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Murray says Rayner “has not been sacked” but “promoted” – LabourList

Sophy Ridge on Sunday

Shadow Scotland Secretary Ian Murray insisted that Angela Rayner “has not been sacked” this morning. It was confirmed on Saturday that Rayner had been sacked as party chair and national campaign coordinator, but Murray argued that she has been offered a “significant promotion which takes her from the back office to the front”.

  • On the election results: “We’ve had a very mixed set of results over the last few days. We’ve won our mayoralties back in Merseyside, in Manchester, Bristol, the West of England and also in places like Cambridgeshire and Peterborough we won from the Conservatives. We won a lot of seats from the councils in what you might call the ‘Blue Wall’.”
  • On the ‘Red Wall’: “We’ve still got a problem in the Red Wall and it’s too soon after the triple problem that we’ve had of the most dreadful general election result, we’ve had the Covid pandemic and we’ve had a post-Brexit Britain.”
  • On Labour: “Voters are willing to listen to the Labour Party again but they’re just not making that step yet to vote for us. And that’s why Keir Starmer has to speed up the reforms in the party. Speed up the policy-making process.”
  • On the impact of Covid: “All of the oxygen of politics in this country has rightly been taking up with coping with this pandemic… Now that we’re coming out of that it gives Keir a really good chance now to supercharge what he wants to do.”
  • On where Labour goes now: “We’ve got a lot of listening to do. We’ve got a lot of speeding up of those reforms to do. We’ve got a lot of speeding up of the policy process to talk to those things that the public has been telling us that they want the Labour Party to talk about: jobs; our public services; the future of our economy; post-Brexit Britain; the climate.”
  • Put to him that his is downplaying the defeats: “Nobody is doing down the fact that we’ve had a disastrous set of election results in some parts of the country but we also have had some very good election results in other parts.”
  • He added: “You can’t talk about Hartlepool without talking about Wales, you can’t talk about the fact that we’re doing badly in Sunderland without talking about the fact that we’ve won the West of England.”
  • On Starmer: “He’s taken full responsibility and he’s going to speed up the reforms in terms of both the party and in terms of the country and we look forward to what’s going to happen in the months ahead. We’ve got a huge job to do.”
  • On Rayner: “Rayner has not been sacked… [She] has been offered a significant promotion to take her from the back office of the Labour Party where she’s running elections to the front office where’s she’s talking to the country.”
  • He added: “She’s the deputy leader of the party. She’ll take a significant role in shadow cabinet, as I understand it, although I don’t know the position. She’s been offered a significant promotion.”
  • On Starmer’s comments that he would take “responsibility” for the election: “The leader of the Labour Party, if he takes responsibility for the election, therefore takes responsibility for reshuffling his team.”
  • On a Scottish independence referendum: “If [Nicola Sturgeon] brings a bill to parliament about a referendum when she promised [the election] would be about Covid recovery, we will certainly not support that.”

Labour MP Diane Abbott described the removal of Angela Rayner as Labour Party chair and national campaign coordinator as “baffling”. She also called on Starmer to unify the party and build on the 2019 general election manifesto policies.

  • On the election results: “In many ways they’re disappointing results, although we did have very good results in London, and in Wales, and in Manchester, so it’s not a uniform picture but certainly some results were disappointing.”
  • On Starmer: “When Keir Starmer was first elected as leader, he talked about unifying the party and he talked about not oversteering away from the policies under Jeremy Corbyn. He needs to go back to that way of thinking.”
  • She added: “Sacking Angela Rayner, for instance, is not a unifying thing to do. I think we need to be building on the policies in the 2019 manifesto, many of which were forward-thinking and popular.”
  • Put to her that Corbyn is to blame for the Hartlepool defeat: “We won Hartlepool twice under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership… I mean, you can’t say that Jeremy is responsible for the Hartlepool result.”
  • On the Labour leader and the last manifesto: “Starmer needs to go back to what he said when he was elected as leader and he wants to build, yes, on some of the policies that we were talking about in 2019.”
  • On removing Rayner as chair: “It’s baffling why he sacked Angela Rayner. She didn’t take any of the big decisions around Hartlepool and we’ve not heard anywhere in the country they didn’t vote Labour because of Angela Rayner.”
  • On whether Labour is too ‘London-centric’: “I don’t accept that at all… It’s in many ways an artificial distinction between so-called London elites and the rest of the country. What we need to do is bring together Hackney and Hartlepool in a way that speaks to the issues that both types of Labour supporter have.”
  • Asked whether Labour is facing an an “existential” crisis: “Not at all. I’m old enough to remember in the ’80s Eric Hobsbawm wrote a very widely circulated article on the forward march of Labour halted and his thesis was that Labour was in existential crisis. It wasn’t true then and it’s not true now. We need to unify, we need to regroup and we need to move forward.”
  • On whether Starmer should pursue a reshuffle of his top team: “It is a mistake to focus on personalities. We need to get the strategy and the policies right.”
  • On Andy Burnham and his comment that the party should call him if needed: “It’s not for me to dial Andy Burnham’s number but it’s interesting that he is saying that he would pick up the phone to the party leadership.”

