Keir Starmer ‘ditched into dustbin of history’ predicts expert
Sir Keir is thought to be readying to reshuffle his Shadow Cabinet amid plunging poll ratings. The lengthy honeymoon period he enjoyed after becoming leader last year appears to be coming to an end. Potentially in line for the axe is his Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds.
She and Sir Keir attracted criticism earlier this month after opposing the Government’s plans to raise corporation tax in the Budget.
Much of the dissent came from the left-wing voices in the party, with Steven Fielding, Professor of Political History at the University of Nottingham, having told Express.co.uk the opposition to Sir Keir is a growing trend as many become “uneasy” with his direction.
He said historical support for tax increases among the heavily socialist politicians like Angela Rayner, deputy leader, Clive Lewis, a prominent Corbynite, and other previous shadow members under former leader Jeremy Corbyn made a clear split with the leadership.
Professor Fielding added that there were around “20 to 25 percent” of party members, along with the Socialist Campaign Group, who will “always attack Starmer”.
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Vitally, however, are the undecided who make up the bulk of the party, and who are by and large increasingly sceptical of Sir Keir’s strategy.
Professor Fielding said: “There’s a more general unease among people outside of that core hostile group that are a bit concerned about the direction of his leadership.
“Since he’s become leader he’s focused unremittingly on trying to demonstrate and communicate in different ways, shapes, or forms that the party has changed.
“And this is aimed at those Red Wall voters Labour lost in 2019 – now, you never see him without the flag; he’s talked about in various speeches family, community, security, patriotism – this last one is really what gets some members.
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“People like Clive Lewis say that if you start waving a flag like that in order to get votes from Red Wall voters, you’re almost implying that it’s racist.
“If you don’t say, ‘Well I’m patriotic – but there’s lots of things wrong with being British, the British Empire wasn’t this great thing’, if you don’t critique being British while at the same time saying you’re patriotic, then they’ve got problems with it.
“When people see Starmer saying these patriotic things to Red Wall voters, they think, ‘Hang on a minute, that’s not what we want, that’s not what we stand for’.
“And so it’s part of a sense of unease that some people have had about Starmer and the direction he’s taking the party, they view him as a sort of Trojan Horse.”
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Yesterday, Sir Keir was urged by Len McCluskey to “honour” the left-wing pledges he committed to last year to offer a credible alternative to the Conservatives.
The general secretary of Unite the Union – which is the biggest individual funder of the party – said the Labour leader is suffering from a “lack of authenticity” and direction.
Writing in The Independent, he said: “Focus groups show that at best his Labour Party is seen as dull, absent of convictions or presence, at worst opportunistic, only following the political wind after it has blown, rarely making the weather.”
He referenced a complaint made by the late former Conservative politicians Willie Whitelaw that Labour under Harold Wilson during the 1970 election campaign was going around the country “stirring up apathy”, and said: “Today it is true.”
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He added: “Turmoil engulfs constituencies at the sharp end of unwarranted and undemocratic interference from on high, just as we head to the biggest day of voting since the general election on May 6.
“Starmer would have to be living in a cave to be unaware of the concerns about the direction, or lack of it, of his Labour Party and the consequent disaffection this has caused in voters.”
He claimed “voters can smell” the uncertainty from the top of Labour, and that they “know this is a party unsure about who it now is and who it now speaks for”.
Meanwhile, Ms Dodds’ potential departure is part of his plans to demote several underperforming shadow ministers after the local elections, according to The Sunday Times.
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Allies of the leader say Ms Dodds has failed to communicate the party’s vision effectively.
Rachel Reeves is believed to be in the running to replace Ms Dodds.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy is also in the frame.