Starmer must make peace with the left.
If he really cares about electability, Labour’s leader will work with, not against, the left of his party.
Today leftwing members of the NEC had a mass *virtual* walkout in protest of the actions taken of late by the leadership, and the imposition of a heavily pro Starmer individual as chair of the body. These are not children throwing their toys out of the pram, they’re people with a mandate to be there from the Labour membership, and they intend to make their voices heard. Quite right too.
The ball is very much in Starmer’s court here. Does he want to run a Labour party fit for purpose and true to its founding principles or an unelectable version of the Democrats?
From FBPE types there are already mutters of “let’s let the unions pull funding” or “let’s grow the base of donor support and purge leftist elements of the party” so let’s be clear: if the left is purged, and the unions pull funding, Labour is no longer Labour, and it certainly has no chance of winning any time remotely soon.
Blair’s legacy is a party where the majority of the elected representatives are hostile to the labour movement and to anything to the left of third way corporatism. In other words, people that aren’t Labour.
Here’s the truth, Starmer cannot win an election without the left. The left does the thinking, it has the energy, the base, the excitement, the ideas, and it controls the mass movement infrastructure that has the best chance of mobilising for an electoral victory.
This isn’t the 1980s, and Momentum aren’t Militant, such a comparison is politically illiterate. Indeed, those that are fantasising about some Kinnockesque purge of leftists should remember the dynamics couldn’t be more different, and it won’t play out how they think.
I reiterate, and this is what I’ve been saying since chaos ensued: the left will act constructively if Starmer works with them rather than against them. Right now the actions are overtly hostile.
Even at the lowest ebb of Corbyn’s popularity, 16% approved of the job, and 33% voted Labour. That’s the core base, if you think you can win without 20% of the vote that’ll desert you you’re delusional.
The left aren’t irrelevant enough to purge; if Starmer keeps attacking us he kills his chances politically, and we’ll still be standing. Solidarity with those members of the NEC.