Diane Abbott has yet again caused headaches for the Labour party leadership with an attack against Keir Starmer’s drive to reform internal elections.
Having campaigned for the leadership on a hard-left platform, Starmer has steadily tried to move to the centre in a bid to make Labour more electable.
Much of his efforts have rung hollow. In February, the former left-wing radical said that “of course” he was patriotic, which he tried to project onto the party as a whole.
His latest move is to shrink the influence of the trade unions and rank and file members, many of whom flocked to Labour in response to Jeremy Corbyn’s stunning leadership victory in 2015.
The reforms would see MPs’ votes heavily weighted, accounting for a third of the total. Under the current system introduced by Ed Miliband, their votes are equal to each member.
Longstanding Corbyn ally, Diane Abbott is furious with the changes, and launched a no holes barred attack against Starmer over Twitter.
“If he is successful in scrapping one person one vote for @UKLabour leadership elections, Keir Starmer is in effect telling party members that they can never have a leader who believes in the things that they believe in,” blasted Abbott.
In an earlier post, she scorned: “Keir Starmer would NEVER have got elected @UKLabour leader if Labour Party members had realised that he planned to take power away from them by scrapping one person one vote.”
In another post, Abbott attacked Starmer’s lack of passion for nationalisation, an impulse suppressed by Tony Blair as he remodelled the party into New Labour in the nineteen-nineties, turning it into an election-winning machine. Impossible to imagine in the twenty-twenties.
Starmer carries more left-wing baggage than Blair and has the likes of Abbott – once a marginal backbencher, now a considerable force in the party having served as Corbyn’s numerically challenged Shadow Home Secretary – to contend with.
In July, Abbott boasted that “Labour is not unionist” just a day after Starmer said he would back Northern Ireland remaining in the UK in any future Irish border poll.
She was then labelled a “source of disunity” in the fight against racism. Conservative commentator, Tim Montgomerie accused her of conflating genuine racism with understandable opposition to the taking of the knee gesture associated with the far-left Black Lives Matter activist group.
Starmer has attempted to balance out his offering to voters. In his interview with ITV yesterday, he appeared to favour the SNP’s policy of letting people found in possession of class A drugs off with just a warning.
Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted in response: “Drugs devastate lives. They ruin communities and tear families apart. Under @Keir_Starmer, @UKLabour is weak on crime and weak on the causes of crime.”