Shaken & Stirred - Influential Brand Profiling and Positioning

Labour’s problems with Corbynism

Keir Starmer faces a barrage of criticism from the hard left – no matter what he does, according to James Ball.


When an influential party figure resigns in protest early in a new leader’s reign, it can be acutely embarrassing for the incomer. That was the fate that befell Keir Starmer this week, with the departure of Terina Hine as secretary of the Cities of London and Westminster constituency party.

Hine was stinging in her criticism, accusing Starmer of moving Labour “brutally and rapidly” to the right, ditching “environmental commitments” and trade unions, failing to take action over “racist and sexist abuse”, not holding the government to account over coronavirus, and – perhaps most outrageously of all – “wooing so-called ‘liberal conservative’ voters”.

Far from embarrassment, though, Starmer can probably find comfort in the charge sheet compiled against him.

While it still may be possible he is moving the party “brutally and rapidly” to the right, it would be difficult for anyone to evidence this in policy, as he has – sensibly for now – not made policy commitments, four years from a likely election in 2024. His apparent “failing” on environmental commitments was not promising to put a pledge to make the UK carbon-neutral by 2030 into his next manifesto, something he did because – again, not unreasonably – he has noted that Labour lost the 2019 election, and promising to make the country carbon-neutral in just six years may well be outright impossible.

The allegation on tackling “racist and sexist abuse” takes a little more unpicking. Hine was referring to allegations contained in the leaked, unredacted report prepared by Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) – which is conducting its own investigation into alleged anti-Semitism in the party – and which the party decided, on legal advice, not to publish.

The party now faces multiple legal actions from people named in that report, but one of Starmer’s first actions as Labour leader was to launch an independent inquiry, taking in the allegations it contains. Does that not qualify as action?