Keir Starmer poised for ‘endless battle with radical Left’ as Labour crisis deepens | UK | News (Reports)

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Lisa Nandy grilled by Andrew Marr over ‘divided’ Labour Party

Leftwing Labour MPs piled the pressure on Sir Keir after they accused him of “undermining party democracy” and urged him to restore the whip to former leader Jeremy Corbyn. They also demanded he lift the current ban on local parties discussing Mr Corbyn’s case in relation to the damning Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report which found that, under his leadership, Labour had been responsible for “unlawful” harassment and discrimination of Jewish people. In a strongly worded statement, some of the party’s biggest Corbynite MPs and affiliates warned Sir Keir not to “demoralise and undermine” Labour’s membership ahead of what are considered crucial local elections next year.

Fierce opposition to Sir Keir has been a common theme since he won the leadership in April this year.

Immediately pushing for a party rebrand following Mr Corbyn’s woeful 2019 election – Labour’s worst since 1935 – Sir Keir said the outfit was under “new management”.

A shadow cabinet overhaul saw the introduction of old and new faces, mostly those who lean to the centre of the party, including former leader Ed Miliband.

And while opposition to Sir Keir may appear a result of his vision alone, Dr Jonathan Mellon, a senior politics researcher and co-director of the British Election Study (BES) at the University of Manchester, told Express.co.uk, that the party will always have a “radical” element that will oppose any inkling of a return to the days of New Labour.

Keir Starmer: The Labour leader is facing fierce opposition from Corbynite members of his cabinet

Keir Starmer: The Labour leader is facing fierce opposition from Corbynite members of his cabinet (Image: GETTY)

Jeremy Corbyn: Many members and MPs are calling for the whip to be restored to the former leader

Jeremy Corbyn: Many members and MPs are calling for the whip to be restored to the former leader (Image: GETTY)

He explained: “Realistically, Labour’s always going to have a more radical Left wing within it, how much policy power they have is open to debate and is being debated right now.

“It’s hard to know exactly how it will pan out.

“A lot of that is going to come down to how much Starmer wants to distance himself from the old leadership in order to appeal to people who are turned off by it, while risking alienating people in the party.”

Despite the fact that Sir Keir appears to be currently “alienating” those Corbynite MPs, Dr Mellon said they will likely support him.

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Working class: Starmer in Wakefield this week; a seat Labour lost for the first time since 1932

Working class: Starmer in Wakefield this week; a seat Labour lost for the first time since 1932 (Image: GETTY)

He said: “The ideal thing would be, yes, there will be some disgruntled socialist leaning voters, but they won’t really have any other options to go to so they’ll end up supporting Labour in an election, even if they’re not particularly happy with the Labour leadership.”

This is currently difficult to see, however, with the likes of Unite the Union’s General Secretary, Len McCluskey, refusing to concede any ground to the Labour leader.

Mr McCluksey was one of a number of names who signed the letter urging Sir Keir to reinstate the whip to Mr Corbyn.

Before this, the trade union leader had already moved to try and strip the new leader of resources after he retracted 10 percent of the party’s funding in October, amounting to around £150,000.

He warned that “it would be a mistake if anybody took Unite for granted” – a nod to Unite being the Labour Party’s biggest single donor.

Sir Keir faced yet more pressure after he failed to challenge a “racist conspiracy theory” during his LBC slot “Call Keir”.

It came as a caller said her husband had joined the booing of Millwall players for taking a knee in a football match earlier this month, and asked whether white people should “also start playing identity politics now before they become a minority themselves by 2066”.

While he said he didn’t “think it was right to boo”, Sir Keir never addressed the caller’s pushing of the so-called “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory.

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Antisemitism: Corbyn was initially suspended from the party following the release of the EHRC report

Antisemitism: Corbyn was initially suspended from the party following the release of the EHRC report (Image: GETTY)

Clive Lewis: 'Corbyn's heir' has hit-out at Starmer over his LBC call-in slot

Clive Lewis: ‘Corbyn’s heir’ has hit-out at Starmer over his LBC call-in slot (Image: GETTY)

The immediate effects were felt after a number of prominent Labour MPs called Sir Keir out for mishandling the debacle.

Zara Sultana, who has called for Mr Corbyn to have the whip restored, said: “When white supremacist conspiracy theories and racist undemocratic laws are promoted on national radio, they must be called out and vigorously challenged.”

Clive Lewis, the MP for Norwich South, who has been described as the “natural heir to Corbyn”, said: “For neither the presenter nor Keir to, at the very least, explore further, unpack and robustly challenge such an extreme statement is frankly appalling.”

Sir Keir appears to be struggling to rekindle Labour’s relations with minorities following the antisemitism fiasco.

General election: It's just over a year since Labour suffered its worst election defeat since 1935

General election: It’s just over a year since Labour suffered its worst election defeat since 1935 (Image: Express Newspapers)

He was this month urged to return money from a party donor whose tweets have been condemned by Muslim groups as Islamophobic.

This was weeks after a survey of Muslim supporters found a lack of trust in the leadership.

Following the LBC incident, Labour scrambled to issue a statement assuring that Sir Keir “completely rejects the racist conspiracy theory that this caller espoused,” and that under his leadership, “the Labour Party stands for a patriotism that is built on the total inclusion of Brits from all ethnic backgrounds”.

The statement said: “Keir gave a robust defence of sportspeople taking the knee to shine a light on the deep racial inequalities and injustices against black, Asian and minority ethnic people that exist in our society.”

Radical Left: Starmer is facing a great push against the party's radical Left

Radical Left: Starmer is facing a great push against the party’s radical Left (Image: GETTY)

Yet while the party line appears to want to appease this, others within Labour are calling for Sir Keir to abandon the so-called “woke” values and movements adopted under Mr Corbyn.

Paul Embery, a leading trade unionist and “Blue Labour” member, told Express.co.uk that the only way Sir Keir and Labour will win back power is if they move away from “woke culture” and adopt “patriotism and traditional values”.

This, he said, will ensure that the party’s traditional working class voter base feels it has a voice in Labour.

Much of Labour’s “Red Wall” – north of England, working class communities – fell in 2019 to Boris Johnson’s Conservatives.

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