Socialist Worker

Keir Starmer’s left wing purge marks further shift to the right

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2764

Keir Starmer hopes Labour’s National Executive Committee will support his expulsion of members of four left wing groups inside the Labour Party.

Keir Starmer hopes Labour’s National Executive Committee will support his expulsion of members of four left wing groups inside the Labour Party. (Pic: Chatham House/Flickr)


After two terrible by-election results in Hartlepool, and Batley and Spen, Keir Starmer is trying desperately to rescue his leadership of the Labour Party by turning further to the right.

Starmer has begun a tour of Britain that involves ­meeting people who’ve stopped voting Labour and nodding along to those who come out with right wing views (see box).

Labour MPs and commentators have convinced ­themselves working class people no longer support Labour because they don’t trust left wing politics.

But years of election results show Labour’s collapse in support began after Tony Blair became leader, and coincided with its assaults on working class living standards.

Now Starmer hopes “listening” exercises will show Labour is paying attention to the “real concerns” of ­working class people.

It’s all backed up with an assault on left wing activists inside the party.

Starmer was set to begin a purge of left wing Labour members as Socialist Worker went to press on Tuesday of this week.

He wanted Labour’s ruling body, the national executive committee, to agree to ban party members from ­supporting four left wing groups. These are Labour Against the Witchhunt and Resist, who say accusations of antisemitism against the left are politically charged.

Batley and Spen by-election spells further disaster for Starmer
Batley and Spen by-election spells further disaster for Starmer
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It also includes Labour in Exile, which includes people expelled from the party, and the Marxist group Socialist Appeal.

An unnamed Labour “source” told the Mirror newspaper that expulsions are to “get the party back into the decent mainstream of Labour values.” They added, “We need to be fighting to form the next government and that means cleaning out the stable.”

In truth, the four small groups have limited influence inside the Labour Party.

But Starmer is clear, he will wage war on the left and drag the party further right.

The Labour left are already in retreat after failing to challenge Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension as a Labour MP last year. And swathes of left wing activists have left the party in protest.

Now some Labour MPs are wondering if Starmer’s war on the left has reached its limit—and whether they should replace him.

So Starmer wants to appear at the Labour conference in September with a grandstanding show of purging the left.

The four groups have responded by declaring they’ll keep fighting inside the Labour Party that’s working to expel them.

The rest of the Labour left haven’t even promised that. Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell responded by pleading for Corbyn to be restored as a Labour MP.

But even when Corbyn was suspended, left wing Labour MPs refused to rebel to challenge Starmer.

They put the “unity” of the Labour Party ahead of defending themselves and their supporters.


Starmer insults unemployed

BBC News featured Starmer’s meeting with a focus group in Blackpool last week, where he sympathised with right wing views.

Starmer claims he has a “jobs guarantee” for people under 25. But one woman in the focus group—who said she “can’t remember” if she ever voted Labour—responded, “Don’t waste your money.”

“If they want to work, they are already working,” she said. “But they’re just sitting on their backsides, they don’t want to. Because the government are still paying them to sit on their bums.”

Starmer began his reply by agreeing. “You’re always going to get some people who maybe don’t want a job,” he said.


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