IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Labour’s Pandora’s box has been opened

08 January, 2021

‘Sir Keir Starmer has lost the confidence of many people both in the Labour Party and in the wider labour movement’

• I HAVE read several times Neil Kerr’s letter, (Corbyn’s loud-mouthed supporters are damaging Labour, December 18).

I could not find any substance for the points he raised except sarcastic remarks towards Islington Pensioners’ Forum, who do some outstanding campaigning, and ourselves at Islington Trades Union Council, in both our support for Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Kerr may be a cheerleader for Sir Keir Starmer. However he may not know what is actually happening at the moment within the present Labour Party.

So just for the record, here is a recap.

To win the hearts and minds of the membership during the election for leadership, Sir Keir positioned himself as a unity candidate.

He used his track record as a human rights lawyer and pointed out that he had been involved in the McLibel case, this being a significant case in light of recent events.

He ordered MPs to abstain on the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct Bill) – “spycops bill” – which goes against the grain of previous Labour policy and is a betrayal of the fundamental right to justice itself. This, and his abstaining with the Overseas Operations Bill, shows a weakness in taking a principled stand.

In fact in the very short time Sir Keir has been leader of the Labour Party, there have been several upsets, including the sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey from the shadow cabinet, and suspension of both Jeremy Corbyn and many others, including officers of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs).

A letter of protest to the party general secretary David Evans, regarding the current series of suspensions and gagging orders of CLPs, was signed by a staggering 284 chairs and secretaries from 194 CLPs.

Despite Mr Kerr’s belief that “we all need to get behind Sir Keir Starmer”, far from damaging the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn has galvanised a young generation of activists and left a mass membership as a legacy.

This clearly is not appreciated by the current leadership and it is very doubtful if Sir Keir will inspire any generation of activists.

While Mr Kerr may look to Sir Keir’s moral purpose, that he is popular among some of the electorate is only because he fills a void within the Westminster bubble, as Boris Johnson has been an absolute disaster handling the Covid-19 pandemic and handled the United Kingdom’s exit from Europe in such a chaotic way.

Sir Keir so far appears very groomed, able to hold the floor in the House of Commons as if he is in a court room, but he has lost the confidence of many people both in the Labour Party and in the wider labour movement.

Sir Keir and his advisers have opened a Pandora’s box, with tensions that will undoubtedly surface at the Labour conference.

MICK GILGUNN
Chair, Islington
Trades Union Council

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