Jenny for the Chop: Labour MPs Point to Litany of Failures

It sounds like the fallout from Labour’s local election performance is far from over. Since the weekend of political cock-ups – including the botched sacking of Anglea Rayner – Baroness Jenny Chapman has been in the crosshairs of Sir Keir’s opponents and a few of his friends. Chapman, former MP for Darlington, ran Starmer’s leadership campaign in 2020 and since his victory has been his righthand woman. Something that worries many in the Labour Party…

In the words of Red Boxask a Labour backbencher what Starmer needs to change, and Chapman is a large part of the answer.” MPs’ disquiet is far from related only to the local election results, however. Guido can reveal at the end of April he was forwarded a memo being texted around Labour MPs entitled “Jenny’s 15 f**k ups”, with them accusing her of a litany of failures in Labour’s recent political operation, including:

  1. The Corbyn suspension and then re-admittance farce
  2. The Liverpool Mayor selection, dropping the shortlist of three to then face a subsequent court challenge by one of the candidates
  3. The West of England Mayoral candidate selection, where Bristol’s four MPs were endorsing Helen Goodwin, only for Dan Norris to unexpectedly be included on the shortlist then go on to win
  4. Sidelining Tom Kibasi, who helped Starmer with his leadership only to be sidelined by Chapman when he won and go on to write a scathing Guardian piece
  5. Failing to cultivate Unite, who then withdrew funding and resulted in staff sackings ahead of crucial elections
  6. Proposing a new Labour Sikh Peer who was then dropped after Chapman failed to do due diligence
  7. Encouraging Tracy Brabin to stand for West Yorkshire Mayor without realising she’d then force a by-election in Batley & Spen
  8. Handpicking Paul Williams for Hartlepool, breaching Starmer’s leadership pledge not to parachute candidates
  9. Trying to make too many council and mayoral races targets, without consideration of resources and expectation management
  10. Trying to get Jacqui Smith to lead the investigation into Liverpool’s council chaos, only to be overruled by the NEC
  11. Organising Sir Keir’s visit to Jesus House in Newham before being subjected to accusations of homophobia
  12. Agreeing to change Labour’s NEC elections to the STV system, unnecessarily giving places to the Labour left
  13. Promising an NEC place to a Yorkshire MP during the leadership contest, then failing to deliver
  14. Promising Richard Leonard a place at the top of the MSP list as part of his agreement to step down from the Scottish Labour leadership
  15. Labour MPs thinking she would step down from her position after being awarded a peerage, then failing to

To this list can be added a sixteenth reason – Hartlepool – one source who knows her well is convinced she was to blame for selecting Paul Williams –“he’s quite flirty”. Chapman’s love life and history of affairs is brought up by many. When she took up with fellow MP Nick Smith (her now husband), the subsequent messy divorce became an issue in her Darlington constituency. That she lived in Wales on weekends was an issue on the doorstep according to local Labour Party sources. Starmer’s wife must have concerns, she was reported by Tim Shipman to have banned Chapman from the house…

The Times reports a reshuffle of Labour’s frontbench in the Lords is now being planned, and Chapman is the most obvious impending casualty. If even half of these allegations are true – and blame can be pinned on Chapman – there’s no way Starmer could keep her on as his political adviser. Unless he has other personal reasons…

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