Centrists May Want to Rethink Wes’s Leadership Qualities

Boris’s surprise trip to Ukraine to meet with Zelenskyy set a pretty impressive trap for his opponents to fall into. Between the announcement of his pulling out and the revelation of his international visit, some on the left implied Boris was on the run. Labour lecturer Thom Brooks said it looked like the PM was “giving up on the North again”; Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said I suppose his one saving grace is that @BorisJohnson recognises when he’s really not helping”; Angus Brendan MacNeil MP said “Boris is going to be such an asset in the Scottish independence campaign”; Business Insider’s Cat Neilan tweeted the move “allowed a prospective rival a free hit. And yet LEADERSHIP”, referring to the day’s No. 10 grid. The jewel in the crown, however, was undoubtedly Wes Streeting…

Wes’s latest bout of foot-in-mouth disease comes shortly after having to apologise to the Shadow Cabinet for expressing public sympathy with the rail strikes, though allies insisted he only apologised for the “bad publicity that resulted from the remarks”, earmarking him out as someone with even fewer principles than the current Labour leader. It also follows him being shown up by Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves for pocketing LBC presenting cash while she donated hers to charity. Centrists really do believe Wes Steeting is Labour’s best hope among the candidates to be next leader…

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Starmer’s 10 Broken Pledges Reviewed

Starmer’s Marr interview on Sunday saw the Labour Leader claim that the public’s perception of Boris saw a perception of dishonesty “priced in”, saying the PM was “untrustworthy”. Moments earlier, however, Sir Keir revealed he was rowing back on a major pledge to nationalise energy firms:

This got Guido wondering – how many of his other pledges has Starmer said he’ll stick to since becoming leader? Let’s look through them…

1. Economic Justice

In strictly Labour terms this means putting up taxes. Sir Keir and his top team have struggled to articulate their policies here. Last year the now-shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves repeatedly refused to back Starmer’s promise to increase taxes on those earning over £80,000.

In his latest 14,000 magnum opus, Starmer came across as so low-tax the Taxpayers’ Alliance invited him to join them as a member.

Starmer promised to reverse the Tories’ cuts in corporation tax, however when Rishi raised corporation tax in his last budget Labour voted against the measure.

2. Social Justice

While Starmer has stood his ground on abolishing universal credit, last year his shadow work and pensions minister angered the left over his “divisive” language in describing his vision for a “two-tier” benefits system.

Conference has also been rocked by the resignation of shadow employment minister Andy McDonald over Starmer’s refusal to back the social justice cause of a £15 per hour minimum wage. Shadow DWP secretary Jonathan Reynolds has this morning claimed “you can’t simply pick a figure out the air”

Starmer also promised to “defend our NHS”, though his 14,000 word essay hinted at a renewed public-private partnership for healthcare.

3. Climate Justice

This conference Labour members passed a motion to back a Socialist Green New Deal, which includes a swathe of left-wing policies from public ownership of energy (not happening, see above), debt relief for low-income countries and rights for climate refugees. The policy package, according to the pressure group leadership, would come to £85 billion – however Starmer “won’t even commit to that”.

4. Promote Peace & Human Rights

Admittedly Sir Keir hasn’t yet started any illegal wars though John Healey was appointed his shadow defence secretary who was a junior minister under Blair and consistently voted in favour of Iraq.

In May Labour Palestinian members accused the party of “ignoring them” over a growing feeling the party is and was “drifting away from its anti-racist and anti-colonial principles”. In June 2020 Starmer refused to be drawn on sanctions against Israel, though opposed annexation. Labour’s conference just voted in favour of an appalling motion on Israel/Palestine which Lisa Nandy has already said will be ignored. Quite rightly.

5. Common Ownership

As mentioned above, Sir Keir’s now come out against public ownership of energy, though it wasn’t the first indication of a major policy backtracking. In September last year Lisa Nandy told Politics Live that public ownership was just “one way” and “another way” is “giving people more control”.

