Keir Starmer is the Leader that Labour Wants
When interviewed by Andrew Marr on BBC TV, Jess Philips was challenged about her long term lack of loyalty towards Jeremy Corbyn and the rest of the Labour leadership.
She seemed nonplussed. What was the point of standing up in front of the country and parroting a party line that she didn’t believe in? This exchange shows why she might not be the current favourite for the post of Labour leader, but she could be the most suitable candidate to regain the trust of the electorate.
The weeks since the last UK election have been marked by an urgent shuffling of position among most political pundits. They now seem to agree that Jeremy Corbyn was never going to win and that they had always foreseen the big upset in December.
The difference with Jess Philips is that she had the integrity to highlight the deficiencies of the Labour position, repeated to her over and over on the doorstep during her campaigning, well in advance of their electoral humiliation.
By contrast to both Jess and the political commentators, Keir Starmer, interviewed on the same show, struggled to distance himself from any of Labour’s disastrous manifesto commitments.
He would have liked a clearer position on Brexit (to back Remain in a further referendum). But he was still proud enough of the other commitments (as one of their principal architects) to insist that the baby shouldn’t be thrown out with the bathwater and that a lot of the nationalisation, as well as tax and spending policies, should be retained.
Jess’s problem is that, while her straight-talking politics are a sure-fire hit with potential Labour voters, they aren’t the people who will elect the next leader.
Instead, Labour activists and paying supporters will decide who succeeds Corbyn. Philips is currently polling at only around 12% within this fairly hard-left caucus and, in particular, doesn’t have the backing of the party’s influential Momentum group.
It is possible that some Labour-affiliated union leaders could come out in support for her. There are still some feet planted firmly on the ground in those quarters. But they are no longer the decisive ally they would once have been.
I firmly expect (and the Conservative Party prays) that Keir Starmer, the Mr Smooth of the Labour left, and top Continuity Corbyn candidate, will win a decisive victory in the coming leadership poll.
But I will always regret that an introspective, metropolitan and dogmatic Labour Party didn’t look out to their lost voters before taking their next step into the political wilderness.
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