Starmer’s Month of the Long Knives

Keir Starmer wasn’t lying when he told Piers Morgan he’d been “listening” to Tony Blair’s leadership advice. Over the past few weeks, Sir Keir’s been pulling every lever within reach to fulfill the promise of a “total deconstruction and reconstruction” of the Labour Party. A “reconstruction” which, coincidentally, means appointing a load of Blairites…

Almost every organ of the party – from the Leader’s Office, to the frontbench, to the PLP, and to the National Executive Committee – has seen a wave of changes over the last few weeks. It hasn’t happened overnight, though now the purpose is quite clear: a doubling down on “New New Labour”.

In the Leader’s Office, Blairite Sam White was recently enlisted as Chief of Staff replacing Morgan McSweeney, joining new strategist Deborah Mattinson (Blair/Brown adviser), and interim director of communications Matthew Doyle (Blair adviser) replaces Ben Nunn. This, of course, follows Carolyn Harris’s resignation as Starmer’s parliamentary private secretary in May, along with Jenny Chapman’s unceremonious shafting as his director of politics a month later. Deconstruction and reconstruction, piece by piece.

Over in the PLP, Ben Folley (a relic of the Corbyn golden years) has announced today he’s leaving his role as General Secretary of the Parliamentary Labour Party, which follows Starmer’s ruthless purge of thousands of far-left loons at the National Executive Committee meeting last week. And of course, this is before you even get to the botched reshuffle of the frontbench…

UPDATE 28 July: Keir Starmer’s speechwriter and close aide Chris Ward has told colleagues he is quitting according to the Guardian. Which begs the question, who will be his new speechwriter? If he is recycling Blairites, he could bring back Phil Collins, the recently sacked Times columnist now with time on his hands. After all he did write some of the most memorable speeches for Tony Blair…

UPDATE 29 July: Tom Hughes, who worked on Starmer’s leadership campaign before joining the leader’s office as press officer and spokesperson, is leaving.

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Phil Collins Officially Sacked as Times Columnist

In ‘shock’ news Phil Collins has been sacked from his Times column. Guido is astounded to hear he was still officially employed given he hasn’t had a column for weeks. It is the talk of the mini-Shard that he still had access to his office email when he sacked, given he was basically told he was going two weeks ago. If only beforehand they had removed his access to email, they could have just let him walk away, just let him leave without a trace. Collins is choosing to spin that he was dispatched with only 30 seconds explanation for being too left-wing.

The fact is, as Guido told him weeks ago, he didn’t really have any insights into the government or relevance to the contemporary political situation. His entertaining antithetical attitude towards Corbyn had extended his relevance for years beyond the sell-by-date of most media Blairites. Phil did well to last 12 years…

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Phil Collins on Poppers and Political Strategy

Phil Collins writes

“Does anyone suppose that if Labour had employed Crosby that Ed Miliband would now be prime minister? The Tories could put Crispin Blunt in a room full of poppers and ask him to run the 2020 campaign. They’d still win.”

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