Starmer ran on a platform of uniting all factions of the Labour Party. This was an admirable one in many respects – that it was also the most politically advantageous strategy to have adopted, we will leave to one side for now. Yet as soon as he was leader, the backstabbing by the far left began almost immediately. They weren’t going to let a national crisis stop them from leaking and then shouting as loudly as possible about a report that put all of the blame for the internal anti-Semitism issues down to Blairites trying to smear Corbyn. This was a warning shot to Starmer – if you don’t do exactly as we would like, we will come after you. Soon. Very soon. We are biding our time, in fact, ready to pounce at any moment.
What Starmer should take out of this is that the far left can never, ever be appeased. They are like the hardcore Brexiteers in the Conservative Party – nothing is ever ideologically pure enough for them. They didn’t get the person they thought they could control into the leadership chair and now they are fighting a rearguard action to keep hold of the Labour Party. It doesn’t matter that Starmer put Corbynistas in shadow ministerial roles – as is clear already, they are just going to use these positions to make life difficult for Starmer. Embarrass him and dare him to sack these MPs from their roles so that the far left can then go after Starmer for a “purge”.
He probably has a grand plan for how to handle all this, Starmer. He’s played the politics of this perfectly so far and I wouldn’t put it past him to out-think the collective might of the far left. Yet he must surely know by now that they can never be truly brought over. All right, some of them who were just blowing with the Corbyn smelling wind, fine, but the true believers will never take him as their leader. Corbyn remains the eternal king, now in exile. Long-Bailey, the rightful heir. They will want to undermine Starmer with the membership as much as they possibly can since they are all that matters.
Starmer should change the rules as to how the Labour Party elects leaders as soon as the politics will permit. This may not be for some time. Go back to the thirds methods that existed before Miliband screwed it up. It will be the best way to wipe away the stain of the last ten years of Labour’s dive into incompetence away.
For now, the new Labour leader needs to weather this storm and not do anything drastic. The far left are itching to show he’s a Blairite in soft left clothing. As ever, the balance between not seeming like a neoliberal centrist dad and making the Labour Party electable again is Keir Starmer’s number one challenge. This past week has demonstrated how difficult the far left is going to make that for him.
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: