The Leader of the UK’s Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, is catching his breath after an unlikely by-election victory in Batley and Spen with the sister of assassinated MP Jo Cox, Kim Leadbeater, as their candidate.
National nuisance and former Labour and Respect MP, George Galloway, tried to shift the campaign’s debate onto the diabolical leadership of Starmer – particularly highlighting issues such as Kashmir and Palestine to inflame the sense that Labour’s Muslim voter base were being taken for granted by the party’s leadership. A sense that is increasingly correct leaving the 85% of British Muslim voters that voted for Labour in 2017 to consider alternative options.
The run up to the election had been plagued by reports that Labour were set to lose the contest. The local Labour Council, resented by large sections of their own community, were firmly of the position that they’d lose. The polls said the Tories would take the seat and George Galloway said he would eat his hat if they didn’t come third.
Today’s result, clearly, did not meet these predictions – but Labour lost votes leaving their majority down in the hundreds, not the thousands seen in elections post-Jo Cox and under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
Whilst the immediate threat to Starmer’s leadership, even from his top team, that built up prior to the election has been settled for now, the underwhelming majority has added to an extensive list of signs that he is not up to the job of winning a Labour government for all.
In the first half of 2020, Keir Starmer stood for election with ten pledges. The popular policies of Jeremy Corbyn, that mostly gain huge support individually within the public, but with professionalism, electability and a united party.
Since his election, Starmer has led Labour to historic defeats in by-elections and local elections, he’s divided the party with the unprecedented move of suspending a former leader and suspending tens if not hundreds of ordinary members across the country for tabling motions and has backtracked on his weak pledges of his election campaign to replace them with no pledges at all.
Further division has erupted within Starmer’s top team as a rift builds between Starmer and Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, who was seemingly scapegoated – being sacked by him as National Campaign Coordinator after the party’s devastating defeat to the Tories in Hartlepool. Reports emerged in the run up to yesterday’s election that Rayner was scoping a leadership bid if another loss occured.
More concerning however, even than the lies and factional wars, is Starmer’s top team’s willingness to hurl minorities under the bus to save face for their failed political strategy. Senior officials within and supporting the Labour leadership begin to blame, what was believed to be an incoming defeat, on the ‘fact’ Muslim voters are anti-Semitic and homophobic.
This is the last straw for Keir Starmer, or it should be, for when the leader of a party founded to represent the underrepresented turns to fabricating racist narratives to avoid responsibility for the simple fact that they give nobody any reason to vote for them.
Keir Starmer cannot maintain his position for long.