Politics Explained

Who can help Starmer win back Labour votes in the north?

Recent polls have made grim reading for the party leader, writes Sean O’Grady

Thursday 06 May 2021 07:27
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<p>Starmer with Rebecca Long-Bailey and John McDonnell, two prominent figures of the left</p>

Starmer with Rebecca Long-Bailey and John McDonnell, two prominent figures of the left

To adapt a phrase, it would seem that some in the Labour Party believe that Keir Starmer’s difficulty is the left’s opportunity. While a Corbynite resurrection is unlikely, a poor election showing in Hartlepool and across the country – by what you might term Starmerite Labour – contains its own silvery-red lining.

The reports are that the left – represented in parliament by the likes of Jon Trickett, Ian Lavery and Richard Burgon in the Campaign Group – is giving Starmer another year to make progress or make way for someone else. Already Burgon has urged the leader to include a “big” figure from the left in the shadow cabinet (whoever could he mean?), and there have been various coded threats about the way Starmer has been running things.

Key concerns include the reversal of a Corbyn-era pledge to hike corporation tax (with Covid as the reason/cover); a suspicion that Starmer and Jonathan Ashworth’s “constructive criticism” over Covid leaves Labour looking weak and pointless; frustration at internal party disputes; and resentment about the way the drive to eradicate antisemitism has been handled, which is to say with sincerity and commitment. After all, the failure of Jeremy Corbyn to unconditionally welcome the Equality and Human Rights Commission report into Labour’s antisemitism problem has led to the former leader now sitting as an independent MP. Rebecca Long-Bailey, the once future leader, also left the front bench after an argument with the leader around antisemitism.

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