Since coming to power in April this year, Sir Keir has sought to rid the Labour Party of its return to socialism. For the past five years, Labour, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, transformed from a moderate centre-left opposition to a hard-line socialist outfit. The move appeared to work for the party in the 2017 general election when Mr Corbyn came neck and neck with then Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May, but failed miserably two years later where Labour suffered its worst election defeat since 1935.
Remnants of Mr Corbyn’s left-wing faction have since pushed back against Sir Keir’s attempts at implementing change in the party.
Today, a group of Corbynite Labour MPs announced they had established their own policy research operation amid growing left-wing opposition to, and discontent with, Sir Keir.
Yet, Steven Fielding, Professor of Political History at the University of Nottingham who specialises in the politics of the Labour Party, told Express.co.uk left-wing factions of the party need not worry.
He said Sir Keir was less a modern-day Tony Blair – the Labour leader who dominated Britain’s political landscape with his ‘New Labour’ movement at the turn of the century – and more a “radical Ed Miliband”, who led the party on an unsuccessful semi-socialist manifesto in 2015.
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Talking about how Sir Keir might win a 2024 election, and what elements of Mr Corbyn’s policies he might keep, Professor Fielding said: “The question is how far Starmer wants to go away from the 2019 manifesto.
“Maybe in the COVID situation with an economy that needs all kinds of stuff and interventions – one’s that Boris Johnson’s implementing that he might not want to – there could be a case for saying ‘look, out of all of this, we actually do need quite a lot of Government intervention; we do need to tax the rich more.’
“Starmer has said he’s going to hold true to imposing more tax on the top five percent earners.
“So there are things in that manifesto (Mr Corbyn’s) that Starmer himself actually likes.
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“The idea that he’s a Blairite is just nonsense.
“He’s more like an Ed Miliband – probably a slightly more radical Ed Miliband at that.
“Because of the COVID context it might be that those 2019 policies get greater favour, and all you do need is a leader who is competent and who has got certain qualities that give people confidence in him, and talks about patriotism, and that he’s willing to back the police, law and order.
“These things, combined with an effort to also increase taxation, and take the public utilities into the hands of the people or Government – that could be a popular approach.”
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Professor Fielding previously described Sir Keir as Labour’s “continuity Miliband”.
It appears Sir Keir has committed himself and the party to carrying on at least some elements of the legacy left by Mr Corbyn.
His 2020 policies mirror many of those contained in the party’s 2019 election manifesto: higher taxes on the wealthy, the abolition of tuition fees, the “common ownership” of rail, mail, energy and water, and ending NHS outsourcing.
However, left-wing and traditional socialist factions, such as the unions, appear discontent with Sir Keir’s approach.
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Earlier this month, Unite the Union General Secretary Len McCluskey caused a furore after he tightened his fist, reducing Labour’s funding by 10 percent.
Initial reports suggested this amounted to £1million of membership fees, however he later revealed the figure to be more in the region of £150,000.
Unite is Labour’s biggest single donor.
It has given the party more than £7million since the start of 2019, according to Electoral Commission records.
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The move was largely interpreted as being a reaction to Sir Keir’s decision to pay substantial damages to former Labour employees turned whistleblowers who appeared in a Panorama documentary about antisemitism in the party last year.
As Sir Keir agreed to payout an estimated £370,000 in damages to former employees, Mr McCluskey branded the move as an “abuse of members’ money”.
He suggested another cut could be enforced should the party’s course change too drastically.
Allies of Mr McCluskey have accused Sir Keir and his inner circle of not “listening” to the party’s left-wing, according to BBC Newsnight.