Keir Starmer ‘ditched into dustbin of history’ predicts expert
Mr Burgon and other Corbynites will have to support Sir Keir or face losing another election, despite the Leeds-based MP calling out the leadership for “attacking the Left”, Express.co.uk was told. It will come as a relief as the pressure mounts on his leadership ahead of a potential Shadow Cabinet reshuffle after May’s local elections. Senior Labour MPs want Sir Keir to bring a “big figure” to provide greater direction to his leadership.
This is amid concerns that the party’s lack of ambition and policy is hindering its popularity among the public.
While Sir Keir’s personal popularity has fallen in the polls, his leadership has also taken a battering from Labour members.
Richard Burgon, the Corbynite MP and former Shadow Justice Secretary under Jeremy Corbyn, has pitted himself as Sir Keir’s biggest and most vocal critic.
He most recently appeared on BBC Politics last month and said of Sir Keir: “The leadership has shown more enthusiasm for attacking the left in the Labour Party than it has for properly holding the Government to account.”
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Yet, while vehemently opposed to him, Steven Fielding, Professor of Political History at the University of Nottingham told Express.co.uk that the likes of Mr Burgon will inevitably support Sir Keir or face plunging the party into disrepair.
He said: “There will always be pushback against Sir Keir, and there are deep suspicions on parts of the Left, the former Corbynite left.
“But there’s always a kind of loyalty that Labour leaders get from members.
“Jeremy Corbyn enjoyed it even though a few MPs disagreed with some of the things he was about.
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“But they often will ultimately support them – that’s kind of a longstanding function among Labour members.”
He added about the Corbynite trade union leaders like Len McCluskey: “Labour’s been out of office since 2010, most trade unionists, most union leaders, most Labour members, reluctantly or not, will probably think ‘Keir Starmer might be our root back into power’.
“Ultimately, they’re going to accept what he’s saying Labour needs to do to win the next general election.”
Sir Keir faced renewed opposition after the Budget, where he and his Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds opposed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s corporation tax increase.
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Three prominent former shadow ministers, Mr Burgon, Ian Lavery and Jon Tricket have all been dismissed since Mr Corbyn left the party last year.
While the Left of the party were once critical of Sir Keir’s personality, they are now increasingly critical of his policies.
There are now concerns that as the country emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, many of the radical pledges which Sir Keir was elected on will be watered-down.
Mr Lavery and Mr Trickett say they have consulted more than 1,000 activists and are giving the grassroots a voice.
Yet, many believe that these Corbynite figures are the reason for Labour’s hammering at the 2019 general election.
Paul Embery, a leading trade unionist and Labour member, told Express.co.uk that Sir Keir, while facing internal issues, appears to be on the right track to winning back Labour’s lost seats.
He said: “I think he’s clever enough to know that Labour has been perceived by millions of working class voters as an unpatriotic party that looks down on its own country.
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“He knows if there’s any chance at all of winning those voters back, one of the first things he has to do is to convince them that the Labour Party is a proudly British party, is a patriotic party, and that it understands why those communities feel the sense of patriotism they do.”
While Sir Keir faces opposition from the Left, many in his top team are deeply on side.
Bed Bradshaw, MP for Exeter, earlier this month condemned Mr Lavery, Mr Trickett and Mr Burgon.
In a Twitter post, he said: “The three Labour MPs calling for tax increases as we emerge from the worst economic hit for 300 years – something not a single economist supports – didn’t bother turning up to make their case at last night’s PLP, where Keir & Anneliese enjoyed unanimous support for their strategy.”
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In order to shake up his team, Sir Keir is thought to be considering sacking Ms Dodds.
His allies say she has failed to communicate the party’s vision effectively, according to The Sunday Times.
Rachel Reeves is believed to be in the running to replace Ms Dodds.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy is also in the frame.