A KEY Labour frontbencher who was unseated at the General Election in a shock win for a pro-Palestine independent has been named the head of a top party think tank.

Jonathan Ashworth, who was credited with playing a “leading” role in Labour’s election campaign, has been appointed the director of Labour Together – the think tank which Scottish Labour previously dismissed as irrelevant.

Ashworth takes over from John Simons, the former director of the think tank who made headlines after saying smuggler gangs should be put on a barge and shipped to Scotland, adding: “Who cares?”

Simons was elected to Westminster after being handed a safe seat in the north of England by the party’s national executive committee.

Anas Sarwar's Scottish Labour defended Simons as a "fantastic" candidate – despite previously having called his think tank a "cringe" outfit on the fringes of the party.

READ MORE: Scottish Labour defend MP candidate who Anas Sarwar said was 'best ignored'

Ashworth lost his seat – which he’d won with a majority of 22,000 votes under Jeremy Corbyn in 2019 – to pro-Palestine independent Shockat Adam in one of the biggest upsets of the General Election.

He was quickly appointed to lead Labour Together after the loss, with the Guardian reporting that the think tank was poised to “play a pivotal role in Keir Starmer’s government”.

Labour Together was set up in 2015 and from 2017 to 2020 was led by Starmer’s campaign chief Morgan McSweeney, who used it as a vehicle to oppose Corbyn’s leadership.

On taking over, Ashworth said: “Over the last decade, Labour Together has played a vital role in advancing progressive politics and helping Labour to return to power.

“With Labour now in government, Labour Together will continue to generate the bold ideas needed for Labour to transform Britain for the better and win a second term. I can’t wait to get started.”

Pat McFadden was Labour's General Election campaign chief (Image: free)

Pat McFadden, Labour’s campaign coordinator for the General Election, welcomed the appointment, saying: “Jonathan Ashworth made a huge contribution to Labour’s election victory, both in strategy and as a leading Labour spokesperson.

“Was very sorry to see him lose his seat but delighted he has been appointed to this key new role.”

Ashworth, a former adviser to Gordon Brown, was shadow paymaster general and played a prominent role in his party’s election media campaign. He was MP for Leicester South from 2011 to 2024.