More in-fighting has broken out within the Labour Party, following Sir Keir Starmer’s decision to sack deputy leader Angela Rayner from high profile roles as party chair and campaigns coordinator after abysmal results in Thursday’s national elections.
The party were beaten in traditionally red Hartlepool as Boris Johnson pulled off an electoral hat trick by also extending leads in the major mayoralities of Tees Valley and the West Midlands.
At the time of writing, Labour had lost 292 councillors in England with 130 of 143 councils having declared, with the Conservatives picking up 237 seats on the right and the Greens hoovering up 70 seats on the left.
A party source said: “Keir said he was taking full responsibility for the result of the elections – and he said we need to change.
“That means change how we run our campaigns in the future. Angela will continue to play a senior role in Keir’s team.”
But despite diplomatic public language from the Starmer camp, the decision has sparked furious backlash from the left-wing of the party. Jeremy Corbyn’s former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has said that Starmer is “scapegoating everyone apart from himself.”
“This isn’t leadership it’s a cowardly avoidance of responsibility” said the veteran left-winger.
His comments echo the frustrations of a number of Labour left-wingers who take Starmer’s electoral woes as a vindication of the approach taken by two-time election loser Jeremy Corbyn.
Calling for a return to a Corbynite political vision, Corbyn’s former Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott has said: “Our policies were extremely popular in 2017 and 2019. Jeremy Corbyn was defeated by personal attacks. Our policies were a point of strength and remain so.”
She also said, before Rayner’s sacking: “Changes of personnel are the first resort of those who refuse to discuss the issues. What we need now is not ill-considered changes of personnel, not more expulsions or exclusions, but a change of political strategy.”
Rayner has embarrassed herself with a number of prominent gaffes in recent months. This site reported on an attack she launched against the Conservative Hartlepool candidate’s “tax haven” past a fortnight ago, which backfired spectacularly when it emerged that Jill Mortimer’s husband had been working as a regulator in the Cayman Islands.
She was also raked over the coals for boasting that the election of Anas Sarwar as Scottish Labour leader marked the “first ever ethnic minority leader of a political party anywhere in the UK” – ignoring a long history of high-profile Jewish participation in British politics.