“The previous comments made by some of the individuals on this call are completely unacceptable. These are not people who support the values of the Labour Party. This is being made clear to the Labour MPs who attended the call in the strongest possible terms and they are being reminded of their responsibilities and obligations.”
This was the statement put out by the leader’s office yesterday when an event took place, via Zoom given the confines of the era, organised by an internal Labour grouping calling itself Don’t Leave, Organise. Its ties to the Socialist Campaign Group are difficult to ascertain, as in, why this new grouping was needed given the SCG already existed is unclear. The name is unbelievably telling, nakedly acknowledging that many on the left of Labour will want to leave the party over Starmer becoming leader and are having to be compelled to stay put and fight.
The event’s panel was deliberately provocative; that’s too polite, actually, it was a downright statement of intent. Tony Greenstein, expelled from the party for alleged anti-Semitism; Jackie Walker, expelled for allegedly having said things even Corbyn’s leadership couldn’t live with; several other Labour figures of the left known for their “anti-Zionist” views. Also there was Diane Abbott, who was shadow Home Secretary only a few weeks ago, alongside Bell Ribeiro Addy, MP for Streatham. The presence of the two PLP members was what prompted the tame, guarded statement from the leader’s office.
I probably don’t need to go into huge detail about what was discussed at the event. It was argued that the EHRC had become “weaponised and politicised”; that Ken Livingstone had been “expelled from the party for saying in truth a historical statement”. You know the drill and can guess the rest.
The event, Abbott’s attendance and the leader’s weak response tell the tale of one of the biggest challenges facing Keir Starmer’s leadership. Many have complained about the statement I led the article off with, saying Starmer should be doing much more. Why isn’t Abbott being suspended for a start? It’s because he doesn’t want to start an all out war with the left just yet, one they are using things like this event to ignite. They want the battle because they think it will lead to them getting the Labour party back again. It is, at the very least, the only way it will happen, they do have that much correct.
It is clear the left of Labour want a war with Starmer, one in which everyone loses but the left can at least pick up the pieces afterward. It seems to me they want to destroy Starmer’s leadership and then claim he was Ed Miliband 2.0. They can then pretend it’s 2015 again in 2024 and get one of their own back into the leader’s chair. They’ll tell themselves at that point that having had a Tory government for 20 years will inevitably mean people will vote for a Labour majority, regardless of how loopy left the leader of the party happens to be. This is the world these people live in.
If I was advising Starmer, I wouldn’t know what to tell him to do. When is a good time to start fighting the loony left full on? I really don’t know. All I would tell him is that while going after them full frontal has huge downsides, so does allowing this stuff to go on.
I have a new book out now. It’s called “Politics is Murder” and follows the tale of a woman named Charlotte working at a failing think tank who has got ahead in her career in a novel way – she is a serial killer. One day, the police turn up at her door and tell her she is a suspect in a murder – only thing is, it is one she had nothing to do with. The plot takes in Conservative Party conference, a plot against the Foreign Secretary and some gangsters while Charlotte tries to find out who is trying to frame her for a murder she didn’t commit.
Also: there is a subplot around the government trying to built a stupid bridge, which now seems a charming echo of a more innocent time!
It’s available here: