18 December 2019 16:45
Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer could be throwing his hat in the ring (Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire) Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer has said he is 'seriously considering' making a bid to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. Current leader Mr Corbyn is expected to resign after Labour suffered its worst General Election result since 1935, and said after the party's defeat that he will not lead Labour in any future general election campaign. In an interview with The Guardian, the Remain-backing Sir Keir hinted at his desire to run in the Labour leadership race and urged the party to not stray 'too far from its values' and to continue a radical stance. 'When I was DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions], everyone called me director and I said, "Please don't call me director, call me Keir Starmer." It's a very similar battle now.' He said there has been 'too much factionalism' in the party and called for Labour to return to being a 'broad church' as he praised Corbyn-backing Momentum activists and supporters of former leader Tony Blair. As for his own personal politics, Sir Keir added: 'I don't think anybody would call me a Corbynista, but I'm a socialist.' At the time of writing, Sir Keir is the only man who is widely tipped to make a bid to be Labour leader and is likely to face a number of candidates vying to be the first woman to lead the party.
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey is being viewed as the continuity candidate to resume Mr Corbyn's style of left-wing politics, while high-profile backbencher Jess Philips said in her acceptance speech after the election that she was ready to 'take a role' to bring the party back to its traditional heartlands – although she didn't say outright that she desired to be the new leader of the party. On Wednesday morning, Sir Keir told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that the election result was 'devastating for millions of people who desperately needed change and are not going to get it'. MORE: Jeremy Corbyn apologises to Labour MPs but vows to stay on until there's a new leader Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry has become the first MP to officially enter the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. Writing in the Guardian, she said the next leader needed to have "the political nous and strategic vision to reunite our party". Sir Keir Starmer, Yvette Cooper, Lisa Nandy have said they are also considering standing in the election.
Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon, a close ally of Mr Corbyn, said he welcomed the fact Ms Thornberry had entered the race, although he said he would prefer shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey to become leader. He told BBC 2's Politics Live it was important that someone "from the left of the Labour party", who had backed Mr Corbyn's original leadership bid, should be among the list of leadership contenders. Meanwhile, Sir Keir Starmer has told the BBC he is "seriously considering" putting himself forward for the Labour leadership. The shadow Brexit secretary said Labour has "a mountain to climb" following its general election defeat. Another potential contender Yvette Cooper, who lost to Mr Corbyn in the 2015 Labour leadership contest, said she would "decide over Christmas" about whether to stand.
She told Radio 4's Today programme that Labour had "a long road to travel," adding that the party needed to tackle anti-Semitism, restore "kindness to our politics" and be more "inclusive". Reflecting on Labour's defeat, Sir Keir - who was calling for another EU referendum - said the party had failed to "knock back" the Conservatives' "get Brexit done" slogan. Looking to the party's future, he said: "What Corbyn bought to the Labour party was a change of emphasis - radicalism that really matters - we need to build on that, not oversteer and go back to a bygone age." Asked whether he considered himself to be a Corbynite, Sir Keir said: "I don't need someone else's name tattooed on my head to make decisions." However Sir Keir said the Labour leader needed to "be able to talk to everyone" in the UK. He's running: Keir Starmer has told the Guardian he is "seriously considering" running for the Labour leadership (this is code for "yes, I am running, but I don't want to look like I'm jumping the gun") in a wide-ranging interview. His pitch: that Labour should have done more to tackle anti-Semitism and been a broader church (this is a polite way of saying "wow, there was a lot of dead wood in the shadow cabinet"), but that the party "shouldn't oversteer", adding that "the case for a bold and radical Labour government is as strong now as it was last Thursday". That's exactly where, if you're Starmer, you want the leadership race to be fought: a contest about the qualities of the candidate rather than about the party platform. The argument isn't guaranteed to work but if you asked me to script the ideal roll-out for Starmer, you couldn't do better than this interview, which comes after two northern Labour women – Jenny Chapman, who lost her seat on Thursday, and Bridget Philipson, who saw her majority fall – both published versions of the same argument: that what happened last week wasn't because Jeremy Corbyn was a man with a north London constituency. That said, Starmer's argument and roll-out is exactly where he needs to be pitching himself if he has any hope of winning this contest.