Kier Starmer rearranges the desk chairs and announces a Labour Shadow Cabinet  reshuffle. Most, including Phil BC, with whom I agree, see this as a shift to the right of the Party. The demotion of Ashworth and his replacement with Kendall is a move to the right on policy grounds. The demotion of Lisa Nandy & Rosanna Allin-Kahn would seem to be a warning to others that either have ambition or ideas.  Momentum’s co-chair Hilary Schan, reacts in this article in Left foot forward, and points at Neal Lawson’s devastating critique of the reshuffle, as being designed to minimise [and scare] ideological diversity.

In the rest of this article, I comment on some of the more high profile moves and look, in some detail, at the new leadership in Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The high spot for me is moving Reed from Justice, perhaps moving someone who must share some of the blame for losing Croydon Council to a popular insurgency to impose a Mayor, to DEFRA is designed to put him somewhere where he can do less damage electorally. Reed also proselytises the worst of blue labour politics on crime and punishment. Shabanna Mahmood, who takes over at justice from him, has generally struck me as decent, a talent much needed in the Justice portfolio and has voted in favour of proportional representation. It is being reported that Ellie Reeves has been moved from Justice to campaigning; she previously held the role of shadow Solicitor-General; I am unsure who is replacing her and we can assume that Starmer’s kitchen cabinet see campaigning as more important than compliance which is what the Solicitor-General does.

McFadden moving to Treasury reinforces the power of the orthodox neo-liberal economists in the shadow Treasury team.

I had a look at the changes to the digital and digitisation portfolio because it interests me and others will not.

Thangam Debbonaire swaps with Lucy Powell to become shadow Secretary for digital, culture, media and sport. Stephanie Peacock gets, Media, Data, and Digital Infrastructure, the portfolio is described at while Alex Davies-Jones gets Tech, Gambling, and the Digital Economy, also described on the site. On reading the two departmental pages, there seems to be some room for confusion as they both have responsibility for data, and the split between the two roles makes sense in a hierarchy as is the case on the Government benches, but not between two equals; perhaps Debbonaire will need to mug up on the politics and act as referee if she allowed.

Media, Data, and Digital InfrastructureTech, Gambling, and the Digital Economy
Media, Creative Industries, Digital Infrastructure/Telecoms, Data, Cyber, Digital Identity, Corporate  Digital Strategy (including Digital Regulation and Digital Markets), Tech Policy, Office for AI, Online Harms, Online advertising, International strategy, Digital Standards, Economic security, Gambling and Lotteries, Overall legislation and SIs

All of the new DCMS team were anti-brexit as was Shabanna Mahmood.

Labour has, in my opinion, a poor record on 21st century digital policy; on copyright, surveillance and cybersecurity, it has most of the big calls wrong. On copyright, it passed laws or argued for those that benefit industrial music and movies. This is at the cost of supporting fans, and inhibiting the internet’s growth and the value it creates.  The vision that economically this is a dispute between the creative industries and the internet service providers is a profound mistake. The pro copyright lobby campaigns for laws which as a side effect makes the development and adoption of software difficult or costly. This dispute plays out, not only in the legislatures of the OECD nations, but also in their courts. The epitome of this dispute, strangely, is expressed in a court case between two of the DatenKraken, in the multi-year, Google versus Oracle court case finally settled in US Supreme Court in 1921. I say finally, but the Supreme Court judgement leaves much room for another round, as they ruled what Google had done did not infringe Oracle’s copyright, but only because of what they had done. The software industry wanted the court to declare that APIs like laws could not be copyrighted.

Labour also has a poor record on freedom of speech, state surveillance and cybersecurity, partly through their reaction to political fake news and bullying, although not so seriously that they want to investigate the Russian influence on the referendum. The effect of the western politician’s legislative response to cyberbullying, and illegal porn is to privatise prior-restraint. Much of these legal frameworks come from the United States and are designed to boost the profitability of US intellectual property industries and facilitate their surveillance state.

However, the crapness comes from Starmer and his New Labour predecessors, so I don’t expect much to change.

On Wednesday, we learn that Chris Bryant becomes shadow-Minister for the Creative industries, more of Watson’s fingerprints on the department. Personally, I think Bryant was/is one of the most articulate backbenchers, his ‘promotion’ to the front bench will sadly silence his voice.

This was written mainly on 5 Sep 2023, and was published on 19th and has been back dated to 8 Sep 2023

Starmer’s reshuffle
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