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Why some Labour MPs and activists think Keir Starmer is failing as Labour leader – Jonathan Walker



The knives are out for Labour leader Keir Starmer.

Supporters of former leader Jeremy Corbyn have never been a fan of Sir Keir. First, they think he helped cost Labour the last election, by demanding the party support a second Brexit referendum.

While some people think Labour lost in 2019 because Jeremy Corbyn was a bad leader, others think it was Labour’s policy on Brexit that caused problems – and they think Sir Keir, Labour’s Brexit spokesman at the time, is partly to blame.

Second, Corbynites think Sir Keir presented himself as a left-winger during the party’s leadership election, which took place in early 2020, but then moved the party to the right once he became leader.

He pledged to pursue the same types of policies as Mr Corbyn, so it’s said, but broke his promise.

It’s possible that Sir Keir is rather pleased to be criticised by MPs and activists associated with Mr Corbyn. After all, he wants to demonstrate that Labour has changed, and that he’s a different type of leader to his predecessor.

But it’s not just the Labour left that are critical. Colleagues in other parts of the party have begun to express doubts.

It’s said that Sir Keir has failed to “cut through”. In other words, he’s been leader for 10 months now, but a lot of voters still don’t know what he stands for.

Critics also say he’s too ready to express support for the Government, and too slow to highlight Boris Johnson’s mistakes.

Fuel was added to the fire when it emerged Labour was considering whether it could win over voters by appearing more patriotic.

A report – leaked to the media – suggested Labour could regain support from former supporters who switched to the Tories in 2019 by using the Union Jack in its publicity material, supporting veterans and ensuring the leader dresses smartly at war memorials.

The proposals came from outside consultants, who had apparently been recruited to advise the party. They sent the proposals to Labour for the party to consider. So perhaps it’s a little unfair to criticise the Labour leader for the findings.

But it seemed to play into a concern that Sir Keir’s approach is too “managerial” – that his plans for gaining power involve projecting the right image and demonstrating that he’s not Jeremy Corbyn, rather than setting out policies to differentiate his party from the Conservatives.

Being leader of the opposition wouldn’t be easy for anyone at this moment in time. But some Labour MPs feel the Government has clearly made mistakes, leading to unnecessary deaths and damage to the economy, and wonder why their leader isn’t saying so more vocally.





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