The Labour Party leadership contest was set to finally end this Thursday with the result to be announced on Saturday.
Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, looked on course to win after campaigning on a promise to unite Labour’s left with the right.
He promised to continue the legacy of Jeremy Corbyn’s left wing leadership, while making the party appear more respectable and acceptable to the right.
His apparent popularity is a sign that many party members have been pulled by the argument that Labour lost the 2019 general
election because it was too left wing.
Starmer says that under his leadership, Labour would remain an anti-austerity party—but has refused to say he would keep the radical policies in the 2019 manifesto.
He also joined in with the attempt by right wing MPs to remove Corbyn in 2016, resigning his shadow
cabinet post to pressure him to resign.
And he led the way in pushing Labour towards adopting a policy of reversing the EU referendum result—which was behind Labour’s disastrous result in the 2019 general election.
Starmer is backed by right wing MPs who openly want to drag the party back to the right—and reportedly plans to bring some of them into his shadow cabinet.
Rachel Reeves is reported to be Starmer’s choice for shadow chancellor.
She has previously implied that immigration could cause race riots, and has said Labour should be “tougher” on benefit claimants.
Starmer is also certain to launch a witch hunt against the left under the guise of building unity.
He will reportedly demand that general secretary Jenny Formby—an ally of Corbyn—resigns because she didn’t rush to expel left wing members accused of antisemitism.
One Corbyn aide described Starmer’s plans as a “scorched earth” policy against the left.
The left’s candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey is widely seen as Corbyn’s successor.
But she also shows signs of retreating from the more radical aspects of Corbyn’s leadership.
She has run a more polished, conventional leadership campaign, without the mass rallies that defined Corbyn’s.
And she backs Angela Rayner to be her deputy leader rather than the left wing candidate Richard Burgon.
She’s also backed rules that would allow left wing activists to be purged from Labour for anything more than the mildest criticism of Israel.
Labour lost the general election partly because its leadership under Corbyn consistently conceded to right wing arguments, allowing them to take hold and undermine him.
Now the pressures of “unity” and “electability” look set to drag the party even further to the right.