Monday, 23 November 2020

Has Starmer Ended His Own Career?

When the internal Labour report was leaked to the public, the new party leader Sir Keir Starmer was accused of attempting a cover up. Even worse, he was accused of promoting some of those named in the report - which let's not forget shows evidence of horrendous behaviour - from the racist bullying of MPs to the deliberate sabotage of general elections. 

If the accusations are true, then they are truly damning. 

Not only would the culprits have to face immediate expulsion but possibly even prosecution. And if the Labour leader is as close to the suspects as he appears to be, he would surely have to resign.

The anger from the Labour membership is palpable. When Starmer announced an investigation into the investigation(!), eyeballs rolled and understandably so. Surely, the appointment of Martin Forde QC was an attempted stitch-up, wasn't it? Not so fast...

A party insider has stated to The Guardian, the ongoing investigation is proving a "nightmare" and the Forde team want to "look into everything". It would seem the promised independent investigation is turning out to be just that. And it would also seem the last thing those suspected of wrongdoing want is proper scrutiny. What if the Labour leaks report is only the tip of the iceberg?

The recent EHRC report into Labour antisemitism was labelled a stitch-up by the left, a politicised attempt to bring Corbyn down. But despite hysteria from the mainstream media, it's reasonable to say nothing in the report was particularly damning of Corbyn himself. Indeed, it showed the only times his team were guilty of wrongdoing was when they interfered to speed up and improve processes. 

It would seem most of the wrongdoing arose when Labour had a general secretary who was openly hostile to Corbyn in Iain McNicol. You could make a convincing argument, based on the EHRC report, that failings on antisemitism came from the hard right of the party, not the left. Good luck trying to find anyone who would point that out in the mainstream media.

So the EHRC report failed to destroy Corbyn as the Starmerists hoped. But the Forde investigation may well destroy Starmer.

Let's consider what is taking place here.

We have Starmer facing the possibility of legal action from all angles. Some of those named in the Labour leaks report were given six-figure compensation packages, but many other former staff members are said to be considering legal action too.

We also have Corbyn (and others supportive of him) considering legal action, based on the withdrawal of the whip and the outrageous shenanigans surrounding Labour leaks. It's worth pointing out, Starmer's action following Corbyn's reinstatement by the NEC is probably unlawful and flies in the face of the EHRC report.

Multiple court cases could seriously impact Labour's finances, especially if the party were to lose. When you combine this possibility with a huge reduction in membership numbers (meaning a huge drop in income), and the recent reduction in funding from Unite, things are looking rather grim. Whichever way Starmer goes next, he is looking at potential court action from one or both sides. The last thing Starmer needs is an independent report (which he arranged) which shows him and his people in a bad light.

And look at the huge outpouring of public support on Twitter for Jeremy Corbyn last night. We're talking well in excess of 100,000 tweets using the #WeSupportCorbyn hashtag.

The Labour left are clearly mad at Starmer. But so too are the Labour hard right. They've been expressing their sheer disgust that he is too lenient on Corbyn and the Labour left in their view! They want an all-out purge and they're certainly not being quiet about it. The Labour Party is at civil war.

Starmer made the mistake of siding with the Labour hard right under the belief this would make things easier for him. What he failed to understand is the hard right didn't want a leader who would placate them. They wanted a leader who they could control, a leader who would destroy the left at all costs. These people were happy to see Labour lose the last two general elections and couldn't give a damn if Labour loses the next one.

Starmer, in his naivety, thought the right could be placated, and that if he simply got rid of Corbyn, the left would get back into their box. He ran as the "unity candidate" and he really thought he could create the illusion of party unity with this McCarthyite nonsense. This shows him to be a staggeringly inept political operator. 

Starmer has already burnt his bridges with the left, but he can never satiate the bloodlust of the right, because Labour's union backers won't allow him to. (Certainly not without an almighty fight.) Starmer could soon be without support from his faction of the party and I'm hearing murmurings it may be them who ultimately push him out. 

While Starmer may have some support from those who neither consider themselves on the left or right of the party, they can't have failed to notice Labour's awful polling. The man who promised to be 20 points ahead is trailing behind the worst government in living memory. It seems voters want more than Brylcreem and a Hugo Boss suit from a leader. They want representation.

The likes of Len McCluskey and Howard Beckett have not been pulling any punches in their condemnations of the current leader, and both have demanded the whip be restored to Corbyn. Not only is Starmer running the risk of unions cutting funding from Labour, but if he stays on this path, some unions may disaffiliate altogether. 

What's more likely is the unions will push for a leadership challenge in 2021, and it will be interesting to see which candidate they'd back. The smart money would be on deputy leader Angela Rayner, but she may struggle to win the support she'd need from the left, because many feel betrayed by her recent criticisms of Corbyn. Maybe a contender more appealing to the left will emerge in time. We shall see...

And let's not forget, the conclusion of the Forde inquiry will possibly implicate those staff and MPs Starmer has surrounded himself with. If that happens, we might not need a leadership challenge in 2021 after all. Starmer, having lost the support of both the left and right, might be forced to resign. 

I'm told internal Whatsapp messages, which are yet to be made public, would show Starmer has lied to the public about Corbyn's suspension and that his team helped word the controversial Facebook post. If my source turns out to be correct, it would seem Starmer has checkmated himself.

This could turn out to be one shortlived leadership.


Since this article was published, it has emerged Starmer liked a Twitter thread in 2018 which suggested the scale of antisemitism within Labour was greatly exaggerated for political purposes. Starmer has recently said anyone who believes this, i.e., Jeremy Corbyn, is "part of the problem". It looks the Keith may well need to suspend himself now. Oops.

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