The Andrew Marr Show

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar discussed the election results in Holyrood, saying that Labour has made “immense progress” in the last ten weeks. He also argued that Starmer is “absolutely” the right person to lead the UK party.

  • On Rayner: “I’m not in charge of who promotes who and what in Westminster, I’m in charge of the party here in Scotland. But the bottom line is that Angela Rayner is a huge talent. We’re lucky to have her as our deputy leader.”
  • On who is responsible for the election results across the UK: “Different people took different responsibilities – I take responsibility in Scotland, I’m sure Mark Drakeford will take responsibility in Wales.”
  • He added: “Keir Starmer has already said ultimately he takes responsibility in England, but if you look at different parts of England I think you praise Andy Burnham in [Manchester], Sadiq Khan for the campaign in London.”
  • Pressed on whether Rayner should be blamed for poor results in England: “No one person should take the blame… It is a collective effort and we’ve all got to collectively pull this Labour Party together.”
  • On the Scottish results, where Labour lost two seats: “Anyone who’s followed politics closely in Scotland over the last few years will have seen the immense progress we made in the last ten weeks… We’ve got Labour back on the pitch again.”
  • On the UK: “We’ve got a huge task ahead of us to rebuild the Labour Party so we have the opportunity to serve the country that we all love, that what I’m doing in Scotland. I know that’s what Keir is aspiring to do across the rest of the UK.”
  • Asked whether Starmer is the right person to be leader: “Absolutely, and I think that we shouldn’t be having these internal discussions. We can’t look at each other, we’ve got to look outwards and forward-looking across the country.”
  • He added: “I would urge colleagues across the rest of the UK, learn the difficult lessons and from the mistakes we made in Scotland. Don’t pull each other apart.”
  • On “mayhem” in the UK Labour reshuffle: “We have a mountain to climb if we are to elect a Labour government across the UK and we’ve got to take urgent action. I know Angela Rayner is going to be at the heart of that.”

John McDonnell told viewers today that the removal of Rayner as party chair and national campaign coordinator was a “huge mistake”. He said Labour can win the next general election under Starmer but he must “unify the party”.

  • On Rayner: “When the leader of the party says on Friday that he takes full responsibility for the election result in Hartlepool in particular and then scapegoats Angela Rayner, I think many of us feel that was unfair.”
  • On the communication and timing: “What public relations genius thought this was good move on the very day, actually, we were having successes? […] The very day we’re actually recovering a bit and having successes, then they do this.”
  • On Starmer and Labour’s prospects: “Things can turn, the Labour Party can win the next general election of course it can. But what Keir needs to do now is stand by what he said 12 months ago… which is he will unite the party.”
  • On Starmer and Labour policy: “He did say he would build upon the policy framework we set out and he hasn’t. We went into this election with 12 months of a slogan ‘under new leadership’ but with no policy programme whatsoever.”
  • He told Starmer: “I just give these words of advice to Keir. The party was based on solidarity. Injury to one is injury to all. United we stand, divided we fall. And I think at the moment, Keir, particularly those apparatchiks around him and his advisers like Peter Mandelson and others, they’re straining that concept and commitment to solidarity. And in that way unnecessarily dividing the party.”

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