Keir Starmer’s ruthless 'betrayal' of Jeremy Corbyn and the hard-left is to his credit – Euan McColm

More fool the Corbynistas for thinking the Labour leader actually cared about them

When it comes to the Labour party, a decent rule of thumb to follow is that if members start whinging about it abandoning Its (or, more accurately, their) principles, it must be doing something right. Of all the major parties, Labour struggles most to deal with the enervating effect of rigid ideologues. Too many of the party’s members care more about their moral code than about gaining power and effecting change.

Ask a Tory or an SNP member what they want from their leaders and they’ll tell you they want them to win. Ask a Labour member the same question and brace yourself for a barrage of self-indulgent piety. Tony and Blair remain two of the dirtiest words imaginable to a sizeable chunk of the Labour membership. The fact that Blair won a hat-trick of general elections doesn’t impress them. Some will even tell you that Blair’s weren’t “real” Labour wins.

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So, it was hardly surprising when Sir Keir Starmer’s reshuffle of Labour’s shadow cabinet was met with outrage by people who – ostensibly – want the party to defeat Rishi Sunak’s Tories at the next general election. The usual suspects popped up across both social and mainstream media to denounce Starmer’s decision to bring back into the fold such heretics as Hilary Benn and Liz Kendall. This, said one of the unreconstructed left’s favourite newspaper columnists, meant a Starmer government could only lead to the bitterest disappointment.

Many Labour members continue to look back nostalgically to the madness of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. They’ll tell you that the rise of anti-semitism in party ranks under Corbyn didn’t actually happen, that the whole thing was cooked up by opponents to smear a decent man. They’ll ignore all the evidence that Corbyn was unfit both morally and intellectually for leadership and tell you he was brought down by dark forces with his own party. The truth is that by the time of the 2019 general election, a huge number of voters had realised that Corbyn was as unpleasant as he was stupid and resolved never to vote Labour while he was in charge.

From Labour’s left come accusations that Starmer betrayed the promises he made during the leadership election that followed Corbyn’s inevitable resignation. They wail that Starmer isn’t as left-wing as they thought. They condemn his lack of ideological purity.

Such attacks Starmer should wear as a badge of pride. Perhaps he should think of putting them on leaflets. After all, the more proof the Labour leader can provide that he rejects Corbynism, the more attractive he will be to the middle-of-the-road, small-c conservative voters he needs to bring along with him if he’s to be the next Prime Minister (assuming the Tories don’t replace Rishi Sunak before the general election).

Starmer’s ruthless “betrayal” of the Corbynite left is to his credit. If he let them think he cared about them during the leadership contest, then more fool them for believing him. For every loud, hard-left critic of Sir Keir Starmer's reshuffle, there will be dozens of ordinary people who think he’s making the Labour party electable again.



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