So, only twenty-four hours since his election as leader of the Labour party, Sir Keir Starmer is bringing in the changes. He started by purging many Corbyn supporters from his first shadow cabinet. Former leadership challenger Lisa Nandy was appointed shadow foreign secretary, while Angela Rayner, who won the deputy leadership, becomes party chairperson. Several Corbyn loyalists either stood down or were sacked.
However, Starmer faces major problems on many fronts. Commentators, particularly those on the political left, weren’t exactly impressed. Leftwingers understandibly criticised the reshuffle, fearing claims that he is planning a wholesale purge of MPs and members who happen to disagree with his political worldview and plan to fight him.
That is just the start of Starmer’s difficulties. He also faces allegations that he won’t do enough to tackle anti-semtism, racial discrimination and political bullying. He is also under pressure to explain claims that he would work alongside prime minister Boris Johnson to form a sort of “government of national unity” to tackle the coronavirus.
There have also been reports of thousands of members and supporters were unable to get their election ballot papers, so they couldn’t cast their vote. The leadership contest was seen by many as both so dull and uninspiring that many of them either decided not to vote or quit the party altogether. As a result, the turnout was well down on the Millband (2010) and two Corbyn (2015 and 2016) contests. As I posted previously, Starmer will probably spend most of his leadership, like Corbyn and Miliband before him, trying to control the party’s huge bureaucracy.
When one sees what is happening inside Labour right now, it’s no wonder the Conservative government, in spite of their poor handling of the coronavirus pandemic, will not have anything to worry about.