ally of McSweeney.

Mathew Lawrence

Lawrence, a former IPPR researcher, founded the Common Wealth think-tank to address issues ranging from the green economy to corporate monopolies and bank profits. He was one of several inspirations for Labour’s “Green Prosperity Plan”. Despite being slashed back, it remains one of the party’s more ambitious policies.

Lord Jim O’Neill

A crossbench peer and briefly a Treasury minister under George Osborne, the former Goldman Sachs banker was key to the establishment of the Conservative government’s Northern Powerhouse rebalancing agenda a decade ago. Still an influential figure in regional economic thinking, more recently he has been advising Reeves.

Tom Riordan

Riordan, who recently announced his imminent departure as chief executive of Leeds council after 14 years, has been advising Labour on regional policy development for months. He is widely expected to be given a non-political role in Starmer’s government, potentially in the Cabinet Office. 

Donors

A trio of millionaires each donated £5mn to the party in the general election, giving Labour greater firepower to campaign.

Dale Vince

Vince, who has given £5mn to Labour, is one of the most colourful figures in the party’s orbit, having previously given donations to campaign group Just Stop Oil. The founder of Ecotricity was a hippy in his youth but has since made a fortune of about £100mn by investing in renewable energy.

Gary Lubner

Lubner is an entrepreneur who made his fortune running vehicle glass repair company Autoglass. He is now determined to hand several million pounds of it to Starmer’s Labour. Born in South Africa to Jewish refugees from Russia, Lubner moved to the UK 35 years ago.

Lord David Sainsbury

The former chair of the Sainsbury supermarket chain is expected to have given £5mn by election day, cementing his position as the most generous contributor of his generation to Britain’s centre-left politics. Science minister under Blair, he has over the years given millions to Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the anti-Brexit campaign.

Waheed Alli

A media entrepreneur who sits in the House of Lords, Alli has played a vital role in bringing private donations back into the party and making it less reliant on unions.

The former Carlton and Endemol executive is a stalwart of the New Labour era, having joined the upper chamber in 1998. He is one of the few openly gay Muslim politicians in the world and led the campaign to repeal Section 28, a law that stopped councils from “promoting” homosexuality.

Business advisers

All public affairs firms, lobbying groups and advisory bodies have been recruiting former Labour aides to strengthen their connections to the new government. Here are some figures in the corporate world with the best Labour connections.

Iain Anderson, H/Advisors Cicero

Anderson, a public affairs executive, was charged last year with drawing up plans to give small companies a strong voice under a Labour government. The founder of Cicero public relations, he is a former One Nation Tory who advised former Conservative chancellor Ken Clarke on his leadership bids

Lord Mandelson, Global Counsel

Mandelson, co-founder of New Labour, remains an influential figure with links to the party’s upper echelons. He co-owns Global Counsel, an international advisory group that offers political and regulatory advice. But he resigned as director of GC in May, prompting speculation about a return to politics. 

James Robinson, Woburn Partners 

Robinson was media editor at the Guardian and Observer before working as head of press for Tom Watson, then- Labour deputy leader, for three years. In 2018 he founded Woburn Partners to advise on media strategy and crisis management. Its personnel include Jeff Randall, a veteran of business journalism, as non-executive chair. 

Varun Chandra, Hakluyt

Chandra is managing partner of Hakluyt, the corporate consultancy founded by ex-MI6 officers that gleans information for clients from its network of powerful individuals worldwide. He previously worked for Lehman Brothers and Blair as the former prime minister built his private sector advisory business after leaving office.

Business leaders

After his predecessor Corbyn alienated businesses with his hard-left agenda, Starmer has made a point of courting company bosses. Starmer has promised a “partnership” between enterprise and a Labour government, but some executives are particularly close to the party. 

Mark Carney

Carney was governor of the Bank of England between 2013 and 2020. The Canadian now chairs asset manager Brookfield. He delivered an A-list endorsement to Reeves at last year’s party conference and sits on the task force advising Labour on the creation of a £7.3bn national wealth fund.

