Wednesday, 16 Jun 2021

Angela Rayner and Keir Starmer’s bitter feud unveiled: ‘Unceasing tension’

Angela Rayner leadership potential weighed up by Labour MP

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Labour’s deputy leader and leader are entangled in a bitter feud while the party endures an ongoing and endless battle, was told. It comes as the outfit hit a new low this week after a poll found it to be behind the Conservatives by 18 points. Sir Keir was also publicly accused by one of his MPs of lacking substance and being “invisible” as Labour continued to struggle to recover from a number of drubbings at England’s local elections.

While many of his more left-leaning MPs have been quick to criticise him, it appears that Labour top brass are also at odds with their leader.

Political scientist Richard Wyn Jones is under no illusion that Sir Keir and Ms Rayner are locked in a battle similar to that of their predecessors Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson.

Mr Corbyn and Mr Watson’s relationship eventually ended in the deputy leader leaving his post ahead of the 2019 general election.

When asked if there was a feud going on at the top of the party, Mr Wyn Jones said: “Yes.

“There is this almost unceasing battle within the Labour Party between left and right, and the dramatis personae change.

“But that is an unceasing tension within Labour, and what seems to be giving it added spice is that a lot of people on the soft left supported Starmer thinking he would bring more discipline and more order but retain some of the policies they thought were best under what they associated with Corbyn; but they wanted him to get rid of the chaos and the stuff they disapproved of.

“But now, rightly or wrongly, people feel they’ve been betrayed by Starmer, so it’s an extra element in this unending conflict within Labour.”

Ms Rayner, in an interview following the election results, made it clear who she believed was at fault for the countless councils lost in addition to the seat of Hartlepool.

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She told the BBC that people “on the doorstep didn’t know what Keir Starmer stood for”.

This would have been only shortly after after Sir Keir sacked her as party Chair, as well as Labour’s campaign coordinator.

However, she added that she believed in him “100 percent because I wouldn’t still be working with him if I didn’t”.

She added that the party had to “connect with voters we’ve lost”.

Sir Keir has since vowed an all-new Labour manifesto that promises to look forward as opposed to backwards in its policies.

However, Peter Mandelson, the former Hartlepool MP who appeared during Sir Keir’s announcement, said Labour needed to start listening more closely to those who had won elections for the party, rather than seeing the Tony Blair years as an “embarrassing aunt”.


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Yet, during a Q&A session at an event hosted by the centre-left think tank Progressive Britain, Sir Keir remained steadfast in his opinion.

He said his focus would be Labour’s economic offer, but that it would be future facing rather than taking lessons from either Mr Corbyn or Mr Blair.

Sir Keir continued: “We can’t hug someone from the past, some historical figure, and say all we need is X.

“We’ve got to do it, the hard work is on us.”

Yet, while he moves to conjure up solidarity within the party, dissidents abound.

Ian Lavery, the Corbynite MP speaking to Owen Jones last week, appeared to question Sir Keir’s leadership.

He asked: “Who on earth is running the Labour Party at this moment in time?

“You’ve got to question: is it Keir? Is it the people in his offices at LOTO? Is it Mandelson? Is it Blair?”

Talking about the Hartlepool by-election, he said activists sent there “were frightened to knock on doors because they weren’t sure what we actually stood for anymore,” an approach he said would “never, ever” lead to power.

Mr Lavery continued: “A lot of people feel really let down. People are saying what on earth do we stand for, what does Keir stand for?”

He went on to advise a shift back to the left as promised during Labour’s leadership elections last year.

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