We have a new opposition: What's the big deal?

6 April 2020

Who’s who in the new Shadow Cabinet and what is the role of the opposition

After a lengthy election the new Leader of the Labour Party is confirmed as Sir Keir Starmer and the Deputy Leader is Angela Rayner. More recently the Shadow Cabinet has been appointed, meaning we now know the faces of the new Official Opposition.


The Official Opposition refers to the largest political party in the House of Commons that is not in government - currently this is the Labour Party. The role of the Official Opposition is to question and scrutinise the work of the government. It is widely agreed that a strong Opposition is important to the effectiveness of Parliament and democracy.


This means that as Leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer is also the Leader of the Official Opposition. The Leader of the Official Opposition is responsible for appointing a Shadow Cabinet. The role of the Shadow Cabinet involves:


This means that as Leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer is also the Leader of the Official Opposition. The Leader of the Official Opposition is responsible for appointing a Shadow Cabinet. The role of the Shadow Cabinet includes:

  • Closely examining the activities of Government Ministers
  • Asking the government to explain its actions
  • Responding to Government policy initiatives and sometimes offering alternative policies

The Opposition fulfils these responsibilities through multiple avenues:

  • Prime Minister’s Question Time
  • Budget debates
  • Debates on legislation (laws)
  • Parliamentary committees


So, let’s take a look at the new Leaders of the Opposition. For each of them I’ve given you:

  1. Information about where they developed their voice before entering politics
  2. The issues they're using their voices to support
  3. A random fact - because if you ever get a chance to use your voice to lobby them, knowing their interests can be a useful tool to engage them from the get go

If you want to know more about their parliamentary career and how they’ve voted on issues that matter to you look them up on https://www.theyworkforyou.com/.


Keir Starmer, Leader

  1. Before entering Parliament he was a barrister specialising in human rights, trade union and environmental cases.
  2. Increase income tax for the top 5% of earners and clamp down on tax avoidance, particularly of large corporations. Invest in the NHS. Abolish tuition fees. Review all UK arms sales. Devolve powers. Abolish the House of Lords.
  3. He is a supporter of Arsenal Football Club.


Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader

  1. Studied social care and the British Sign Language at college and became a social care worker for her local council. Her political career started when she became a representative of her trade union and went on to become the most senior official in her region as the convener of Unison North West.
  2. Investing in council housing. Fully funded care service. Grassroots politics. Supporting working class families. Trade unions and workers’ rights.
  3. One of her heroes is Emmeline Pankhurst who was instrumental in organising the UK suffragette movement and helping women win the right to vote


There are 34 officials in the Shadow Cabinet, if you want to know who they are vist the Labour Party’s website.


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