Baroness Shriti Vadera 

Vadera was a minister in the last Labour government, playing a central role in the response to the global financial crisis. She has held senior private sector roles, including chair of Santander UK. She has chaired insurer Prudential since 2021 and sat on Labour’s financial services advisory panel this year. 

Dame Amanda Blanc, Aviva 

The chief executive of insurer Aviva has won the trust of Rachel Reeves’s team. Blanc sits on Labour’s British infrastructure council, which has been advising the party on how to boost private sector investment in UK projects. Blanc was prominent at a Labour event for 400 businesspeople in February. 

Influential new MPs

The influx of new Labour MPs includes high flyers who can expect rapid promotion to ministerial rank. Some are influential think-tank figures, while others are former ministers or shadow ministers returning to politics.

Josh Simons

As director of Labour Together, Simons has grown the pro-Starmer think-tank from one member of staff to more than 30 in less than two years. The new MP for Makerfield is an ambitious Cambridge and Harvard graduate. He spent a brief spell working for Corbyn when he was Labour leader but his politics are moderate and centrist.

Torsten Bell 

Bell is an influential voice in progressive economics who spent nearly a decade as chief executive of the Resolution Foundation until quitting to run in Swansea West. A former Treasury economist who advised then-chancellor Alistair Darling during the financial crash, he was also director of policy to Miliband as leader.

Georgia Gould 

Gould stood down from the leadership of Camden council to run for parliament. The daughter of New Labour co-architect Philip Gould, she took the helm of the local authority while in her early 30s, becoming a particularly trusted figure within Labour’s local government firmament. She has been advising the party on regional policy development. 

Emma Reynolds

Reyolds, who won in Wycombe, was shadow Europe minister and shadow housing minister under Miliband’s leadership. But she resigned from the shadow cabinet — where she was shadow communities secretary — after Corbyn became leader. She lost her seat in the 2019 election and has since worked at banking lobbying group The City UK.

Douglas Alexander 

Alexander will bring a wealth of much-needed experience after 14 years out of power. He was first elected in 1997 and served as a cabinet minister under Blair and Brown. He lost his seat in 2015, but won on Thursday in the key Labour target seat of East Lothian.

Miatta Fahnbulleh

A prominent leftwing economist and former chief of the New Economics Foundation think-tank since 2017, Fattebulleh is expected to be a rising star of the new intake. She won in Camberwell & Peckham, a safe seat in south London previously occupied by Harriet Harman. 

Regional leaders

The previous Conservative government often had difficult relations with a string of Labour mayors. The question will be whether they can leverage more money and powers now their party has returned to Downing Street.

Sadiq Khan 

Khan’s re-election as London mayor for a third term in 2024 means Labour will have political control in Westminster and City Hall. As mayor, Khan caused controversy by rolling out ultra-low-emission zones in London and has urged the Labour leadership to be more ambitious in repairing relations with EU.

Andy Burnham

The self-styled “King of the North” is a former minister and Labour’s most high-profile mayor. In recent years he has not shied away from rocking the boat. He is now joined by a legion of other English metro mayors, particularly in the north, some of whom are likely to be influential behind the scenes.

Vaughan Gething 

Gething was elected as first minister of Wales in March this year after more than decade in the Welsh Senedd. But his administration was quickly plunged into controversy over his acceptance of campaign donations from a recycling group whose owner was convicted over illegal waste dumping charges. Gething lost a no-confidence vote in June 2024 but vowed to stay on.

Anas Sarwar 

Sarwar became leader of Scottish Labour in February 2021, becoming the first ethnic minority head of a big British party. Later that year Labour came third in the Holyrood elections behind the Scottish National party and the Tories. But he has since overseen a dramatic turnaround in Labour’s fortunes north of the border, and one of the senior Labour figures who pushed Starmer into backing a Gaza ceasefire.



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