Sir Keir Starmer appoints Kate Green as new shadow education secretary

27 June 2020, 17:35

Kate Green has replaced Rebecca Long-Bailey as shadow education secretary
Kate Green has replaced Rebecca Long-Bailey as shadow education secretary. Picture: UK Parliament
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has replaced the former shadow education secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey with Kate Green.

The Stretford and Urmston MP has taken over from Ms Long-Bailey, a former leadership contender, who was sacked from the opposition front bench this week after tweeting a link to an interview alleged to contain an antisemitic conspiracy theory.

MPs on the left of the party had called for the former education secretary to be reinstated, but the Labour leader ignored demands saying he had made up his mind.

Announcing Ms Green's appointment on Saturday, Sir Keir said: "I'm delighted to appoint Kate Green as shadow education secretary.

"Kate has spent a lifetime campaigning against child poverty and educational inequalities.

"I look forward to working with her in this new role."

Ms Green, who served as shadow minister for women and equalities under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, said: "It's a privilege to have been asked to serve as shadow education secretary.

"The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on children's education.

"I look forward to working with teachers, unions, parents and councils to help ensure we get our children back in school as soon as possible."

She quit from Mr Corbyn's shadow Cabinet after the Brexit referendum, in what was seen by left-wing critics as a coup against the Islington North MP, and went on to chair Owen Smith's failed leadership bid.

Ms Green was then given the role of shadow minister for child poverty strategy in April, before Sir Keir elevated her to education spokeswoman two months on.

The Stretford and Urmston MP, who has represented Labour in the Commons since 2010, has previously spoken out against antisemitism, branding it "sickening".

On 27 February 2019, she took to Twitter to urge the then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to prove the party would not tolerate antisemitism.

Prior to becoming an MP, the 60-year-old was chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group and before that, director of the National Council for One Parent Families (now Gingerbread).

Bristol North West MP Darren Jones said Ms Green's appointment as shadow education secretary was "brilliant news."

He wrote on Twitter: "Couldn’t be more pleased to see Kate Green as our new UK Labour Shadow Education Secretary.

"A life long campaigner against child poverty and inequality.

"Brilliant news."

The chief executive of The Children's Society, Mark Russell, said he was looking forward to working with the new shadow cabinet member.

He wrote: "Absolutely delighted by Kate Green's appointment as the new Shadow Education Secretary.

"Kate is deeply committed to helping disadvantaged children and we at The Children's Society are looking forward to working with her."

On Friday, members of the Campaign group of MPs held a conference call with Sir Keir to protest against Ms Long-Bailey's dismissal as shadow education secretary.

Sir Keir said the meeting was "constructive and the tone was absolutely right," but ultimately ended in disagreement.

"We engaged for about an hour in discussion but my mind is made up on this," he said.

"I took my decision yesterday and put my statement out yesterday."

Kate Green has been a Labour MP since 2010
Kate Green has been a Labour MP since 2010. Picture: PA

Ms Long-Bailey was fired on Thursday after refusing to take down a tweet linking to an interview with the actor Maxine Peake in which she claimed police linked to the death of George Floyd in the US had learned their tactics from the Israeli secret services.

However, the former shadow education secretary insisted it was not "racist or anti-Semitic" to draw attention to concerns about police tactics.

The speed of Sir Keir's decision to move against her was being seen as fresh evidence of his willingness to take on the left-wing faction of the party.

She was the favoured candidate of the left when she stood against him in the Labour leadership election earlier this year.

Despite unhappiness among supporters of the former leader, there was no sign of any other left-wing frontbenchers being prepared to resign in protest, while Ms Long-Bailey insisted she would continue to work for a Labour government.