Two Labour & Co-op MPs join Starmer’s shadow cabinet

Anneliese Dodds is the first woman to be appointed shadow chancellor

Two Labour & Co-operative MPs have been given senior positions in Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet.

Jonathan Ashworth (Labour & Co-op MP for Leicester South) remains shadow secretary of state for health and social care and Anneliese Dodds (Labour & Co-op MP for Oxford East) has been appointed shadow chancellor of the exchequer. Ms Dodds is the first woman to hold the role of shadow chancellor; no woman has ever served as chancellor. Labour’s Lisa Nandy has been appointed shadow foreign secretary and Nick Thomas-Symonds shadow home secretary.

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“We are living through a national emergency. Under my leadership, the Labour Party will always act in the country’s interest to save lives and protect livelihoods. That will be the number one priority of my shadow cabinet,” said Sir Keir, announcing the appointments.

“We will be a responsible opposition that supports the government where we believe they are right and challenge them when we believe mistakes are being made.”

Anneliese Dodds was appointed shadow Treasury minister by Jeremy Corbyn in 2017. Responding to the Conservative’s budget last month, Ms Dodds said it failed to repair a decade of austerity and was “a missed opportunity to reshape our economy for the better”.

“From a lack of statutory sick pay for ‘precarious’ workers, to the broken social care system and flawed universal credit rollout – the coronavirus is exposing the weaknesses in our economy and public services,” she said.

“[This budget] was a chance to fundamentally change how our economy works – but that chance wasn’t taken. The Conservative government talks about levelling up, but as a Labour and Co-operative MP I know that this cannot be achieved without structural changes to the way our economy is run and distributes rewards.”

She added that for a fairer, more productive economy, the budget “needed to invest in growing the co-operative sector, and creating a level playing field so that businesses who don’t play by the rules can’t get away with paying less than their fair share of taxes or using more than their fair share of the world’s resources”. 

Ms Dodds acknowledged the budget held “some, limited, areas of progress for the co-operative sector,” highlighting changes that mean housing co-ops will no longer have to pay unfair punitive taxes and the recognition of the need for more inclusive financial institutions. 

“Beyond just recognising that these problems exist, however, we urgently need action. For many years the Co-operative Party has been campaigning for a fairer financial system, building on the work of credit unions and other financial cooperatives. Now we need support so they can play a far larger role in increasing peoples’ financial resilience, especially those with limited resources,” she added.

Congratulating Ms Dodds, Co-op Party general secretary Joe Fortune said it was “a huge shot in the arm for co-operators and the co-operative movement to have someone as talented and committed [as] the shadow chancellor of the exchequer.”

Ms Dodds, who has a degree in PPE from Oxford University and a PhD in government from LSE, was formerly a Member of the European Parliament for the South East England region (2014-2017), serving on the economic and monetary affairs committee, with a focus on corporate tax avoidance. She has long championed women’s rights, making headlines in 2016 when she took her four-month-old daughter Isabella to Strasbourg where she spoke on tax avoidance laws.

Writing on International Women’s Day this year, she talked about how although women have come far in terms of gender equality, there is still a long way to go. “Women still only make up 202 out of the 650 Members of Parliament – although, after the last election, the Labour Party actually has more female than male MPs,” she said. 

She also highlighted the drastic underfunding of women’s services, adding that it is “crucial that where we can, we as a nation support women in crisis [who are] disproportionately impacted by crisis, across the world”.

“I will continue to push for women’s equality through my work in parliament [but] we must all continue to celebrate how far we have come, and the women around us, too.”

Jonathan Ashworth has served as shadow secretary of state for health in the shadow cabinets of Jeremy Corbyn and Keir Starmer since 2016. Born in Salford, he studied PPE at Durham University, served as national secretary of Labour students in 2000 and previously worked as an adviser to Gordon Brown and head of party relations for Ed Miliband.