Keir Starmer: an invitation to New Labour to justify themselves

Yesterday, I received a gushing email from Sarah Hayward and Keir Starmer, respectively leader of Camden Council and MP for the borough. They sought to elicit my support for Owen Smith and came up with the usual “more in sorrow than in anger” waffle against Corbyn. So I thought I’d ask them a few questions:

Dear Ms Hayward and Mr Starmer,

I agree with your stance against Tory rule. However, I consider your hostility to Mr Corbyn self-serving, dismissive of the wishes of your constituency and the CLP (whose recent vote went 274/196 in favour of Corbyn) and ill-founded. Thus far, no one has been able to articulate any convincing reason for why Mr Corbyn is allegedly “unelectable”, as you and your cohorts keep repeating, and to say that you “simply do not believe“ that Corbyn has the requisite qualities is bunk. The fact of the matter is that it makes you look like advocates of New Labour’s failed “Third Way“ which neither I for certain nor most Labour Party members, apparently, want.

The underhand tactics employed by the NEC highlight the entire point. They waited until Mr Corbyn had left the meeting in question, then raised this entirely new point (notably omitted from the AOB items) and voted on it without the Labour leader present. Then when they forced the issue to go to Court, they spent party members’ contributions on an appeal to get those very members’ wishes stifled. If you cannot see how that looks to members of the Party, such as myself, and how it makes those against Corbyn look, then you suffer such lack of judgement that you ought not to be representing the members—which, de facto, you are not in any event.

I invite you kindly to answer these questions plainly and very specifically:

  1. Why do you say Mr Corbyn renders Labour unelectable?
  2. Why do you say that Mr Corbyn is incapable of “forming an effective opposition and winning a general election”? To argue that he cannot unite a plainly hostile PLP which is itself flouting the rules and failing to represent the wishes of the wider party will not stand. To do so is effectively to seek to blackmail that wider party membership, which is precisely what those seeking to undermine Mr Corbyn’s leadership (such as yourselves) appear to be doing.
  3. It is unclear whether you are contending that Mr Corbyn failed to fight the Remain campaign with sufficient vim, though the criticism seems implicit in your comment about the “very clear determination to fight for the UK in Europe“. If that is your position, then kindly justify your criticism in light of the fact that, according to monitoring conducted by the Loughborough University Centre for Research in Communication and Culture, Mr Corbyn made 123 media appearances during the campaign, as against 19 by Alan Johnson (the nominal leader of Labour’s “In” campaign) and 15 by Angela Eagle. What more do you say he could or should have done, not least given the well-researched media bias against Mr Corbyn personally, the Labour party more generally and the Remain campaign as a whole?

You talk of the great successes of Labour under the Blair/Brown leadership, but you singularly fail to point to the disastrous policies that they pursued with such vigour—leaving apart the Iraq debacle, the fact of the matter is that Mr Blair transformed Labour into a slightly milder version of the Tories. That people are sick of this is evident from the popularity of Mr Corbyn and his return to the Socialist roots of the Labour party.

Frankly, I consider your conduct shoddy, shabby and unbecoming to the role of MP. I realise you are fighting for your jobs and your political lives, but that is not what you are supposed to be doing. You are supposed to be representing and fighting for your members and for the people of Camden, and they plainly support Mr Corbyn over Mr Smith. If, as is plain, you cannot and will not represent your members then you ought to resign forthwith.

As I have written to you before on this matter, Mr Starmer, without the courtesy of a response, I imagine I will get no response to this email either. If so, then it simply serves to reinforce my point.

Yours sincerely

Jolyon Patten

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