Labour civil war: Starmer warned to brace for ‘all-out assault from embittered radicals’

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The opposition to Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party has sunk into turmoil, with Sir Keir having to fight off anger and frustration at his leadership from radical factions in Labour. Jeremy Corbyn was left humiliated after leading Labour to its worst general election defeat in recent history, handing the Tories a mammoth 80-seat majority in the House of Commons. The crushing defeat forced the Labour leader of five years to step down and be replaced by Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer at the start of April, who immediately vowed to reunite a party that was threatening to completely implode.

But since then, Sir Keir has faced furious criticism from far-left factions of the party around his leadership style and the direction he is trying to take Labour in.

Earlier this month, Jeremy Corbyn-supporting campaign group Momentum accused Labour of trying to destroy far-left elements of the party.

Mr Corbyn and far-left factions of Labour have accused a group within the party of sabotaging a possible victory for him in the 2017 general election.

Trade unions and donors are also showing frustration with Starmer, particularly his recent decision to apologise to whistleblowers appearing on BBC Panorama around claims of anti-Semitism in the party.

The report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) about those allegations and management of them from Mr Corbyn is also due for public release and could blow another huge hole in the party.

John Macdonald, Head of Government Affairs at the Adam Smith Institute think tank, warned Sir Keir to prepare for a possible resurgence of Labour’s radical left as cracks in party unity continue to deepen.

He told Express.co.uk: “Starmer faces the long, arduous and unenviable task of reshaping Labour.

“Even if he makes good progress, defeating a 365 seat strong Tory Government is a long shot.

“If he is to stay in post, he will have steel himself and his supporters against the potential resurgence of the radical left within the Party.

“With the EHRC report potentially in the near future Labour’s deep, barely plastered over divisions are set to be reopened; Starmer should be preparing for an all-out assault from Labour’s embittered radicals.”

Mr Macdonald also warned in its current state, Labour is unelectable and will not be able to form a “competent Government” until Sir Keir is finally able to eradicate the failings of Mr Corbyn from the party.

He told this website: “There are big opportunities for Keir Starmer; the collapse of the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives’ struggle to handle coronavirus could allow him to bolster Labour’s base with soft-left Remainers and swing voters fed up with the Tories.

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“But first he will have to radically re-shape the Party, minimising the influence of Corbynite ideologues who have tarnished Labour’s reputation.

“He must restore it as a party that can represent normal, working people as opposed to the farfetched fringe fantasies of an Islington elite.

“Boris Johnson’s Government has had to deal with unprecedented challenges almost from day one, and has far from a spotless record in dealing with the pandemic.

“Polling indicates the British public have generally been accommodating during this crisis.

“While some would prefer Keir Starmer to be on the offensive in hammering home the Government’s failures at the dispatch box, Corbyn demonstrated that relentless and sensationalist critique of the Tories only further entrenched public dislike of the Labour Party.

“However, it’s important to remember that Labour suffered perhaps the most humiliating defeat in its history last December. There is no possibility it could form a competent Government at this time.

“While some would prefer Keir Starmer to be on the offensive in hammering home the Government’s failures at the dispatch box, Corbyn demonstrated that relentless and sensationalist critique of the Tories only further entrenched public dislike of the Labour Party.

“However, it’s important to remember that Labour suffered perhaps the most humiliating defeat in its history last December. There is no possibility it could form a competent Government at this time.

“Until Starmer can dispel the spectre of Corbyn’s failures, Labour will not likely see a bounce in the polls.

“For the time being, it is prudent for Starmer to consolidate and unify within his own Party rather than attempt to pitch Labour as election ready, especially so far away from the next general election.”

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