New Worker Banner

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Starmer must go

MANY IN the labour movement questioned whether Sir Keir Starmer was capable of leading Labour when he got the job in the first place. Now there can be no doubt following last week’s disastrous elections that cost Labour 323 council seats, eight councils and the once-safe parliamentary seat of Hartlepool. Even the Blairites who have been covertly advising Starmer over the last year are beginning openly to call him an “interim leader” whilst they scrabble around to find another Blairite clone to replace him.

Under current rules, a Labour leadership election can only be forced if a challenger gets the support of 20 per cent of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), which more or less rules out the Corbynistas. But there’s no shortage of wannabee leaders from the supposed ‘centre’ of the Party who would step eagerly into Starmer’s shoes if the opportunity arose.

Andy Burnham, flushed with victory after trouncing the Tories in the Manchester Mayoral election, once again hints that he’s up for it. “In the distant future, if the party were ever to feel it needed me, well I’m here and they should get in touch,” he says. But Burnham will need to get back into Parliament before he can stand under current Labour Party rules – unless they’re changed. And that’s not impossible given the curious remarks of the Blairite Lord Adonis, who said last week that a future leadership race should not be “restricted to people who are currently members of the House of Commons”.

Rule changes take time. Burnham can afford to wait. Others may not be as patient.

After telling everyone he would take full responsibility for Labour’s setbacks in the polls, Starmer tried to scapegoat his deputy, Angela Rayner. But she turned the tables on him and now her standing in the party has risen despite her apparent demotion. Whether that’s enough to win a future Labour leadership vote is, however, debatable.

The same can be also said of Lisa Nandy, the Shadow Foreign Minister, whose followers are already testing the waters in support of a possible bid for power when Starmer goes.

At the end of the day what Labour needs is a campaign that reflects the unions’ agenda and the demands of the street, and a campaigning leader who can mobilise working people to beat the Tories at the next election. At the moment, Labour has neither.