Monday, 30 Nov 2020

Joe Biden’s victory will not help Keir Starmer as it risks sparking ‘Obama effect’

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Since taking over the Labour Party in April, Sir Keir has been trying to move on from Brexit while distancing himself from previous leader Jeremy Corbyn’s far left. In June, Labour moderates dealt Corbynites a blow, as they installed David Evans, who worked for the party under Tony Blair, as general secretary. The appointment came after an already wide-ranging Shadow Cabinet reshuffle, which saw a string of Corbynite frontbenchers including John McDonnell, Diane Abbott and Richard Burgon, replaced with figures from the party’s soft-left.

Moreover, this month, Sir Keir extraordinarily suspended Mr Corbyn from the party after the former leader’s reaction to a report on antisemitism.

His efforts are already proving to be successful as, at the end of September, the Labour Party registered its first polling lead under Sir Keir.

The Opinium poll for the Observer newspaper put Labour on 42 percent, with the Conservatives on 39 percent.

To make things worse for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the outcome of the US election could also complicate things.

In a recent episode of BBC Newsnight, Labour peer Peter Mandelson said the election of Democratic nominee Mr Biden could help boost Sir Keir’s popularity.

He said: “I think the election of Biden will certainly help and strengthen Keir Starmer and the Labour Party in Britain.

“It is because they are in some respects trying to operate and travel on parallel tracks.

“I think he [Sir Keir] is prepared to make it absolutely clear that he is not going to be the competent face of Corbynism.

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“That project is long gone. It is now behind us.”

In an exclusive interview with, though, former Ukip MP Douglas Carswell rubbished Mr Mandelson’s claims.

He said Mr Biden’s election will merely “excite a number of people who earn their living by writing columns”.

He explained: “It will have very little significance to Starmer’s prospects.

“We know that from what happened with Barack Obama.

“When Obama came over to the UK and threatened to send us to the back of the queue if we voted to leave, it had the precise opposite effect.”

Mr Carswell added: “What is Biden going to come and do to help Starmer in the UK?

“Imagine if he came over and said to people: ‘vote for Starmer’.

“That would not necessarily have any effects.”

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He noted: “Perhaps what it might do is show the gap between what a successful centre leader looks like – Joe Biden – and what we have in this country, Keir Starmer.

“The more voters learn about Starmer the less impressed they will be.”

Mr Biden is now within touching distance of victory over Mr Trump in the US election, having flipped the key states of Michigan and Wisconsin and retained a lead in Arizona – for the time being.

Mr Biden has also taken a narrow lead over Mr Trump in Georgia, a state the US President must win to maintain a pathway to reelection and that no Democrat has carried since 1992.

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