William Hallowell: Labour is in disarray, and Starmer’s ‘New Leadership’ is yet to bring new politics

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Source: PA

By William Hallowell.

It was thought that this year’s Labour conference could bring unity and stability to the party, but it is clear that the damaging division and same-old rhetoric have been reconfirmed. The party hasn’t changed.

This year’s Labour Party conference has seen the following: the hard-left Corbyn-loyalist group, Momentum, have kicked up a stink about David Evans being re-elected as the party’s general secretary, and Keir Starmer’s allies have hit out at Momentum for doing so; Evans’ speech was heckled after his rhetorical question: “Everybody remembers why they joined Labour, what was it for you?”, to which audience members chanted: “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn!”; Angela Rayner’s speech consisted of the same-old “one rule for them, another for us” rhetoric, berating Dominic Cummings over the Barnard Castle scandal – not to mention the “scum” remarks; Starmer’s embarrassing backtrack on plans to impose the electoral college voting system after by heavy criticism, and claiming that it’s not right to say that only women have cervixes; and of course, the “too many white men” comments, which have again fanned the flames of Labour’s obsession with propagating Britain’s identity ideology war.

Suffice to say, it has been pandemonium. The Labour Party is in complete disarray and seems the only people that cannot see this is the Labour Party.  

To address the first point, it seems that Momentum have concocted a controversy over the democratic decision to re-elect Evans – a vote ratified by the National Executive Committee with 60% in favour; Momentum claims his  “factional approach” has led the party into “chaos and controversy”. Whether this may or may not be true, a political faction cannot simply protest the outcome of democracy when it disapproves of the result – especially when it is the same faction that argues that Jeremy Corbyn’s ousting was undemocratic, despite having lost two General Elections… which is democracy.

An “ally” of the Labour leader then preceded to hit out at Momentum. They texted: “Momentum actively organised against David, claiming they had a majority of delegates on [the] conference floor. They couldn’t have been more wrong.”

Though this is unsurprising given the ideological differences between Starmer and Momentum, their petty quarrels highlight the division and instabilityof the party leadership; they do not portray the image of a party prepared for power, let alone one who’s leader can get a grip of his own party.

The seeds of disunity are forever being sown, and I reiterate: it seems that the only people who simply cannot see the damaging effect this has on the party are themselves. Labour is ineffectual and has been drastically destabilised.

I wrote on day one of the party conference that Keir Starmer must unify Labour’s various ideological factions in order to be a formidable and credible opposition to the Government, but he is clearly incapable of doing so. It is unhelpful to him that his “allies” choose to retaliate to the demands and protestations of Momentum, who should just be ignored as they serve no purpose other than to undermine his leadership and ideologically oppose him.

The unrelenting Corbyn-loyalists are also a significant threat – which is another issue that Starmer has failed to tackle, and who are committed to undermining his leadership too. It is further evidence of Labour’s deeply-rooted and incurable division – but so long as Corbynism remains so prevalent within the party, Labour will be kept away from power… which is what they deserve, frankly.

It is little short of undemocratic that, even after two election defeats, that his unwavering support will continue to actively campaign against the current Labour leadership. It is kamikazeing the party, and is sure to keep them out of government.

What also doesn’t help Sir Keir Starmer is his deputy, Angela Rayner. Besides the fact that she cannot be trusted because she’ll be ready to battle against his leadership at the first sign that she might actually succeed, her “us versus them” and “one rule for us, another for them” mentality towards the Government is boring, old and hypocritical.

It is, surely, the sign of a dead or dying party when its senior politicians are using eighteen-month-old rhetoric which they believe to be damning political point-scorers. Whilst she might believe that sticking it to Cummings over the Barnard Castle affair might be witty, clever and firing live rounds at the Government, it is actually dull, monotonous and firing no more than blank casings at the former senior advisor who hasn’t had anything to do with the aiding the Government for the last nine months.

It is also incredibly hypocritical that she would take his damning and explosive evidence against the Government at select committees as totally integral and completely truthful, then lambast him over his lack of integrity in breaking his own rules.

Though this sort of amateurish and lazy politics may be popular within Labour’s hardcore supporters, it won’t receive standing ovations from the people they need to win over to succeed in the next General Election – some of which the deputy Labour leader called “scum”, which I addressed recently.

What is also hypocritical is Starmer’s tiring overuse of the “U-turn” criticism aimed at the Government with regards to its various Covid policy lapses – for he himself has committed an embarrassing one. After heavy criticism from various sides of the Labour Party, he has reserved his plans to implement the electoral college voting system for internal Labour elections.

The comment about “too many white men” raising their hands to speak at the conference from an NEC member is also a damning sign of Labour’s ideological direction – not to mention Starmer’s remark suggesting it is incorrect to say only women have cervixes. Starmer has chosen identity politics over class politics, and so have many of his colleagues. So long as Labour continue their obsession with the identity and culture war, its working-class support that it actually has left will defect – and understandably. Despite the loud minority, progressivism simply isn’t popular in Britain, but its biggest advocates (Labour politicians and voters) are too preoccupied sticking their fingers in their ears to notice.

It is safe to say that the Labour Party and its leadership are in complete disarray; and as it stands now, it is not looking as though “things can only get better”. The ‘New Leadership’ Keir Starmer promised has yet to bring new politics to the party, and to Britain.

For more from William Hallowell please follow him on Twitter.

© 2021 William Hallwell

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