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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Starmer’s not the one for Labour

by New Worker correspondent

LABOUR PARTY conference closed with Keir Starmer’s call for confidence in Labour, a party “you can trust”, and blaming the fuel crisis and rising prices on the Tory government. Stage-managed standing ovations peppered the Labour leader’s maudlin speech to drown out the heckling from Corbynistas on the floor and maintain a pretence of unity after a gruelling few days that saw the Starmer team rocked by the resignation of the last remaining Corbynista in the Shadow Cabinet and the loss of some key Blairite motions on the conference floor.

Conference voted to back sanctions against Israel over its ‘crime of apartheid’ and delegates overwhelmingly condemned the new British, Australian and American axis in Asia as a “dangerous move which will undermine world peace”, notwithstanding shadow defence secretary John Healey and party leader Keir Starmer’s support for the new AUKUS pact.

Delegates ignored top table advice and voted to raise the minimum wage to £15 per hour and committed Labour to raising statutory sick pay on a show of hands. And although Starmer & Co did manage to steam-roller rule changes to strengthen the grip of the bureaucracy over the party, his attempt to abolish the “one-member, one vote” system for electing the leader fell at the first post when union leaders made it clear that it was unacceptable at a stormy meeting with Starmer on the eve of conference in Brighton.

The unions also forced the Starmer leadership to return to the 2004 “Warwick” agreement and restore the National Policy Forum between them and the Labour leadership to agree on the party’s manifesto before general elections.

much harder

But the “registered supporters” scheme, which allowed people to pay a one-off fee to vote in a Labour leadership election, has been scrapped and future wannabe Labour leaders will now have to secure the support of 20 per cent of the party’s MPs (up from the current 10 per cent) to join in a leadership contest. In the constituencies the threshold for triggering a selection contest has been raised to make grass-roots deselection much harder.

Meanwhile the Bakers’ union has voted to disaffiliate from Labour following moves to expel their president, Ian Hodson, for alleged links to a banned group set up to defend victims of the Starmer purge. The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), which helped found the Labour Party in 1902, has now voted to disaffiliate from the Labour party, accusing Starmer of a “factional internal war”.

Hodson was said to be a supporter of Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW), which was set up in 2017 to campaign against Blairite and Zionist claims of anti-Semitism that were used to undermine support for Jeremy Corbyn and drive out a number of his prominent supporters.

The bakers’ union closed ranks around their leader at an emergency conference this week to vote to break their links with Labour, saying the party has “travelled away” from the aims and hopes of working-class organisations.

The union says Starmer failed to engage with issues such as workers’ wages, the widespread use of foodbanks and for failing to provide leadership amidst the current fuel crisis.

“The decision taken by delegates who predominantly live in what’s regarded as Labour red wall seats shows how far the Labour party has travelled away from the aims and hopes of working class organisations like ours…but instead of concentrating on these issues, we have a factional internal war led by the leadership. We have a real crisis in the country and instead of leadership, the party’s leader chooses to divide the trade unions and the membership by proposing changes to the way elections for his successor will take place.

“We don’t see that as a political party with any expectations of winning an election. It’s just the leader trying to secure the right-wing faction’s chosen successor.”