At the CBI Sir Keir refused to commit to Corbyn’s policy of renationalising BT.

6. Defend migrants’ rights

Just yesterday shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves confirmed that Labour will not bring back freedom of movement.

Starmer also angered members of the left, including Diane Abbott, last year over the party’s stance on migrant channel crossings after attacking the government’s incompetence at stopping them rather than defending their right to claim asylum in Britain.

7. Strengthen Workers’ rights and trade unions

Starmer’s relationship with the unions is hardly going well, not least regarding Unite, whose newly-elected Trotskyist leader has already turned against Starmer after he proposed scrapping one member one vote. She may even end up campaigning outside his house after Labour’s finances required the potential sacking of 90 Southside employees…

It wasn’t the first time Unite fell out with Starmer, given they voted to cut their funding to Labour by around £1 million in October.

8. Radical devolution of power, wealth and opportunity

Far from embracing devolution, Sir Keir wrote an op-ed in September 2020 under the heading “we can’t have four nations pulling in different directions”. Many left-wingers will also be dismayed that the Labour Party conference voted against adopting proportional representation in their next manifesto.

9. Equality

While Sir Keir may have adopted the left-wing mantra du jour that it’s wrong to say only women are born with cervixes, he’s continuing to wind up the LGBT+ community by refusing to respond to Rosie Duffield’s supposed transphobia. He infamously described Black Lives Matter as “a moment”, saying the group’s demand to defund the police was “nonsense”, angering the hardest of the hard left.

10. Effective opposition to the Tories

It was telling Starmer left this one until last. Guido will let co-conspirators draw their own conclusion on this pledge…

mdi-timer 28 September 2021 @ 14:50 28 Sep 2021 @ 14:50 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Nandy & Rayner Said to be Readying Leadership Runs

As the voters of Batley and Spen potentially determine the fate of Keir Starmer, The Times and The Sun this morning report multiple sources saying Rayner’s people are putting out feelers for support if she takes a tilt at a run for leader. The other candidate reportedly mulling over her chances is Lisa Nandy, who will undoubtedly have another run at the leadership. Let’s not forget that Yvette Cooper has widespread PLP support, if not actual membership support, which might temper her ambitions…

mdi-timer 1 July 2021 @ 09:31 1 Jul 2021 @ 09:31 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Sadiq’s Leadership Manoeuvres in Yorkshire

You’d have expected newly-elected Sadiq Khan’s diary to be pretty full given the problems facing London; unexpectedly, however, the mayor decided to spend today in Yorkshire. Ahead of the visit, he wrote an op-ed in the Yorkshire Post pledging to help heal the north-south divide:

“Contrary to what some people might think, I know that as a Londoner I have a lot in common with people across Yorkshire. Not just a passion for cricket and cups of tea, but things that are much more fundamental – a desire to see the next generation do better than the last, a desire for dignity in old age, and a desire to see decent, secure, well-paid jobs being created for our communities.”

Whilst the crude stereotypes about tea and cricket make Sadiq sound precisely like the alien Londoner he’s trying to avoid, it’s impossible not to question the real motives behind the trip. Visiting a North Yorkshire bus station with Tracy Brabin looks far less about his current job, and much more about future Labour leadership ambitions that would depend on northern support.

The timing comes shortly after his (arguably) biggest rival, Andy Burnham, started a weekly column in the Evening Standard; again, blatantly laying the groundwork for a national leadership attempt post-mayoralty. With Yvette Cooper also refusing to deny leadership ambitions on Sunday, Guido reckons there are more than a few runners and riders secretly hoping Sir Keir loses the Batley & Spen by-election…

mdi-timer 19 May 2021 @ 16:37 19 May 2021 @ 16:37 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Yvette Cooper Evades Question About Labour Leadership Ambitions
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Jon Trickett on Starmer Leadership Challenge: “I Don’t Think we Should Rule it Out”
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